Nasty Stuff In Historical Archaeology

Author(s): Lilian Bodley; Ray von Wandruszka

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Meaning in Material Culture" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

As it is the purpose of historical archaeology to unearth the unknown, there can be unpleasant surprises. Books have been written on the lurking dangers of artifacts, especially in regard to biological contagion. Chemical toxicity may also rear its ugly head, especially in laboratories like ours, where we focus on the chemical identification of historical materials. A common theme involves cosmetics and patent medicines from the 19thand early 20thcentury, when the dangers of some compounds were not fully appreciated and few regulations were in place to limit their use. Chinese labor camps in the American West also feature in this context, as traditional Chinese medicines often include materials that should be handled with caution. In addition, artifacts from hospital and brothel sites across the country sometimes contain "interesting" materials. Analysts and collection managers who deal with historical samples are therefore well advised to approach them with circumspection!

Cite this Record

Nasty Stuff In Historical Archaeology. Lilian Bodley, Ray von Wandruszka. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449050)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


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): 106