Skeletal Remains of the Victims of the Battle of the Three Emperors Found Near Austerlitz

During the reconstruction of the cellars in Staňkova street in Brno, archaeologists of the IAH Brno uncovered a mass grave containing parts of twelve human skeletons. The skeletal remains were examined by a team led by dr. Kateřina Vymazalová from the research group of medical anthropology and clinical anatomy of the Department of Anatomy FM MU.

19 Jan 2022

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During more than a year of research, it was possible to observe that these remains belonged to men between the ages of 20 and 30 with an average body height of 167,7 cm. A detailed palaeopathological analysis revealed, for example, a fragmentary fracture of the humerus on individual skeletons caused probably by a gunshot wound, or surgical intervention – amputation of the lower limb in the thigh area. “Based on the results of this analysis and the context of the finding, we made a hypothesis, that these could be soldiers who fought in the Battle of Austerlitz and who probably died in a temporary field hospital in Brno,” said Vymazalová.

Degenerative changes in the spine and bones of the lower limb also indicate the enormous physical strain that the studied individuals were apparently exposed to as they were equipped with weaponry during long marches and wearing heavy military footwear. Using the radiocarbon method, the skeletons were dated to the 19th century, when the Napoleonic Wars took place in Central Europe. The hypothesis was also confirmed by the analysis of dental tartar, in which traces of sulphur and nitrogen, i.e. components of gunpowder, were found. Genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA revealed three different haplogroups that occur with different frequencies in different parts of Europe.

It is very likely that the remains found belonged to the victims of the Battle of Three Emperors, which took place in nearby Slavkov u Brna on 2nd December 1805.

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