Meeting shows off a rich year in Philadelphia archaeology
By Sandy Bauers
Inquirer Staff Writer
With all the development that has occurred in Philadelphia, archaeologists thought it unlikely they would ever find significant remnants of early Native American cultures.
Those artifacts would have been deeply buried, carted away, or crushed.
But not long ago, along I-95 in North Philadelphia, they uncovered tobacco pipes, arrowheads, pottery, and other Native American artifacts dating back 3,000 years.
Near Mount Holly, they have begun to unearth portions of the African American community of Timbuctoo, founded in the 1820s and a station on the Underground Railroad.
. . . .
In addition to the Native American materials, one of the most surprising recent discoveries at Philadelphia sites is colonoware, a utilitarian pottery found throughout the South in places where African Americans have lived.
And now here? "Part of me says this shouldn't be surprising," [Patti] Jeppson said. Nevertheless, it is changing how historians view the lives of the 2,000 free black people who lived in the city in 1800.
"That's a large number of people. What was their life like? There are virtually no records," Jeppson said. "So we're finding things about their lives. In this case, we're picking up colonoware."
The Constitution Center was a propitious place to hold the forum. Before it was built, archaeologists excavated the site, recovering more than a million artifacts spanning thousands of years of Philadelphia history.
Those bits of history are still being processed and studied.
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