Region of Origin Predictions of Human Remains from a Late 19th Century Medical Waste Pit: Oxygen and Strontium Isotope Evidence from the Point San Jose Hospital, San Francisco
In 2010, human remains were discovered in a medical waste pit behind the Civil War-era hospital at Point San Jose, San Francisco by National Park Service archaeologists. The commingled assemblage consisted of thousands of human bones, including cranial and dental remains. Extensive cut marks on these remains indicated they were used for anatomical dissection. Assessment of biological characteristics suggested that some of the individuals targeted for dissection are of non-European ancestry.
In this study, we use stable oxygen and strontium isotopes to predict region of origin of the craniodental remains of eight individuals from the medical waste pit. A molar tooth and skull fragment were sampled from each individual and were prepared for isotope analysis. Stable isotope data from bone suggest that these individuals may have had a common origin (possibly the San Francisco Bay Area). In contrast, data from teeth are more heterogeneous and suggest a variety of different places of childhood origin. Using isoscape prediction maps, we present possible regions of origin for these individuals, including in and outside the continental United States. We hypothesize that the remains in the medical waste pit at Point San Jose represent selective targeting of the dead from minority communities.
Cite this Record
Region of Origin Predictions of Human Remains from a Late 19th Century Medical Waste Pit: Oxygen and Strontium Isotope Evidence from the Point San Jose Hospital, San Francisco. Eric Bartelink, Sarah Hall. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444397)
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min long: -124.189; min lat: 31.803 ; max long: -105.469; max lat: 43.58 ;
Abstract Id(s): 21079