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Geochemical Identification of the Extramural Activity of Laundry Washing at Cantonment Burgwin (LA 88145), Taos, New Mexico

Author(s): Judith E. Thomas ; Kaitlyn R. Volanski

Year: 2014

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Summary

During the occupation (1852-1860) of Cantonment Burgwin near Taos, New Mexico, the Army laundresses processed the soldiers’ laundry using lye soap near their quarters. Lye, or potash, contains phosphorus, an element that is relatively immobile when added to the soil, as with discarded wash water. Archaeological excavation of Cantonment Burgwin’s laundresses’ quarters identified the footprint and internal configuration of their four-room building. To locate the laundry washing area, chemical analysis was conducted on soil samples using the Colorimetric method to determine the amount of phosphorus within each sample. The differential phosphorus patterning identified an area near the laundresses’ quarters where the washing process had left a phosphorus signature in the soil. This paper summarizes the research conducted to geochemically identify the chemical signature of the extramural activity of laundry washing.


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Geochemical Identification of the Extramural Activity of Laundry Washing at Cantonment Burgwin (LA 88145), Taos, New Mexico. Judith E. Thomas, Kaitlyn R. Volanski. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436724)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-15,01

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America