Hannah Rachel

Titel der Masterarbeit:
Examination and comparison of dental pathologies in skeletal remains of Napoleonic soldiers

The skeletal series from Kassel includes at least 126 individuals from a mass grave that was discovered at the University of Kassel in mid-January 2008. Taking all the facts into account, the hypothesis was established that the individuals were soldiers of the Napoleonic army who probably died from a typhus epidemic. A second skeletal series of Napoleonic soldiers comprises 204 individuals that were found during construction work in September 2015 in Frankfurt-Rödelheim. The individuals probably died from a typhus epidemic in 1813 as well.

The age distribution of the Kassel individuals is not even: most individuals are in the early to middle adult age classes. In contrast, the age distribution of the Rödelheim individuals is more even. Furthermore, the series comprises more individuals in the juvenile, mature and senile age classes than the Kassel series. Since almost exclusively young individuals are to be expected in a military context, it is reasonable to assume that the individuals from the Rödelheim skeletal series, in contrast to the Kassel individuals, were recruited at a later date and were no longer the fittest men. It can also be presumed that the Rödelheim individuals were probably not part of Napoleon's Russian Campaign in 1812 due to several very young individuals.

My Master's thesis aims to examine and compare the dental pathologies and other deviations from the regular dental anatomy between the two Napoleonic skeletal series from Kassel and Rödelheim. The primary focus will be on the comparison of the time of emergence, the frequency, and the severity of dental enamel hypoplasia. As it is expected that the Rödelheim individuals show more enamel hypoplasia than the individuals from Kassel. Dental enamel hypoplasia are developmental defects, characterised by transverse lines, pits, and grooves on the surface of the tooth crown. Hypoplastic defects can be generally induced by physiological stress during childhood (e.g. nutritional deficiencies, fever and infectious diseases) and therefore serve as a non-specific stress marker. Overall, dental pathologies reflect diet, hygiene practices, living conditions and general health patterns of the populations in the past. Hence, this thesis provides further insights into the living and health conditions of Napoleonic soldiers.

In addition, the mtDNA of individuals from the Rödelheim skeletal series displaying dental anomalies with a possible genetic cause will be analysed. This analysis, considering the already analysed genetic fingerprints and Y-STRs, can provide information about a possible kinship between the individuals.

Publikationen und Konferenzbeiträge:

  • Tagung der GAPA (Gesellschaft für Archäozoologie und Prähistorische Anthropologie), Weimar, 26.09. bis 30.09.2022:
    Rachel H & Grosskopf B: Erste Ergebnisse der Befundung der Dentalpathologien an Skletten Napoleonischer Soldaten.