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Historical Archaeology

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 148–161 | Cite as

Rails Built of the Ancestors’ Bones: The Bioarchaeology of the Overseas Chinese Experience

  • Ryan P. Harrod (瑞安 ‧ 哈罗德)
  • John J. Crandall (约翰 ‧ 克朗达)
Article

Abstract

Between 1865 and 1869, thousands of Chinese immigrants came to the United States to construct the transcontinental railroad. Their impact went beyond labor and helped to develop the social and economic landscape of the country through their ingenuity. Archaeological analyses are especially important for understanding the Chinese in historical America because of the lack of written records. Bioarchaeology can contribute by providing a glimpse into the lives of these resourceful and diverse laborers who toiled to contribute to the development of the railways in the 19th century. The reanalysis of the remains of 13 Chinese men recovered from a cemetery in Carlin, Nevada, reveals that most individuals exhibited widespread musculoskeletal development suggesting frequent, repeated bodily strain. Additionally, all 13 individuals exhibited skeletal trauma or pathologies. The men recovered from Carlin reveal the extent to which Chinese railroad workers endured exploitative oppression and racism, while simultaneously embodying resilience.

祖先白骨建成的铁轨: 对海外华人生活经验的生物考古学

Chouxiàng

在1865 至 1869 年间, 成千上万的中国移民来到美国修建横 贯大陆铁路。他们所带来的影响远不止其劳动力。他们的 创造力促进了整个美国社会与经济的发展。由于缺少文字 记载, 考古学分析对我们理解这些中国工人十分重要。生 物考古学则尤为重要, 因为它可以展现这些工人的足智多 谋、多样化的生活。本文对内华达州卡林镇一处公墓中发 掘的13具中国工人遗骸进行了重新分析。分析结果显示, 这些人的肌骨骼发展暗示了频繁和重复性的身体劳损。除 此之外, 这13个人都显示出骨骼的损伤与病兆。卡林工人 的遗骸揭示了中国铁路工人所受的剥削性压迫和种族歧视 的程度, 却也同时展现了他们不屈不挠的精神。

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan P. Harrod (瑞安 ‧ 哈罗德)
    • 1
  • John J. Crandall (约翰 ‧ 克朗达)
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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