The 1849 California Gold Rush attracted miners from across the United States and around the world to seek their fortunes. Camp Salvado was established on the flat top of Shawmut Grade, not far from what was once Woods Creek (now part of the Don Pedro Reservoir), by a group of miners from El Salvador (Figure 1). A few months later, another camp was founded about 1.5 miles to the northwest by a group of Cantonese miners after they were forced out of Camp Salvado; it became known as Chinese Camp. These camps were similar in many ways. Each was occupied for about five years, then abandoned; each was occupied by about 500 people, mostly young men; each procured its food from the countryside and from the provisioning town of Jamestown (5-6 miles to the north along a dirt road).
Excavations are underway at Chinese Camp and Camp Salvado, and you have been asked to analyze and compare the faunal assemblages from each site, summarized in the attached Excel table (the table has two tabs, one for Chinese Camp and one for Camp Salvado). First you will need to calculate the Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI) of each species for each of the two assemblages. From those results, calculate the Flesh Weight (FW) of each species for each of the two assemblages. Finally, in 1-2 pages (Times, 12 point, double-spaced), evaluate how different or similar the diets were at the two communities. Your interpretation of the data should take into account:
The importance of meat in the overall diet
The diversity of animals in the assemblage
The ratio of wild to domesticated animals
Why there might be evidence for preferences for particular species
What is the relevance of butchering marks: Were the animals represented in the assemblage eaten by the camps’ inhabitants? Are there patterns in which bones are being processed? If the animals were not being butchered, did they serve some other function at the camp?
Conclude your interpretation with a paragraph about how this kind of faunal analysis, based on MNI and Flesh Weight, can help us understand diet at the mining camps, and what this kind of analysis might be missing or misrepresenting.
*Adapted from Barber (1994: 93-106)
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