Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The Smith’s Knoll collection is composed of the disarticulated, fragmentary, and commingled remains of battle dead from the War of 1812. Historical and archaeological context of this site can be well established, making it particularly valuable in helping to unveil the conditions experienced by individuals in the past. In this thesis, the Smith’s Knoll collection was analyzed for evidence of postcranial perimortem traumatic skeletal lesions. Further context for these injuries was provided through comparison with contemporaneous skeletal and surgical collections, historical documentary sources, and other bioarchaeological studies on violence and warfare in the past.
Injuries associated with fractures, sharp force, and musket trauma were observed in the postcranial elements of the collection. Although the overall prevalence of lesions is low, the majority of observed lesions can be attributed to sharp force trauma. Sharp force injuries are present in fourteen of the ribs as well as one fibula, one femur, one carpal, one vertebra, and one ulna. Musket injuries are present in three innominates and one scapula, and perimortem fractures are present in one rib and one scapula. The sharp force injuries can be further differentiated into those most likely caused by the bayonet, found in the torso, and those most likely caused by the sword, found in the extremities. Musket trauma is present in the form of impact from both musket balls and buckshot. Importantly, this is the first study to identify buckshot lesions on archaeological skeletal material.
The results of the analysis of Smith’s Knoll demonstrate the value of examining postcranial lesions in relation to violence in the past, which has frequently been overlooked in bioarchaeology. As well, this collection illustrates that fragmented, disarticulated, and commingled collections, despite their limitations, have much to contribute to knowledge of interpersonal violent conflicts, both in prehistory and in the more recent past.
Lockau, Laura, "Bioarchaeological Analysis of Trauma in a Skeletal Sample from Smith's Knoll Historic Cemetery" (2012). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7333.
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