A British-led archaeological dig has uncovered new human bones at the sitein Belgium.
Historians estimate that more than 20,000 soldiers were killed at Waterloo, 12 miles south of Brussels, on June 18, 1815, when Anglo-Dutch Allied troops, mainly under the command of the Duke of Wellington, defeated French battalions led by Napoleon Bonaparte. was defeated.
It was one of the worst armed confrontations in history and crushed Napoleon’s dreams of a great empire. Thousands of soldiers have also been injured.
The new bones were discovered last week around the Mont St Jean farm, where Wellington established the main affiliated field hospital at the time.
“We have what looks like a complete human skeleton and next to that, it’s another severed leg,” said Tony Pollard, a professor at the University of Glasgow and one of the mission’s directors.
“We don’t know whether the man was killed in the war and the body was brought here or whether he was a patient who died in the hospital,” he said.
“On the Napoleonic battlefields, very old deposits like this are incredibly rare. We’ve been working here since 2015 and this is the first time we’ve encountered a great crater,” said the British archaeologist. “Only one complete skeleton has been excavated from the battlefield, and this was when they were building the museum.”
Many bones of a horse were also found in the excavation. According to archaeologists, it has been estimated that several thousand horses were killed during the battle, “as the splendid glory of the cavalry had ended in death for all.”
The excavation project, involving archaeologists, students, military personnel and veterans, was started in 2015 to mark the bicentenary of the war.
In 2019, they discovered the remains of three amputated legs at the site. The excavation was then interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Belgian archaeologist Eva Callignon said the latest bones discovered were probably collected “in a hurry” in a ditch near the field hospital because the number of victims was so high.
BBC News said the team would continue digging until Friday and expected to do more before that.
“I’ve been a battlefield archaeologist for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Pollard said. “We won’t get any closer to the harsh reality of Waterloo than this.”