Posts Tagged With: Military Archaeology

Nazi Bunkers discovered off Danish Coast

One of my all time favourite Nazi archaeological discoveries was the discovery of three Nazi bunkers on a Danish coast back in 2008. Although its old news  in the world of journalism i wanted to write about them. Their discovery came when i was in my second year of digging a second war bunker  in Melbourne.  They were remarkably preserved being found in literally the same condition as they were on the day the last Nazi soldiers had left them. The tobacco in one soldier’s pipe and a half finished bottle of schnapps was testimony to this. Like so many amazing finds around the world they were not found by archaeologists but rather by two nine-year-old boys on vacation with their parents, who then informed the authorities.

This bunker was entombed under the sand dunes until a violent storm swept away the sands three months ago

Interior view of section of bunker taken from the Daily Mail

The bunkers had not been touched since the war

Exposed bunker taken from Daily Mail

When the archaeologists arrived they were in awe of what they found. “What’s so fantastic is that we found them completely furnished with beds, ‘chairs, tables, communication systems and the personal effects of the soldiers who lived inside,”said Jens Andersen, the curator of the Hanstholm museum. Bent Anthonisen, a Danish expert on European bunkers said, ”The discovery of the fully-furnished bunkers was  unique in Europe.”  These bunkers were just three of 7,000 built by the Nazi’s  as part of Hitler’s  ‘Atlantic  Wall‘ from Norway to the south of France.

Expert Tommy Cassoe: 'It was as if the Nazis had just left yesterday'

Archaeologist Tommy Cassoe posing in front of entrance taken from Daily Mail

The vast majority of such bunkers have been  looted and destroyed, but these three owe their survival to sand dunes that completely  entombed them. This happened back in 1945 when the Germans surrendered.Giant waves caused by huge storms swept away the sand revealing them. Ive often thought that nature is such a paradox, in its path of destruction it can uncover treasure without destroying it.

The items in these bunkers like boots, mustard bottles, inkpots and stamps featuring Hitler were quite fragile so its  amazing that they were so well preserved. They were of course taken to a laboratory at Oelgod museum to be examined and treated.

stamps

Stamps showing Hitler found in bunker taken from Daily Mail

The center’s  German curator, Gert Nebrich, deemed the finds  very  interesting due to their rarity. He said “We don’t expect contemporary objects like these to be so well preserved.  Maybe it’s because they were kept for 60 years in the cold and dark like in a  big vacuum.”
The Nazis would have shut the doors of the bunker sometime in 1945 and then would have gone to the nearest town to surrender. This makes these bunkers  a moment frozen in time !.
Extra info

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1041240/Sea-unearths-secret-Nazi-bunkers-lay-hidden-50-years.html

 
 
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Tales from the trenches at Gallipoli

 

 

Ancient Roman roof tiles, pots, coins, as well as Anzac soldiers’ buttons, food tin remains and bullets are just some of the items archaeologists have recently uncovered at Gallipoli.


Roman roof tile taken from wikipedia

Roman pot taken from ancient touch

Roman coin taken from

Anzac button taken from medals gone missing

Food tin taken from

WW1 bullets taken from

For the first time archaeology is being used to study Gallipoli. A team of Australian, New Zealand and Turkish researchers are involved. Work began in 2010 and ends in 2015.

            

The team has recorded several kilometres of trenches and found nearly a thousand items using GPS units and ground -surveying technology, University of Melbourne archaeologist Antonio Sagona has said.

Professor Sagona said, just in 2012 alone 480 items had been found, consisting of items ranging from Roman pots to Anzac food tins and shrapnel. Trenches, dugouts and tunnels have also been found.

      

According to him, archaeology reveals a new side to Gallipoli which is important to our history as a nation. It gives us physical remains that we can see and touch.

Professor Sagona said some of the trenches at Lone Pine rest on top of an ancient Roman settlement.  Past Melbourne University Classics student Sarah Midford said the Anzacs had found Roman items consisting of coins and pottery when digging the trenches.

The Anzac letters reveal that the troops complained about the monotony of eating tinned food. Sagona said all the food- tin remains in the trenches are from the Anzac side, not the Turkish side. The Turks cooked their food and as a result there are no processed foods on their side.

 

“Archaeology can provide information on day-to-day activities in the trenches, dugouts and tunnels, which can be compared to the documentary evidence.

 “We can’t recreate horror like the sound of gunfire and the shouting, but the remnant material culture is vivid all the same.”

 Sarah Midford said, “Gallipoli isn’t just 1915, there are so many layers.” It’s an ancient site that has witnessed conflict for thousands of years.

Midford linked the Anzac campaign with the Trojan War. Troy is close to Gallipoli. She said, the Anzacs had been defeated amid the same landscape as the Trojans.

     

She said,” Gallipoli is a site of cultural significance for the whole Western world because of the Trojan War.”

Alexander, Julius and Augustus Caesar visited Troy to pay their respects.  Now Australians in their thousands come to Gallipoli to do the same.

            

Both Midford and Sagona hope to see the archaeology of Gallipoli become part of the yearly commemorations and be part of Australian history education.

Both think it will add another layer to our history. They also hope future tourists will walk the battlefield and see the archaeology, not just the war history.

Extra Info;

Professor Antonio Sagona : Classics and Archaeology at Melbourne University,  a.sagona@unimelb.edu.au.   

Sarah Midford, Research Associate at Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Latrobe University: s.midford@latrobe.edu.

For more information on the archaeology of Gallipoli visit the following sites;

http://www.archaeology.org/issues/92-1305/letter-from/765-anzac-gallipoli-wwi-battlefield-allied-german-ottoman  article on Gallipoli fieldwork in Archaeology magazine

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/largest-archaeological-survey-of-gallipoli-uncovers-dozens-of-artefacts/story-e6freon6-1226036825585 news article on Gallipoli archaeology

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