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Zooarchaeology and Historical Archaeology of Historic Shasta County Hospital 1855-1900: A Case Study

By Rhea Maricar Sanchez

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The use of faunal analysis from historic archaeological sites for determining  status and economics has successfully contributed to a growing body of anthropological  literature concerning socioeconomic factors in the 19th century. This study joins other  historic studies in the analysis of faunal remains for indicators of socioeconomic status.  Contemporary hospitals are notorious for serving dreadful food. Given that this was one  of the very first public health care institutions in the United States, I hypothesized that  inexpensive, low-ranking beef cuts would dominate the assemblage, if beef was present  at all. I expected that if there was any change over time, it would be in decreasing of  meat quantities represented in each level simultaneously with an increase in lowerranked  cuts.  xiv  Shasta Community College, overseen by Dr. Eric Ritter, conducted excavations  in the spring semesters of 2005 and 2006, respectively, of historic Shasta County  Hospital site CA-SHA-1234H, which was located in old Shasta. This study focuses on  the beef remains from Shasta County Hospital and on historic documentation of beef  expenditures from the Board of Supervisors office in Redding to interpret social status  and economic conditions for the years of 1855, when the hospital was founded and  opened, to 1900, when the hospital closed and relocated to Redding.  The results contradicted the original hypothesis. Rather than serving the  lowest quality beef portions, the meats most closely resemble those which are served to  paying patrons at saloons. Additionally, the amount of money spent on beef increased  over time despite the economic demise of the city of Shasta. It is concluded that Shasta  County Hospital served beef exceeding expectations and that the beef expenditures do  not parallel the city’s economic decline because Shasta County prospered as a result of  the cumulative health of its constituent cities.


Katie Carroll

Date 2010
Pages 163
Publisher California State University Chico
Department Anthropology
Degree Master of Arts
Language English
University California State University Chico
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Anthropology
  4. Archaeology
  5. California
  6. Human-animal bond
  7. socioeconomics
  8. Zooarchaeology