Dog 6: The Life and Death of A Good Boy in Eighteenth-Century Virginia

Author(s): Dessa E. Lightfoot

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Burial, Space, and Memory of Unusual Death" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Colonial Williamsburg archaeologists encountered a series of dog burials during an excavation of the eighteenth-century Public Armoury site in Colonial Williamsburg. Among these already uncommon eighteenth-century burials, one dog in particular stood out: Dog 6, an elderly male with evidence of multiple healed injuries, unusual skeletal modifications, and significant arthritis. Placed with care into a custom-dug North/South aligned pit and buried with a carnivore-gnawed cattle bone and a large piece of coral, Dog 6 has presented a tantalizing glimpse into the life and death of an eighteenth-century working animal and the humans with which it interacted. This paper seeks to reconstruct the life history of Dog 6 through a detailed skeletal analysis, complicate assumptions about human/animal relationships in the eighteenth century, and to place this uncommon burial within the a larger knowledge of animal disposal and burial practices in Virginia in the period. 

Cite this Record

Dog 6: The Life and Death of A Good Boy in Eighteenth-Century Virginia. Dessa E. Lightfoot. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 448958)

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Temporal Keywords
Eighteenth century

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 488