Human remains from the Battle of Waterloo unearthed by archaeologists

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Human remains from the Battle of Waterloo unearthed by archaeologists

Wikipedia The battle that the French Emperor thought would be a quick and easy victory marked the end of the Napoleonic era.

One hundred days after his exile on the island of Elba, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Paris in March 1815, taking over the reins of power from the hands of the restored monarchy. On June 18 of the same year, the French emperor faced an Anglo-Prussian coalition at Waterloo, in Belgium, but his army had to bow before the troops of the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Blücher. June 18, 1815, a day which, despite the defeat, is still considered one of the finest feats of arms of the French army, thus marking the end of the Napoleonic epic.

According to historians, more than 20,000 soldiers were killed in Waterloo, 20 km south of Brussels, on this single day, and several tens of thousands of men were injured. On the site where this famous battle took place, new skeletons have been unearthed during a mission led by British researchers, reports Geo magazine. A discovery described as “incredibly rare” more than two centuries after the fact. The discovery of new bones was made around the farm of Mont Saint-Jean, where the Englishman Wellington had established at the time the main field hospital of the Allies.

“We found what looks like a complete human skeleton. And, next to that, another amputated leg. We don't know if the body was brought here by the neighborhood or if it was an injured person who died in hospital,” said Tony Pollard, a professor at the University of Glasgow, one of the directors of the mission.

“On the Napoleonic battlefields, this kind of very old trace is incredibly rare. This is the first time that we have faced a large pit, ”added the archaeologist.

This excavation project, which associates the administration of the Walloon region with the charity Waterloo Uncovered – bringing together archaeologists, archeology students, soldiers and veterans – was launched in 2015 on the occasion of the bicentenary of the battle.

In 2019 already, the remains of three amputated legs had been discovered on the site . The search campaign was then interrupted due to the Covid-19 crisis. It is supposed to be repeated every year in Waterloo for two weeks, said the Belga press agency.

Eva Collignon, a Belgian archaeologist associated with the mission, explained that the bones discovered had probably been gathered ” in a rush” in a ditch near the field hospital, so high was the number of victims.