Mining Archaeology in the American West


Mining Archaeology in the American West

A View from the Silver State

Donald L. Hardesty

Historical Archaeology of the American West Series

240 pages
108 illustrations, 19 tables, 10 figures


July 2010


$50.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.

Author Bio

Donald L. Hardesty is a professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is the author of numerous publications, including Assessing Site Significance: A Guide for Archaeologists and Historians (with Barbara J. Little) and The Archaeology of the Donner Party.


"The reader is given a clear and in-depth understanding of the technological, social, cultural, historical, environmental, and archaeological aspects of 19th century American industry, and the qualitative experience of the humans who worked and lived in these remote Western communities."—Cynthia Martin, American Archaeology

"Mining Archaeology in the American West is excellent for the professional or amateur archaeologist and historian interested in how to use a diverse set of documents to understand the development of a mining frontier."—Mark M. Chambers, H-Environment

"In Mining Archaeology in the American West, Hardesty presents a wideranging, detailed overview of the history and archaeology of mining in Nevada ina clear, straightforward way, and this volume would be of use to anyone wishing to better understand western American mining sites."—The Midden

"For archaeologists, this book is a must-read; for anthropologists who have forgotten what archaeology contributes to their science, if they peruse one book on archaeology this year, let it be Hardesty's classic book on silver mining."Catherine Spude, American Anthropologist

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Traveling into Nevada's Mining Past
Chapter 3. The Archaeology of Mining Technology
Chapter 4. The Social Archaeology of Mining
Chapter 5. Conclusions: Understanding Variability and Change on the Mining Frontier
References Cited

Also of Interest