'Buried with his boots on': An integrated life course case-study of a liminal burial from the New Zealand goldrushes
The New Zealand goldrushes of the mid nineteenth century saw an influx of, mostly, men surging into the Otago region in search of riches. Times were tough and the men had to cope with harsh weather and dangerous work practices to survive. Many lost their lives and most of these men remain anonymous. This paper presents a detailed life-course case study of a middle-aged man who lived, and died, in this biosocial landscape. The integration of osteological, chemical and molecular data reveals a life of hardship in his early years, improved nutrition from adolescence, and poor oral health as an adult. He also experienced injury as an adult and likely periodic nutritional deficiency in the last few years of his life. Morphological and molecular analyses attest to this man being of European ancestry, despite local stories of him being a ‘black man’ who drowned. His grave was liminal, located far from any formal cemetery, and the grave and been disturbed, possibly due to looting. While his identity remains unknown, his earthly remains encapsulate a typical early gold diggers life with experiences of poor beginnings and an ignoble, often anonymous end.