tv Museum of the American Revolution Archaeology CSPAN February 5, 2017 6:00pm-6:42pm EST
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history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like .s on facebook >> philadelphia's museum of the american revolution is scheduled to open on april 19. before constructing the museum, a team of archaeologists excavated the site a few blocks from independence hall and, in the process, they eventually uncovered about 82,000 artifacts. "american artifacts" we will see a selection of these objects and learn about the history of this block of philadelphia from the early 18th century up to the 1940's. >> i'm the vice president of collections, exhibitions and programming at the museum of the american revolution in philadelphia. >> and i was the principal archaeologist for the archaeological excavation of this site before the building was built.
>> so, we are standing about 25 service, ifhe land you are walking from the delaware river and come to third and chestnut streets, we are about 20 or 30 feet underground and this is where the excavations were done for the new museum. plenty of time in the dirt on this very same site, so it is estimating to be in this building that exists in the same place where we were out there with our hardhats, trowels and the whole shebang. that is what urban archaeology is. this is about as urban a site as you can get in the united states today. this is a map done in 1683, so this is the earliest engraved that shows the town laid out by william penn for philadelphia, the capital of pennsylvania.
square is the footprint of the building we are standing in and, as you can see, these are the original lots sold in the 16 80's. so this site has been intensely occupied, has had human occupation for tens of thousands of years, way back to native americans, but during the british colonial time beginning it has beencentury, built, torn down, filled and moved. neighborhoodich , todoing urban archaeology uncover the material culture of generations of americans. it is also very complex. >> because there have been all of those buildings and because it has been occupied for so many centuries, there could have been
nothing here because the buildings built on this site in the 19th century had very deep easements. some of them had double basements, the usual eight-foot whereth and then, this is the blue shows there were just regular basements under those 19th-century buildings and the green shows where there were double basements, flood basements. those were particularly deep holes that had been dug where there used to be backyards. and we didn't know once we started to do the archaeology whether those the basements would have destroyed everything that was in the backyard and, of course it was the backyards, the holes dug in the backyards for wells or cisterns that we were in urbanor because archaeology, it is those deep features that produce the assemblages of artifacts that we then try to connect to people in
is to tellurpose stories of the people who lived here over time. complex, urban site like this were even had all these different campaigns of holding and tearing down and basements eating dug and filled and doug again, it was interesting that even in cases where these deep a summons occurred, we were able to recover artifacts. you talk a lot kinds of features -- what are the holes in the ground of all of these things that come out in pieces and you put them together and see what they look like before they were broken. the 18thge disposal of century. >> there was no garbage collection, so people had to get rid of their garbage and some way or another. so if you had a hole in the backyard like the whole under or an old cistern
that had been collecting water that is no longer being used for of thoseg water, any empty holes, you might throw your trash in. when they built the buildings in the 19th century with the deep basements, they would have sliced off the top of those polls, these shafts in philadelphia. some cities are lined with wood and some were lined with stone, in philadelphia, they are lined with brick. so there are these narrow shafts that have been locked off at the top by the basements of the buildings built over the original backyards. we are looking at the trash concentrated in the bottom and we did get layer by layer. it's not clear it belonged to one family. we have to date the layers. we do its stratigraphic lay. you see it change either in the
calm -- the content of the layer, the texture, so, you dig layer by layer and all of these things came out of one layer. up toyer is what we link who was living there when this stuff was thrown out. fashions change, so that allows us to date the objects from generation to generation. isurban archaeology dangerous because you are going down into these deep shafts and we have to dismantle the shaft to comply with regulations so you have to dismantle the shaft and keep going down. you need heavy machinery to help move the dirt back and out of the way, take the bricks away and so it is complicated and
exciting because you have all of these people with different skills. those machine operators who are usually moving big stuff, i just want an inch off because i think there might be a privy, they do it. theyare so skilled that can do anything. that's part of the fun of doing urban archaeology -- people with so many different skills and then the machine drivers and various operators may never have been exposed to an archaeological site, so it is always a learning process. just want you to get out of the way and as they see what they get, they get interested, even if it is woken up in pieces. so one of the things we like to do is bring back the things we moved together so they can see that we have these objects and
the person who was out there supervising the construction wanted the report because he was so excited to find out all those made a story and had been pasted together to construct a story, so that's very rewarding when people appreciate that. enough, as igly was darned nervous when we started the project that there wouldn't be anything there, but a lot of the site was disturbed, especially in the middle. but around the edges, first in this area, it did turn out to be the richest area because it had not been disturbed. but we found stuff over here and over here, and so these artifacts tell the story chronologically that we were able to reconstruct out of the find so that we could start
