Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Dawnie W. Steadman

Committee Members

David Anderson, Amy Z. Mundorff


Gold Mine (16RI13) is a Troyville ossuary mound site (circa CE 825) in northeastern Louisiana. Approximately 10-20% of the primary mound (Mound A) was excavated over the course of three field seasons (1978-1980), yielding a host of human skeletal remains. Extensively commingled secondary burials make up the majority of interments. The number of individuals represented within the collection (N) has been estimated at 150+ (McGimsey 2004:214), but attempts to quantitatively determine N have produced varied results. Formal analysis of the skeletal collection is complicated by the loss of provenience for many remains as well as additional post-excavation fragmentation and commingling.

Adult humeral and tibial material was selected for study and extensively documented, including observations on pathology and instances of animal modification, resulting in the production of the Gold Mine Site (16RI13) Adult Humerus and Tibia Photographic Catalog. In order to quantitatively determine N, visual pair-matching (VPM) was attempted for both humeri and tibiae; osteometric analysis could not be performed due to the lack of a comparable reference sample, but osteometric data were taken using a combination of the standard Forensic Database Measurements and supplementary measurements for fragmentary remains (Byrd and Adams 2003).

The humerus VPM sample (MNI=53) proved inadequate for visual pair-matching due to the high degree of intra- and interobserver error. The less fragmentary and more morphologically distinct tibia VPM sample (MNI=38; author’s MLNI=65, r=48.48%, CI=50-88) produced more statistically-validated results. Pathologies were observed in over one third of all tibial elements, including multiple cases of anterior bowing (saber shin) possibly linked to treponemal infections. MNI and MLNI for the adult tibiae was lower than previously reported for adult femora (Lans 2011), suggesting differential treatment of the tibia at Gold Mine that restricted its representation within the recovered assemblage. Study of animal modification also yielded new insights into mortuary behaviors at Gold Mine; multiple cases of rodent gnawing consistent with gray squirrel gnawing patterns indicate that skeletal remains were left exposed to the elements for a minimum of 12-30 months prior to final interment within the mound.

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