In 2001, 3269 unidentified individuals were found in a mass grave on the Northern part of Vilnius, Lithuania. Artifactual context indicates that these individuals were likely soldiers that were a part of Napoleon’s Grand Army. Stable oxygen isotope analysis was performed on bone apatite from 9 femoral bone samples to determine whether or not these individuals were Lithuanian locals and to test ratio variation. If individuals were foreigners, then geographical origins were approximated utilizing percentages of C4 plants from Holder (2013) and δ18O values that were extracted from bone apatite. The carbonate oxygen isotope compositions (δ18Ocarbonate) of bone apatite from the femoral samples (-4.4‰ to -6.2‰) indicate that these individuals were from central and western Europe (-4.0‰ to -6.9‰). It is significant that none of the individuals have values consistent with the area around Lithuania (-10.0‰ to -11.9‰), because it means that they all were non-local. It is also indicative that the Lithuanians were not burying their citizens in the grave and therefore strongly support that these individuals were Napoleonic soldiers. Additionally, although C4 percentages in the diet ranged from 17.8% to 31.7%, which overlaps with eastern European consumption patterns (approximately 15% to 25% of C4 plants) (Reitsema et al., 2010), the slight shift towards a higher C4 percentage is more representative of a central and western European diet. These results are significant because they provide stable isotopic evidence that these individuals were Napoleon’s soldiers whom participated in the Russian campaign of 1812.
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Dupras, Tosha L.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Pelier, Serenela, "Stable Isotope Evidence for the Geographic Origins and Military Movement of Napoleonic Soldiers During the March From Moscow in 1812" (2015). HIM 1990-2015. 1734.