Original paper

Im Osten etwas Neues: Anthropological analysis of remains of German soldiers from 1915-1918

Jankauskas, Rimantas; Miliauskienė, Žydrūnė; Stankevičiūtė, Daina; Kuncevičius, Albinas

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 68 No. 4 (2011), p. 393 - 414

published: Sep 1, 2011

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2011/0150

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP140006804005, Price: 29.00 €

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In the summer of 2005, exhumation and identification of the remains of German soldiers was performed in Panevėžys (Northern Lithuania). Historical data indicate that in autumn of 1915 the building of a local gymnasium was transformed into a military hospital, and casualties were buried in its garden. The hospital functioned until the Ger man withdrawal in the winter 1918. Archaeological finds include ID tags, personal items, residues of uniforms and medical devices. Routine anthropological analysis was performed on the site, as the remains had to be ready for scheduled reburial the same summer. In total, the remains of 837 soldiers have been discovered. Most of the remains belong to males up to 30 years of age. There were, however, remains of five females. The average stature (acc. Trotter-Gleser) of males (± SD) was 171.4 ± 5.1 cm (range 155.4-188.8 cm). Dental status was characterized by a high incidence of antemortal tooth loss (81.8 % of individuals, 14.9 % teeth) and caries complications. Some healed trauma and other lesions (including some suggestive of tuberculosis) indicate that they were not obstacles for military service. The highest number of pathologies observed was leg trauma (125 cases, among them 49 amputations), followed by head trauma (48 cases, among them 13 cases with surgical treatment, and 8 cases of maxillofacial lesions), trauma of upper extremity (29 cases, including 9 amputations); incidence of other kinds of trauma was much lower (trunk area - 7, pelvic area - 5, possible abdominal traumas, indicated by metal plates with wire, probably used to support drain inserted into abdominal cavity - 36, lesions of vertebral column - 2) - this can be explained by worse field-survival after such lesions and smaller involvement of the skeleton. However, a significant number of skeletons (115) were covered with lime, suggesting death from other (infection?) causes; the presence of chronic disease treatment is suggested by a certain number (32) of osteoperiosteal lesions. The presence of dissected bodies (13 cases) indicate systemic analysis of mortality causes. Numerous other pathologies and traces of medical interventions are also informative. All this indicates the functioning of a large hospital with qualified staff and at least several specialised departments.


bioarchaeology1st world warstaturedental statustraumatologysurgical treatment