telling the story. would you like me to do that? one of the things about this site is it slopes down to talk creek. that was the center of the tanning industry, so it's one of the first industries in philadelphia. >> this is actually tanning leather. >> a very foul industry that fell sleep creek and everybody complained and it was smelly and awful. onesome people got rich and of the people who lived on the site was william hudson, who was an early mayor of philadelphia. he was a tanner and we hoped we would be able to excavate his site. that was one of the sites that was completely destroyed by one of the basements i was talking about. on the other side, there was another hole that was full of artifacts that included this kind of horn. plus fragments of leather and
other animal bones so that we knew this was remains from the tanning industry. it probably related to a less rich guy who lived in a tiny house on the east edge of the site and among his possessions was this beautiful job that was made in germany. we can sort of connect with this man who was walking down the slope, going to his job as a and maybeving a beer his jug reminded him of home because he probably came from germany. the immigrant groups who first came over from philadelphia were german, so it's neat to touch on this
person's life. is there wereg loads of hits from cherries, more than you get in most of situations, so we suspect someone was baking or making some kind of liqueur for sale. somebody came to me after the lecture the other night and talked about a member of the carter family who was a banker. , we may be able to say something about the carter's being involved and setting up a bakery there and this household that was in the tanning industry. beginning with the artifacts, it leads us to these places and into people's lives. >> we should mention that a lot of these features were from houses clustered around a little alley called carter's alley that ran through what is now the center of the site. nott of these houses were
on the big main streets of philadelphia. it's almost a little world back there between walnut and chestnut and second and third streets. i love the objects like this wall because they are a reminder of how connected philadelphia is to the world. we often think of oceans as barriers, but they were highways. it was easier to ship something from rotterdam to philadelphia than it was to take a wagon load of goods to what is now pittsburgh. so this was the largest port in north america and there was almost nothing in philadelphia, even as early as the 18th century, within weeks of someone in london, europeans often it was how quickly
the new fashions were adapted in these verbal things that survived and speak to that connection. >> and we are so close to the delaware, just a couple of walks from the river. very exciting. so, that's our earliest feature. then there was the house right on the eastern side and what was interesting is one of the earliest property owners, a man named william smith owns the property, so what we expected when we found this particular to have things that related to those men's household, but we got all of these.
this was served in taverns and was kind of scalded milk with some kind of liquor put into it. and were english made know the dates they were being -- 1695 to 1776 in this country. when you see a lot of these commie suspect this is a tavern because they don't need 37 of these in anybody's private household. they are wonderful because they are slightly different. this decorative technique is not completely controllable. some of it is by chance, so we have this collection that shows variation in decorations that can appear on these pots. and samuel garrett and their families are living there and we've got all this tavern stuff comes so it is confusing.
we have a lot of these decorated radware things that were in bigous sizes and wonderful, chargers. have an example because they are out being developed for an exhibit. it's an important collection byause they were all made local trotters and we can identify the location of the pottery. valuable.things are if you wanted to buy one in an antique store, it would cost a lot of money. tavern, theyhe were the cheapest stuff available. were just being made and it happens that we find it there and they are beautiful. we did not know we had a tavern on chestnut street. runn named joseph gates had
a tavern not on our side but across the street. appeared to have come from the tavern across the street and the two households. so these, for instance, you know what these are. they are wig curlers. we have a lot of these and it had aout one of these men weights and measures shop, so we think it came from his shop and he was a wealthy land owner and probably also had his finger in the tanning industry. complicated, but that is typical of urban archaeology.
we are always wishing those guys would just appear and why is it we have this whole mixture? we think it's because in the 1760's, which all of this stuff people who owned the site that's part of the museum site was selling the property. there are carpenters and painters and they appear to be inviting people to throw stuff in their privy and make the product more salable. so that is an excuse for the tavern guide to throw his stuff in our privy and how lucky for us because this is one of the most interesting and beautiful collections you are going to display. level of theer museum, we will have a discovery center that includes
re-creations of a tavern, a meeting house and a domestic this era of the american revolution and that will be for school groups and families to come and have a hands-on experience. we are going to use a lot of the objects and put them on display in the family discovery center, so people will be able to see within 20t were used or 30 feet of where they are standing. literally where we built the museum. can't tell you how excited i am because often we do these excavations and whoever hires us, they are just trying to get building built and comply with the various laws, but then they don't have anything to do with the artifacts.
