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Historical Archaeology at the Microscopic Scale: The Application of Geochemical and Macrobotanical Analyses
AdvisorCowie, Sarah E.
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Developed in the 1960s, geochemical and macrobotanical analyses have been available to researchers in both historical and prehistoric archaeology, although the application has generally been limited. These methods are particularly underutilized in historical archaeology, where researchers have applied them irregularly and with poor soil sampling and collection strategies. With three case studies from the state of Nevada, I will demonstrate that geochemical and macrobotanical analyses are worthwhile methods and applicable to a variety of historical sites. These case studies include the Saint Mary’s Hospital in Virginia City, the Stewart Indian School in Carson City, and the Island Mountain Chinese mining community located north of Elko. The results suggest that these analyses can be applied to a range of historical archaeological sites and features and can help answer questions related to foodways, the market availability of goods, healthcare studies, and site contamination due to the presence of anthropogenic heavy metals.