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Thirty Years War mass grave excavated in Germany

47 skeletons of soldiers killed during the Battle of Lützen in 1632 have been analyzed during excavation of a mass grave in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

According to their results, published in the journal PLOS ONE on May 22, most of the men were already in rough shape when they headed into their final battle. Sixteen had experienced previous head injuries; one man had even suffered four head wounds in previous conflicts before he died. Twenty-one had other healed or healing bone injuries, like fractures in the arms, legs and ribs.

By looking at the unhealed wounds, the researchers could see what the men suffered on the battlefield. Though some men had cut marks and slash wounds on their bones, bladed weapons seemed to play a minor role in the deaths of these soldiers. Instead, more than half of the men had been hit by gunfire. Twenty-one suffered gunshot wounds to the head, and 11 of them had bullets still lodged in their skulls.

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Story: Megan Gannon, Live Science | Photo: J. Lipták, O. Schröder

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