so, to have the artifacts actually be useful and get interpreted on the site is really special. scott had an archaeological background. he was sensitive to the fact that archaeology could mean something and contribute to interpreting facts which makes me happy. because i have a background in archaeology, there's a story connected to one of our most exciting objects. i'm an archaeologist but working and historian and curator there is a very famous teapot that many people will have seen from schoolbooks.
inscribed on the side of these teapots, it says no stand back. it refers to the american protests against the first direct tax from the british element on colonial americans. it is such an iconic object, we thought that too display the teapot from philadelphia would be great, so i went to the field director and said can i put in an order? and twoven be broken hours later, i got a text. us tell you why that story is relevant. we have moved over here, so this is another privy associated with the house owned by a cutler and his wife. and axesmakes flatware
and things like that. the artifacts look like a tavern. with no tavern license, there was no owner in the record, so we really wanted to know, we wanted to see how to get to this bowl so we did find an arrest cutler -- mrs.. humphries. mrs. humphries was running an and she wasavern being arrested and hauled through the streets and made to do hard labor for three months and put in jail for running this tavern which had just been mentioned -- carter's alley is this back alley paralleled to chestnut street.
is a revolutionary speakeasy. artifact came from that. scotte were in the field, made his request and catherine is on her knees at the bottom of the privy and starts finding these shirts with words on them. then she called over the whole crew. she's excavating one after another and when they were successogether, it says to the trifle enough. so you have to go to the newspapers. do you see how it is the interweaving of the written record, primary record, secondary record, the artifacts -- that's what is fun is that we
just weave it all together. we told scott we had this artifact and he found the best information of all and it is just what he wanted. off, it was a merchant ship based in philadelphia. it sailed between philadelphia and liverpool and would make journeys to south carolina and the west indies. trade,the transatlantic the bull was made in liverpool, so it is made in liverpool and the ship's goals were commissioned to celebrate a voyage or commission of a new ship and would be given to owners were captains of these ships. , looking through colonial newspapers and of course, digitize asian has made this a lot easier.
a couple of hours of searching, we were able to establish that the ship begins appearing in 1760,isements around 1763. there are notices of goods being sold in this neighborhood and the lists of all the goods, but the connection to my request is in december of 1765. it carried a protest against the by all theigned merchants in philadelphia and address not likely to parliament, but to the manufacturers and tradesmen in england, basically saying we and you to put pressure overturn the stamp act. we think about the by local movement as something of our
era, but this was at the beginning of the revolution. to thes a connection bigger political story and we repaired.s broken and werest of these artifacts not thrown out until the 1780's. made, it had was to be made before the 1760's. did it have political significance? we don't know, not it had some significance. just passingre not it around to drink out of it, but it was special. able to find the perfect artifact from the american revolution?
we are very excited that it happened and they have reproduced it. with one of the premier ceramic artisans and historians in virginia who specializes among other things and doing accurate, archaeological replicas for just these sorts of interest. whichcorated this all at whats to have a look was like when it was brand-new sitting on the shelf. >> but there is something different about it. .t was really there >> speakeasy, i like to call it. >> she may have had prostitutes hanging around.
that's what she was being arrested for. incidentally, this beautiful teapot came from the same assemblage of artifacts. tea or mrs.rving humphries was serving tea when she wasn't behind the bar. there were a lot of bottles from this feature. we kept looking for more, but there was no more as significant as this. was hanging over the fence asking us to find more. he was not satisfied. >> all of the 19th century buildings, what was done by those poor immigrants and put into the wagons and spread all over the ground, we are just getting a tiny sliver of what was on that site.
thatmake the point again i'm not sorry we got a tiny sliver because we were able to, and a year, interpret the data and do the research. every single assemblage of artifacts, everyone of those privies are something after you date the artifacts. you have to find out who was living there at the time and what was the conceivable relationship between the things you got out of the ground? something, sot we're getting an insight into who they are. stories, we know enough to be able to bring them to life. in a three-dimensional way. >> and of course, life goes on after the revolution. >> and mrs. humphries, even though she's done three months
of hard labor, she lives into her 90's. in that same house, at that same address. there was another privy closed after her death and after the death of the people -- are great niece living there and her husband was a mariner and they had very different kinds of things. this is staffordshire. they still using things imported from england. what i love best about this group of artifacts is there's this plane right -- plain white stuff. dinner plates, lunch plates, soup plates and all different kinds of plates. to the 1820's and eight teen 30's. in the 18th century, she has the
same set of dishes, only it was not as white. process was to get them wider and wider. she was a quaker lady. she may have been running an illegal tavern and she may have had prostitutes hanging around. all of that, but she was a good quaker lady. she said a plane table. she had her white ware set in the 1820's and 30's. when i saw those two identical sets from those features that were a lot -- that belong to the same property, they keep with the same styles. it seems they had to have the new stuff made of the new technology, even though it was made of the old stuff.
