An archaeology team from John Milner Associates (JMA) is excavating the site where the Museum of the American Revolution will be built. Each Monday, lead archaeologist Rebecca Yamin shares a recap of the previous week’s work. Today, she reveals the team’s newest findings:
As is often the case with urban archaeology, things turn up where they are not expected.
Last week the archaeologists uncovered a wall that spans the width of Carter’s Alley, which started at Second Street, but did not run all the way through to Third Street until the early 19th century. The wall is built of alternating layers of cut stone and brick, a rather distinctive style. Its builder’s trench (which is the trench dug to support a wall) contained the same kinds of 18th-century artifacts—ceramic sherds, straight pins, and glass fragments—that were recovered from the midden next to it that we investigated last week.
Another rubble stone and brick wall was found on the south side of Carter’s Alley and its builder’s trench also included 18th-century artifacts. Among them were lots of small pieces of animal bone and oyster shells, perhaps the remnants of meals enjoyed more than 250 years ago.
A two-foot diameter brick circle in the middle of the alley that we discovered last week was probably a communal well used by alley residents. According to the documentary record, the alley was “closely built on both sides.” The top two feet or so of fill in the well consisted of cinders, but as the archaeologists dug deeper they found a “Jayne’s Expectorant” bottle. Dr. David Jayne manufactured patent medicines on the block as early as 1852.
Several large flat cut stones uncovered on the north side of Carter’s Alley during the first week of excavation appear to relate to the famous Jayne building—the city’s first “skyscraper,” which stood on the site. It was taken down in the 1950s when Independence National Historical Park was created.
Have questions for Dr. Yamin and her team? She’ll be available to talk about their work every Thursday between 10am-2pm on the steps of the First Bank of the United States across the street from the construction site. Or submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer them in a future post.
Image Credit: John Milner Associates, Inc.