Archeologists reveal Boston brothel secrets

February 3rd, 2011 - 5:08 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 03 (ANI): A team of archaeology students from Boston University are studying Boston’s infamous Big Dig construction project to find out what how the residents of one Boston brothel lived.

Boston’s infamous Big Dig construction project, which rerouted the city’s central artery, unearthed a trove of archaeological treasures in a 19th-century brothel’s outhouse. Buried there were items of importance to the women who made their living outside the margins of polite society: hairbrushes, medicines, and vaginal syringes used for self-medicating and cleaning.

The team hopes that by studying the more than 3,000 artefacts recovered from the outhouse and using old city records, they can gain insight into the day-to-day lives of prostitutes believed to have lived at the property between 1852 and 1883, reports Past Horizons.

“Through our work and analysis, it came to light that this was an interesting, alternative household,” said Mary Beaudry, a College of Arts and Sciences professor and acting chair of archaeology, who is working on the project with her students.

“It was a house of prostitution.”

One of Beaudry’s students, Amanda Johnson’s research showed that at the time, most of the young women who worked as prostitutes in cities came from predominantly rural areas, probably to find work in the city.

“To them, it seemed like a place of opportunity,” Beaudry said.

“But many of them were forced into the low-end brothel houses, or even worse, streetwalking, because that was the only way they could make any kind of a living.”

For Johnson, the most interesting item found at the site was a bottle filled with copaiba oil, a natural remedy used at the time to treat stomach cancers and ulcers.

Team member Katrina Eichner, studied 30 syringe fragments excavated at the site. At first glance, she thought they were hypodermic syringes, but upon closer analysis, discovered they were vaginal syringes, used for personal cleanliness, disease prevention, treatment of disease, and termination of pregnancy.

Eichner’s research found that prostitutes at other 19th-century brothels used similar syringes to inject mercury, arsenic, and vinegar into the body to induce abortions or treat diseases. (ANI)

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