Pig Femur Physical Object

Accession Number
Alternate object names
Pig femur from the 1622 galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. This is one of many animal bones recovered from the shipwreck. It likely represents a cut of salted meat carried on the galleon.
Exhibition Label
Case Caption (2023):


Juan de Veas, aboard the Santa Margarita, and Diego de Medina, on the Nuestra Señora de Atocha held the post of steward on their respective ships. In every port these officers would go ashore to bargain with local merchants for water, wine cheese, and barrels of pork or beef preserved in salt. These were the basics of the crew’s diet, and it was up to each steward to purchase enough provisions without exceeding his budget for the voyage. Fishing was only an option if the ships were becalmed.

Officers and well-to-do passengers paid the stewards to buy them better provisions. The bottle tops found on the ships would have capped glass bottles holding brandy or fortified wine. In Havana, the stewards would have purchased live animals to be butchered during the voyage, ranging from cattle and hogs to chickens and turtles. These were expensive and took up valuable space, but fresh meat was far preferable to salted.

Seeds from pumpkins, squash, chili peppers and olives, as well as nuts and dried fruit would have added some variety. However, rates, roaches, and other pests constantly attached and contaminated the food, as the gnawed hazelnut shells indicate here.
Object Caption (2023):

Pig (Sus scrofa)
Femur (c.1622)
Gift of Jamestown Inc.
1986.008.2652, 1986.008.2663