13th November 2014:
The latest issue of New Scientist features article about the pioneering investigation of First World War mass graves at Fromelles, northern France, by an international team of forensic and investigative professionals led by Oxford Archaeology.
The team excavated and scientifically examined the remains of 250 mainly Australian soldiers, along with the items buried with them. With the full support and cooperation of the soldiers' families, this evidence was employed alongside DNA and historical sources in an attempt to identify the soldiers by name for their commemoration on headstones. The report on the investigation was published by Oxford Archaeology earlier this year in a monograph (click here for details).
The article in New Scientist focuses on the role that DNA played in the identification process, but also discusses some of the surprising insights revealed the archaeological and scientific analysis (for example the remarkably high standard of early-20th century dental work), and assesses what implications the landmark project has for other investigations of mass graves.