'Buried with his boots on': An integrated life course case-study of a liminal burial from the New Zealand goldrushes

Hallie Buckley, Peter Petchey*, Neville Ritchie, Rebecca Kinaston, Charlotte King, Jonny Geber, Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith, Annie Marie Snoddy, Chris Stantis, Ellen Kendall, Geoff Nowell, Darren Grocke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 to older 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 possible 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-109
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Pacific Archaeology
Issue number2
Early online date26 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jan 2022


Dive into the research topics of ''Buried with his boots on': An integrated life course case-study of a liminal burial from the New Zealand goldrushes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this