Analysis of Human Skeletal Remains, Eastern St Hospital

  • Pollack, David (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


This document presents a plan for analyzing and reporting on the human remains, and associated records and artifacts recovered from the Old Eastern State Hospital Cemetery. After some background information is presented on the project to date, research issues are presented, and laboratory methods are described. Related issues of report preparation, reburial of human remains, and artifact curation are also addressed. The Old Eastern State Hospital Cemetery contains the remains of individuals who were patients at the hospital from ca. 1840 to the early-1860s. Many of these individuals may have died during the cholera epidemics of 1849 and 1850, or an outbreak of dysentery in 1856. In 2005, this cemetery was rediscovered with the documentation of a single grave and a mass grave that contained 10 individuals. Thus from the start of fieldwork we expected to find additional graves once the hospital entrance was closed and the pavement was removed. We just didn't know how many graves we would find. The primary goals of the fieldwork conducted at the Old Eastern State Hospital Cemetery was to document significant historic features (e.g., privies and foundations) and recover all of the human remains at the site. To accomplish this a backhoe was used to expose foundations, privies, and grave shafts. This often involved removal of asphalt and fill. When a grave shaft was encountered its location was noted, it was covered with black plastic, and assigned a number. The backhoe was then moved to another location. A professional archaeologist excavated each burial. The soil covering the human remains was carefully removed with a trowel, skewers, and brushes. Once the human remains had been exposed, they were photographed, a burial form was completed, and the exposed remains were drawn. The burial was then carefully removed, placed in bags, and transported to the Kentucky Archaeological Survey's Laboratory, which is housed at the University of Kentucky. The location of coffin hardware as well as buttons, clasps, pins, jewelry, and hair combs also were mapped, and these artifacts were collected and provenienced with each burial. A total station was used to map the location ofeach grave shaft.
Effective start/end date8/1/116/30/14


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