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Mining Archaeology in the American West

A View from the Silver State

Donald L. Hardesty

Publication Year: 2010

Mining played a prominent role in the shaping and settling of the American West in the nineteenth century. Following the discovery of the famous Comstock Lode in Nevada in 1859, mining became increasingly industrialized, changing mining technology, society, and culture throughout the world. In the wake of these changes Nevada became an important mining region, with new people and technologies further altering the ways mining was pursued and miners interacted. Historical archaeology offers a research strategy for understanding mining and miners that integrates three independent sources of information about the past: physical remains, documents, and oral testimony. Mining Archaeology in the American West explores mining culture and practices through the microcosm of Nevada’s mining frontier. The history of mining technology, the social and cultural history of miners and mining societies, and the landscapes and environments of mining are topics examined in this multifocus research. In this updated and expanded edition of the seminal work on mining in Nevada, Donald Hardesty brings scholarship up to the present with important new research and insights into how people, technology, culture, architecture, and landscape changed during this period of mining history.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-

Illustrations

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pp. vii-x

Tables

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pp. xi-

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-

Mining and miners left an enduring legacy in the history and landscape of the American West (Smith 1987; Robbins 1994; Hine and Faragher 2000; Paul 2001; Isenberg 2006). Indigenous peoples mined minerals such as salt and turquoise in the region before the arrival of Europeans in the 1500s. Spanish explorers and settlers searched for the mythical El ...

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1. Traveling into Nevada’s Mining Past

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pp. 1-28

Exploring Nevada’s mining past involves traveling through the historical corridors revealed by documents, landscapes, architecture, and the archaeological record. Each pathway follows an independent source of information that can be combined and used interactively with the others to construct models of the past (Deetz 1988). One source of information, ...

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2. The Archaeology of Mining Technology

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pp. 29-108

Perhaps the most visible features in mining sites today are the remains of mining technology (images 14 and 15). Documentary accounts of mining technologies and sociotechnical systems on western mining frontiers can be found in technical and scientific journals such as the Mining and Scientific Press, the Engineering and Mining Journal, the Information Circulars of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, and ...

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3. The Social Archaeology of Mining

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pp. 109-178

Settlement-systems reflect the spatial arrangement of tools, operations, and social formations as well as the coordination of work within mining-related sociotechnical systems. Such social relations are, in the words of Elizabeth Brumfiel (1992:551), “the composite outcomes of negotiation between positioned social agents pursuing their goals under both ecological ...

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4. Conclusions: Understanding Variability and Change on the Mining Frontier

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pp. 179-188

The mining rushes and subsequent mining created and transformed a series of mining frontiers in Nevada and the American West. They varied in detail but shared many social and cultural patterns that reflected similar environmental adaptations. They exhibited flexible and quickly changing social formations and sociotechnical systems, rapid environmental ...

References Cited

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pp. 189-202

Index

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pp. 203-220


E-ISBN-13: 9780803230187
E-ISBN-10: 0803230184
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803224407
Print-ISBN-10: 0803224400

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 108 illustrations, 19 tables, 10 figures
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Historical Archaeology of the American W

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Subject Headings

  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Nevada.
  • Nevada -- Antiquities.
  • Archaeology and history -- Nevada.
  • Industrial archaeology -- Nevada.
  • Social archaeology -- Nevada.
  • Mines and mineral resources -- Nevada -- History.
  • Mines and mineral resources -- Social aspects -- Nevada -- History.
  • Mining engineering -- Nevada -- History.
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