Bone from the Latrine

July 3, 2010

We are finding many animal bones in the sink (latrine) from Block 8 being excavated this year.  Two of these bones are from a cow, the radius and ulna.  In the pictures below, you can see one end (the proximal end of the ulna) shows a growth cap having yet to seal and the other ends of both bones show a wonder saw cut marks.  We have many discussions at the site on why the prisoners were depositing so many bones into the latrine.  The garbage was carted out each day from the prison, so it was not due to needing to get rid of the waste.  As we get deeper into the latrine, I expect we will be recovering much more bone.

Click on this image to see the entire bonesHere is the growth cap for the ulnaThe distal ends of these bones have been cut with a saw, part of the butchering process.

The growth cap for the ulna

The distal ends of these bones have been cut during butchering.

Comments (12)

  1. Mary Pat says:

    I wonder if the meat was stolen or smuggled? Were the prisoners given meat regularly?

  2. David Bush says:

    At the time this latrine was used, being late 1862 and early 1863, the prisoners were given regular rations which included fresh beef.

  3. Emma says:

    Could they have possibly been trying to carve a key/lockpick/weapon from the bone?

  4. earl says:

    How did he die in the first place because in a latrine it would be a little weird.

  5. David Bush says:

    The bones shown here are two of many being removed from this probable late 1862 latrine. The bones are mostly cow bones. None are human. We cannot say for certain why some of these bones end up in the latrine while most are carted away. In any case, they do reveal at these times the prisoners did receive fairly good cuts of meat.

  6. rojyar says:

    im rojyar i love archaeology

  7. Ronald says:

    I also suspect they were stolen or hidden to be eaten secretly as an surplus to the daily ration. That is why the bones were disposed in the lavatory: nobody would want to look there for some bones.
    Regards R.

  8. Dinh Van manh says:

    I am Manh, from Vietnam. I sutied Archaeology and now I am working at the National Museum of Vietnamese History. I am so poor so I have searched for Part time jobs but it is very difficult to find out. I wish some one can help me. Please help me if some one has any job for me. I need money for my research and daily living. Now I must live in a flat like a pigsty. Of course, I always try my best. But It will not come no where without everyone’ helps. God blesses me!

  9. anna says:

    i think thats really cool and kind of spooky! 🙂 thats the things i like. dead people and haunted houses. im crazy for those things! :() *OMG*

  10. duckyquackquack says:

    Wow love to do this stuff dig up dead bodies

  11. James L. Murphy says:

    The “growth cap” shown is more correctly termed “epiphysis.”

  12. James L. Murphy says:

    I forgot to add that this represents a shank cut or possibly a brisket cut, neither of which is very high quality beef. This also begs the question of whether the meat was fresh or, more likely, salted.