Philly Archaeologists’ Map Hopes to Warn Developers Away From Unmarked Cemeteries

Just one example of the many historic graves uncovered in Philadelphia. Source: phillyarchaeology.net

Nonexistent or weakly enforced laws in Philadelphia have led to historic graves being destroyed by construction. Hastily organized rescue excavations have salvaged some of these human remains, but others have been destroyed, or are threatened by future development projects. In an attempt to reduce the damage to historic cemeteries, archaeologists in the city have produced an interactive map showing where unmarked gravesites and burial yards were located. They caution, however, that the map does not show all historic burial locations, and that even if a historic cemetery is documented to have been relocated at some time in the past, many human remains are likely still present in the original location. Read more about the issues that led to the creation of this map at the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum.

The Late Archaic Site by the Parking Garage: More on Coralville, Iowa

Hotel and plantings near the Edgewater Park Site, Iowa.

The redevelopment of that Coralville, Iowa wetland park/restaurant/hotel complex uncovered a prehistoric archaeological site officially known as the Edgewater Park Site (13JH1132). The initial survey by archaeologists prior to construction discovered that artifacts were present about one meter below the ground surface. Therefore, the upper meter of soil was removed over a 10 x 10 meter area (near the current parking garage) to expose the artifact-bearing layers.

Edgewater Park
Excavation at the Edgewater Park Site, Iowa. Source: The Office of the State Archaeologist, Iowa.

The dig recovered about 15,000 artifacts. Most of these are stone flakes, but there are also 17 projectile points. Ten of these are Table Rock points, a side-notched biface similar to the widespread Late Archaic Durst, Dustin, and Lamoka points found elsewhere. The only other diagnostic point is a Stone Square Stemmed point that also dates to the Late Archaic.

Concentrations of fire-cracked rock likely are the remains of several hearths, and the distribution of the stone debitage (primarily Maynes Creek chert, which is found naturally about 100km away from the site) may reveal areas where individuals were creating stone tools between 3,500 and 3,900 years ago. Three types of plants found at the site, barnyard grass, little barley, and knotweed, could possibly have been cultivated there. Archaeologists think that the Edgewater Park site was a warm-weather camp temporarily used by hunter-gatherers who may have also been beginning to use domesticated plants.

The Office of the State Archaeologist of Iowa has more information on the Edgewater Park Site, and photos of the excavation can be seen on Flickr.

Reference:

William E. Whittaker, Michael T. Dunne, Joe Alan Artz, Sarah E. Horgen and Mark L. Anderson

2007       Edgewater Park: A Late Archaic Campsite along the Iowa River. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 32 (1):5-45.

 

South Riverwalk Park in Trenton, New Jersey

The South Riverwalk Park, or Deck Park, was built on top of the Route 29 Tunnel along the Delaware River in Trenton, New Jersey. The design of the park was informed by the archaeological and historical research conducted prior to construction of the tunnel. A series of arches made of different materials (Steel, iron, brick, wood) represent each century of historic occupation of Trenton. The first arch evokes the construction techniques used by Native Americans for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. Plaques inset into the ground record the many milestones of local history. The south end borders Riverview Cemetery; at the North end, steps lead down to Waterfront Park, the home of the Trenton Thunder, the AA affiliate of the New York Yankees.

Arches
Arches at Trenton South RiverWalk Park

 

Arch
Detail of arch at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
arch
Detail of arch at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
Delaware River
Delaware River at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
Plaque
Plaque at Trenton South RiverWalk Park
bungalow
Bungalow near South RiverWalk Park