A Civil War Period Ossuary Pit, Point San Jose Hospital Site, San Francisco

Author(s): Peter Gavette; Leo Barker

Year: 2015


The United States Army reactivated Point San Jose, a military base established by Spanish in 1776, during the Civil War to protect the San Francisco Bay from Confederate threats. In 2010, the Nation Park Service undertook rehabilitation of several historic buildings dating back to the late nineteenth century. This paper examines a significant feature discovered during the refurbishment of the army hospital that was active from 1863 to 1903. Archaeological monitors discovered an ossuary pit containing human remains during removal of contaminated soils around the foundation of the structure. Careful excavation of the pit revealed a profusion of waste material from the hospital that included unarticulated post-cranial and cranial elements from multiple individuals. Diagnostic bottles recovered from the feature indicate that the deposit dates to between 1860 and 1880. Historic research on the Point San Jose hospital and staff provide amazing insight into the nature of this feature and its formation.

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Cite this Record

A Civil War Period Ossuary Pit, Point San Jose Hospital Site, San Francisco. Peter Gavette, Leo Barker. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396845)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;