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28.03.2018 | Lessons from the Museum | Ausgabe 3/2018

Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology 3/2018

Surprising origin of two carved bones donated to the Buchenwald Memorial Museum

Zeitschrift:
Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology > Ausgabe 3/2018
Autor:
René Gapert

Abstract

Unidentified bones were donated to the Buchenwald Memorial Museum in Weimar, Germany. The donor thought the bones may have belonged to internees of the concentration camp and had been decoratively carved by camp personnel. Non-destructive forensic anthropological examination was carried out on the bones to identify their possible origin. Comparative human and non-human bones samples were used to determine the provenance of the bones and the anatomical region they may have come from. Literature and internet searches were conducted to trace the origin of the carved motifs on the bones. The bones were determined to belong to the lower limb region of bovids. The carvings were found to correspond with those of existing bone examples found in some museums in the UK. They were traced to German prisoners of war dating to the First World War. An in-depth examination of the donated bones revealed their non-human provenance. It further showed that no link existed between the bones, internees of the concentration camp, and the time of the camp’s existence. It was discovered that they belonged to the period 1914–1918 and form an important part of German prisoner of war history in the UK.

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