03 - Shadowed Facts: How the Zooarchaeological Analysis of a Horse Skeleton within a University Teaching Collection Potentially Provides Insight into Early Chicago History and Equine Pathology


Jessica Bishop, University of Illinois at Chicago


This presentation details a zooarchaeological analysis of a horse skeleton, stored unstudied for decades previous in a university teaching collection. Originating from an archaeological site outside of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, the skeleton displays notable pathologies and other osteological changes that potentially reflect its living use and conditions. While excavated from the site of the 19th-century Laughton Trading Post, the time and explanation for entering the archaeological record remains up for debate. Elaborating upon skeletal and historical data, this study investigates multiple hypotheses regarding the horse’s life history and potential significance within the context of the Laughton Trading Post and as a reflection of early Chicago history. This study also highlights the exploratory process utilized in connecting this specimen with its context as well as reinforcing the potential value in the reexamination of legacy collections.