Archaeology of Mephisto

Join us for a free talk and Q&A on our ongoing research into the history of “Mephisto”, one of our most-loved collection items, with Queensland Museum’s Queensland Stories Senior curator Dr Michael Westaway.

The A7V tank Mephisto is the sole surviving German tank from World War One. We have developed an innovative partnership with Queensland Police ballistics and bomb blast units and the Defence Science Technology Organisation to reconstruct its history, particularly with regard to the physical battle damage present on both the internal and external surfaces of the tank.

The research holds the potential to complement historical documents on how the allies tried to stop the tanks entering Villers-Bretonneux. Indeed the information also holds the potential to correct some of the historic accounts, already it would seem the physical evidence is counters the claim that Mephisto was partially destroyed by a demolition charge placed within the tank.

A7Vs played the central role in the 24 April 1918 capture of Villers-Bretonneux and this study is providing new insights into the history of this very important engagement. Villers-Bretonneux was successfully recaptured on the following day by a bold Australian night assault, the tank ultimately being captured as a war trophy and brought to Queensland Museum in 1918 to commemorate the sacrifice of ANZACs on the Western Front.

This event is part of our program of talks and presentations for National Archaeology Week (19 – 25 May 2013).