An archeological exploration in Boston is turning up trash that could soon add to knowledge of life in that city in the 18th century.
Archeologist Joseph Bagley has been leading a dig for the past two weeks at 21 Unity St., near the Old North Church. According to the Boston Globe, “Bagley and a crew of volunteers [have already] collected tens of thousands of times from the 1700s. The haul included long-ago leftovers of everyday life: animal bones, doll parts, and uncounted chips and fragments of dishes and cups.”
The house where the dig is occurring was built in 1715, even before the Old North Church was built. The relics appear to come from a trash dump in the backyard of the house. Bagley is quoted as saying he expected to find mo stly material from later periods, perhaps the first half of the 19th century, when more development had taken place, but the buried trash survived the later inhabitants.
Bagley and officials from the city and the church, which owns the property, are thrilled, though, to find so many relics from nearly 400 years ago. The import of the finds is not entirely clear yet — this is the “taking notes” phase of the research — but the church plans to host a presentation on the findings in the Fall. The unearthed trash may well provide interesting and important details about the day-to-day lives of Bostonians, the everyday stuff that was the context of Cotton Mather’s later life and Benjamin Franklin’s earliest days.
“This will tell a lot about what people were eating, what toys they were using, and what else was going in [the trash] in the backyard,” Bagley said.
— Daniel Silliman