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International Journal of Historical Archaeology

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 664–685 | Cite as

Carving Chopsticks, Building Home: Wood Artifacts from the Market Street Chinatown in San Jose, California

  • Jane I. Seiter
  • Michael J. Worthington
  • Barbara L. VossEmail author
  • Megan S. Kane
Article

Abstract

The Market Street Chinatown in San Jose, California, was a thriving urban community until its destruction by arson fire on May 4, 1887. A surprisingly robust assemblage of wood artifacts was recovered during salvage excavations in the mid 1980s. Taxonomic identification and analysis of structural timbers and portable wood objects contribute new perspectives on trade, travel, the built environment, recreation, and work in this nineteenth-century Chinese immigrant community. As wood artifacts are not commonly preserved in open-air archaeological deposits, this study contributes a rare archaeological view on the use of wood materials in nineteenth-century urban life.

Keywords

Chinese immigrant and Chinese American archaeology Wood analysis Archaeology of architecture Material culture 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was conducted as part of the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project, a community-based research and education collaboration between Stanford University, Chinese Historical and Cultural Project, History San José, and Environmental Science Associates. The Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project is funded in part by Stanford University, History San José, and the City of San José Redevelopment Agency in cooperation with the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project and Environmental Science Associates. Analysis of the Market Street Chinatown wood assemblage was supported by a grant from the Lang Fund for Environmental Anthropology. The authors particularly thank Connie Young Yu for sharing her heritage and oral history research, Philip P. Choy, Harry A. Alden, and Ray von Wandruszka for assistance with wood analysis and object identification, and Charles E. Orser, Roberta S. Greenwood, and Mary Maniery for their helpful reviews and comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane I. Seiter
    • 1
  • Michael J. Worthington
    • 1
  • Barbara L. Voss
    • 2
    Email author
  • Megan S. Kane
    • 2
  1. 1.Oxford Tree-Ring LaboratoryBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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