DNA helps reveal face of Russian soldier killed in 1799 battle

Huis van Hilde reconstructed the face of a Russian soldier killed in a battle at Castricum in 1799
Huis van Hilde reconstructed the face of a Russian soldier killed in a battle at Castricum in 1799Photo: Huis van Hilde

Museum Huis van Hulde reconstructed the face of a Russian soldier who was killed in a battle in Castricum in 1799. The soldier's skeleton was discovered in the dunes last year. His origin was determined with a DNA investigation, and his face was reconstructed using forensic techniques, according to the museum. The reconstructed soldier will form part of the museum's Vijand in het Zand exhibition from Friday.

The exhibition focuses on the British-Russian invasion in 1799. Britain, Russia and Austria formed a coalition against France, which had annexed the Batavian Republic. This republic was a French vassal state that covered a large part of the current Netherlands. In October 1799 there was a large battle at Castricum. This Russian soldier was one of over 5 thousand soldiers killed in that battle. His skeleton was discovered during excavations near Huis van Hilde last year. 

The reconstruction of the soldier's face was commissioned by the province of Noord-Holland. His face was reconstructed using forensic techniques. According to the museum, the Russian looks tired. That was a deliberate choice. "It is known that the Russians had a poor supply and were therefore greatly weakened." 

The Russian soldier will be the center piece of the Vijand in het Zand exhibition, which is running in the museum from October 5th to March 31st. 

The museum is also holding a competition for naming the Russian soldier. Anyone with an idea for a name can submit their entry to Huis van Hilde until October 28th. The museum will pick the most original name, and the winner will get a VIP package at Huis van Hilde for 4 people as well as a year long subscription to Archeology Magazine. 

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