Were the Notorious Romanovs Misidentified?

Back in 1991, the remains of nine individuals were discovered in a shallow grave in central Russia. Forensic experts suggested that their skeletons likely belonged to the last tsar, Nicholas II, the tsarina (his wife), and three of their five kids.

A family portrait of the Romanovs.
Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

Their bodies had disappeared after being shot by the Bolsheviks in 1918. However, a new study begs to differ. In 1994, scientists reported that the odds of the skeletal remains not being those of the Romanovs were no less than 700 to 1. So, who were those nine people in the ditch?

The End of an Era

Back in 1917, Russia hit a revolution, and one month later, emperor Nicholas II resigned from his throne to live a normal life after three generations in power. With the revolution and the failure abroad of World War I, the Romanov dynasty came to an end.

A portrait of emperor Nicholas II and his wife.
Photo by Laski Diffusion/Getty Images

The Romanovs were then held prisoners by the Bolsheviks, who moved them to different places. Then came the fateful night in July 1918, when the entire family was taken out and killed one by one.

From 11 to 9

11 bodies were shot and then loaded into a truck. Historians believe that the bodies were first thrown into Ganina Yama, a mine that the Bolsheviks tried to destroy with grenades. But, it wasn’t destroyed and the bodies were quickly removed.

The forest where the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II and his family were buried after all of them were killed.
Photo by Laski Diffusion/Getty Images

But the truck got stuck in the mud, so they got rid of two bodies in the forest, explaining why only nine bodies were later found.

Let the Healing Begin

In 2007, the two bodies dumped in the forest were found to belong to Alexei and Maria Romanov. Once all the bones were unearthed, a proper healing process began for the family’s descendants.

A photo of the Romanov children.
Photo by Apic/Getty Images

The bodies were finally put to rest in St. Petersburg’s Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, where tsars were traditionally buried. A monastery was raised at Ganina Yama, and in 2013, the Church on the Blood sanctified the spot where the Ipatiev House once stood.