March 26, 2012

Bodies, bodies everywhere

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology, Media, Pop culture — acagle @ 7:19 pm

Mass grave from Thirty Years’ War opened

“We estimate that there are at least 75 dead, who were buried very close together in several layers,” archaeologist Susanne Friederich said on Friday.

The Battle of L├╝tzen, which took place in 1632, pitted Swedish soldiers against those under the command of German Roman Catholic general Albrecht von Wallenstein.

It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Thirty Years’ War, with an estimated 6,500 to 10,000 casualties. The Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus was also mortally wounded during the battle.

Also related, National Geographic has a new series called Warrior Graveyard that’s actually worth checking out. They take a different set of human remains every week and examine them forensically showing what probably happened to each of a number of individuals. So far they’ve all been from incidents I knew nothing about. They go a little crazy with the reconstructions, but they’re not as bad as a lot of them, and they’re usually done to show how particular wounds on the skeletons were probably administered. Good reminder of how brutal conflict really used to be (and still is, but past violence is often sanitized).

1 Comment

  1. John Keegan, in “Face of Battle”, discussing a climactic fight in the Hundred Years War, observed that a good many casualties were from “handstrokes”. IOW, you have a weapon in your hand and the other end of it is in your enemy. It’s been said that you could feel the other guy’s heart tearing itself apart on your knife. Wouldn’t know. Keegan thought that was a big deal for us to think about when we think about ancient war and soldiers therein.

    Comment by Richard Aubrey — March 27, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

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