Along I-95, 5,000 Years of History

Archaeological excavations along I-95 are digging up the past

John Madere/CORBIS

A project to rebuild parts of I-95 in Philadelphia is not only repairing infrastructure, but uncovering large parts of the city’s history. As a federally-funded construction program, the Interstate 95/Girard Avenue Interchange project is required by federal law to involve archaeological investigation, and archaeologists working on the multi-year project have uncovered artifacts from the past 5,000 years of the region's history.

“The people in these areas [Kensington-Fishtown and Port Richmond] are not often recorded in historic documents,” Douglas Mooney, an archaeologist working on the project told NBC  “We are learning a lot more about the individuals that once lived here.”

So far, the researchers have uncovered stone tools, arrowheads and pottery from Native Americans that hunted and lived along the Delaware River for thousands of years. Fast-forwarding through the centuries, (and a few more layers of dirt) and the archaeologists found fragments of dishes and clothing that illustrated what home life was like during the Colonial period. Remnants of tools and shards of glass harken back to the early years of the United States when shipbuilding, fishing and glassmaking industries flourished by the river, now skirted by the ribbon of concrete and asphalt that is I-95. 

If you’d like to learn more about some of the items that the researchers have uncovered, you can visit their website: Digging I-95. Like the construction project, the website isn’t complete, but more information will be added in coming years as the investigation unfolds. 

H/T: Archaeology magazine

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