Health and Mortuary Analysis of the Transbay skeleton

Author(s): Christina Alonso

Year: 2015


During the 2014 geothermal trenching for the Transbay Transit Center Project, a single burial was uncovered at approximately 1.8 meters below existing sea level, encased in estuarian clay. This anaerobic clay preserved the bone and associated artifacts almost perfectly. Radiocarbon dating placed this burial at ~7590 years BP, making it one of the oldest burials within the region. The young adult male was wrapped in a woven fibrous mat with numerous wood artifacts surrounding the legs and torso.

Patterns of mortuary practices, general health, and wellness during this temporal period are not well known due to the lack of available data. Very few burials dating to this time have been found, even fewer have been found with such a high level of preservation. This skeleton allows a unique perspective into life on the San Francisco Bay at a time before the large scale shell mounds were created. CA-CCO-637, CA-CCO-696, CA-SCL-065, CA-CCO-548, and CA-MRN-17 were all dated to a similar chronological time predating many sites within the greater San Francisco Bay area. The burials from these sites will be compared in order to try and glean information or distinguish patterns regarding styles of mortuary treatment, and overall health and wellness.

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Cite this Record

Health and Mortuary Analysis of the Transbay skeleton. Christina Alonso. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396959)


Spatial Coverage

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