Oxen at Oxon Hill Manor: Identifying Draught Cattle from the Archaeological Record of Colonial Maryland

Author(s): Jenna Carlson

Year: 2015


The methodologies for identifying and analyzing draught cattle from the archaeological record have been developed and refined over the past twenty years. However, little research has been done which applies these methodologies to faunal assemblages from the New World. This research identifies possible draught cattle from an eighteenth-century well and a possible smokehouse at Oxon Hill Manor in Prince George’s County, Maryland, using pathological and osteometric analyses. Analysis of pathologies on metapodials and phalanges identifies which specimens most likely came from individuals used for draught labor. Osteometrics delineate the sex ratios of cattle in the archaeological record, thus providing a means for assessing the husbandry strategies in regions where draught cattle were used. As Oxon Hill Manor was home to an elite upper class planting family, the site provides a unique opportunity to explore the changing roles of draught oxen with the shift from tobacco to diversified agriculture in the last half of the eighteenth century. Additionally, the documentary record from Oxon Hill Manor provides a means to test the reliability of these methods for identifying draught cattle from British North American faunal assemblages.

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Cite this Record

Oxen at Oxon Hill Manor: Identifying Draught Cattle from the Archaeological Record of Colonial Maryland. Jenna Carlson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397608)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -84.067; min lat: 36.031 ; max long: -72.026; max lat: 43.325 ;