Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 379, Issue 2, pp 218–220 | Cite as

Elemental contents in Napoleon’s hair cut before and after his death: did Napoleon die of arsenic poisoning?

  • Xilei Lin
  • D. Alber
  • R. Henkelmann
Special Issue Paper


Whether or not Napoleon died of arsenic poisoning is an open question on which debate has been active since 1960. This work examined several of his hairs, cut at different times and in different places: two pieces cut the day after his death on the island of St. Helena (1821) and two pieces cut seven years earlier (1814) during his first exile on the island of Elba. INAA results show that all of the samples of Napoleon’s hair have an elevated arsenic concentration. These results disfavor the arsenic poisoning theory. Aside from arsenic, 18 other elements are reported, providing additional information for examining the arsenic poisoning theory.


Napoleon  Hair Arsenic poisoning INAA k0-INAA 



The authors deeply thank Dr. N. Byrryman for her kind help in the preparation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Radiochemie der Technischen Universität MünchenGarchingGermany
  2. 2.Hahn-Meitner-InstitutBerlinGermany

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