there were also the beautiful transfer printed things and you will have a selection of those in your new museum. that's the 1830's. came in the middle of the century. there were lots of shops along chestnut street, but one of the big changes was this huge building, and eight story building. >> chestnut street, 3rd street. this is the footprint now of the museum of the american revolution. >> he splits the building and the look of the street front and obviously --he is who knows what kind of guy.
when the park service owns this land, which they did in the 1950's, when they were creating independence national historical park, they took a lot of buildings down in the whole area, including this lock, that they did not think fit the story that they wanted to tell. this building seemed pretty special to charlie peterson, who was the historian who worked for the park services. he wanted that building safe because he said it was so significant. in the history of architecture in this country, this was the prototype. and he lost. they took the building down anyway. but we found its foundation and that warmed my heart. i thought charlie, i hope you
are looking down because there is a huge granite foundation still in the ground. >> which broke some of the machinery they were trying to move it with. >> it was very difficult to move them and he wanted to save one to put it in front of the museum. >> it was large and heavy. next it was great that building was so immovable that it's foundations were still in place. not only did we find the foundations, we found a door that went under carter's alley because the building had been extended on both sides of the alley. so it is fascinating to see this door and we have wonderful pictures of it. that is 1850. the print, on the black. there were a lot of printers on
this block and, this was print type found over by 3rd street. one of the members of our team, kevin bradley did a study of this trend type and studied the different printers located on the block and this one dated to the 1860's. it turns out the philadelphia inquirer, a newspaper still being printed in the city had an office at the location where this print type was recovered. and they were moving in the 1860's and so it looks as if this got into the trash before they move their office to a new location. touches on another important industry in philadelphia's history. block waslly the taken over by a factory that
made shell buttons. i think it was here from the 1920's up to world war ii. >> that means it's the buttons we have on the sleeves of our jackets. they are not made of shell anymore. >> we have huge amounts of debris. tens of thousands of shells with these little notches taken out. we sampled the debris. we did not recover at all. shells, we were able to give them to the museum and they have use them to give to dignitaries and people are excited because just like everything, it is a material piece of the history of this place which is what historical archaeology is. so, to have a lot of material from this latest industry is
really neat. one of the chapters talks about the button making industry and who was making them here. you can see we go from the tanning industry, which was the earliest industry. one of the early industries of philadelphia through the thriving taverns and the arguments that would have gone on during the revolutionary war over drink and how people recovered after the revolutionary war, how they were setting tables and what their lives were like up to the building of the skyscraper and the button factory. saying this site tells the whole story. i've never had a site that tells a story, even though it was heavily disturbed and even
though all of the buildings had their deep basements, we had this long story to tell. much of that story is going to be told right here. history is written about rich political white men. it is getting a little better but usually, it's not written about the common people and how the common people were living. gets toal archaeology the kind of history that isn't necessarily in history books and lets you think about your own of whatthe perspective other people's lives were our lives in 18th century were. , this is notis us the rich people with political power. this is the story of us and how we lived and how we adapt and organize our lives and organize
our property. that's why it is significant and it is very significant that it is on the site of the museum because the museum's purpose is to tell you about the past, but to get this whole story of this piece of ground is special. you could tell the story of the history ofut a piece of philadelphia that changed over time and left a material record for us. fight of the museum of the american revolution was part of independence national historical park created in the 1950's and was federal property of the private, nonprofit organization that is operating and acquired the site through a land exchange. so the land that was owned near valley forge was incorporated or
the park in the side, which would -- which was an old visitors center built for the bicentennial didn't have a future. but because it was federal ofperty, the highest level cultural resource consulting and archaeological investigation transfers to that land. right by thedo resources in the ground, so we complied with all the federal regulation, the historic preservation act to consult with them -- to consult with native american nations that had relations to do archaeology to make sure all the data was recovered. >> we did look for native american stuff because as you said, in your initial remark, there was probably some native
this and weff on had a monitor on the site during the early excavation to be certain we weren't missing anything. unfortunately, it had been disturbed. >> the museum of the american revolution will open in philadelphia in april of 2017 -- the building is completed, we are installing installations right now. they are being restored and are being displayed, some of them in the core exhibition. many other items will be displayed in our family that will lookr at domestic life in different settings in this neighborhood.