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Cultural Patterns of Trauma among 19th-Century-Born Males in Cadaver Collections

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Abstract

ABSTRACT  Comprehending violence among bioarchaeological and historical groups is a topic of recent interest among biological anthropologists. This research examines trauma among African American and Euro-American males of low socioeconomic status born between 1825 and 1877. A total of 651 male skeletons from the Cobb, Terry, and Hamann-Todd anatomical collections were macroscopically evaluated for skeletal trauma, based on the presence of fractures and weapon-related wounds, and statistically analyzed according to ancestry, birth (Antebellum, Civil War, Reconstruction), combined ancestry–birth, and collection cohorts. Results indicated that African Americans and Euro-Americans expressed ethnic differences in regard to interpersonal violence. To interpret these disparities, documentary data were used to reconstruct the socioeconomic and cultural environment of these individuals. This research emphasizes the importance of evaluating skeletal data within the context of class, culture, and environment so that behavioral patterns observed in the skeleton can be better understood.

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