What Happened to the Waterloo Dead?

Battle of WaterlooGLASGOW, SCOTLAND—According to a statement released by Taylor & Francis, Tony Pollard of the University of Glasgow Center for Battlefield Archaeology will be assisted by veterans in a new geophysical survey in Belgium, at the site of the Battle of Waterloo. The researchers will look for traces of mass graves, beginning with an analysis of early visitor accounts of the battlefield. Although tens of thousands died in the battle, which was fought on June 18, 1815, by a French army commanded by Napoleon, an army made up of soldiers from Britain and its allies, and a Prussian army, very few human remains have been recovered in the area. But Pollard said that at least three newspaper articles from the 1820s referenced the importation of human bones from European battlefields to the British Isles for use as fertilizer. Guidebooks, travelogs, and local people could have revealed the locations of such mass graves to an agent of a purveyor of bones, he explained. On the basis of these accounts and the known importance of bone meal in the practice of agriculture, Pollard said, the removal of bodies from mass graves at Waterloo to obtain bones seams feasible. The new research could offer a picture of what happened to the dead, he concluded. Read the original scholarly article about this research in the Journal of Conflict Archaeology. For more on the Battle of Waterloo, go to “A Soldier’s Story.”

Source: archaeology.org

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