Like Pulling Teeth: Relationships Between Material Culture And Osteology At The Milwaukee County Poor Farm Cemetery

Author(s): Jessica Skinner

Year: 2018

Summary

Material culture is a mediator between the living and the dead (Hallam and Hockey 2017).  Items used by the living can leave their mark osteologically, can follow an individual into a burial context, or can become part of an individual. Each of these actions leaves archaeological evidence of cultural communication. This paper examines the dialectical relationships between artifacts and osteology through an integrative analysis of the multilayered relationships between osteological data, artifact analysis, and historic documents. Three examples from the Milwaukee County Poor Farm Cemetery demonstrate the materialized relationships between institutions, archaeologists, and the poor and unclaimed of Milwaukee County in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These include: pipe stem grooves and the recovery of pipes, the contemporary categorization of dentures, and dental work (bridges, implants, etc.) as signifiers of institutional relationships (Hodder 2012). Within these relationships, the manifestation of institutional facts juxtaposed with lived experience can be revealed (Renfrew 2004:26).

Cite this Record

Like Pulling Teeth: Relationships Between Material Culture And Osteology At The Milwaukee County Poor Farm Cemetery. Jessica Skinner. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441939)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 704