While improving an interstate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, archaeologists checking the area for significant sites didn’t have to dig far to find something—just six feet below the surface they discovered a wealth of Native American artifacts, reports CBS Philly.
Those artifacts could provide a look at what Native life was like before Philadelphia became what it is today.
“People have always known that there were Native Americans here, of course, William Penn in 1683 signed his treaty with the Delaware Indians here. But until about 10 years ago there were no known intact Native American sites in Philadelphia, and everybody assumed that with 300-plus years of historic development how could something as fragile as a Native American site survive here,” Doug Mooney of URS Corp., head archaeologist for the project, told CBS Philly. “What we’ve found in the past 10 years is that a lot of the ground in Philadelphia has been disturbed by construction, but there are still these little pockets where you can still find parts of the original ground of Philadelphia preserved in place, and in that original ground surface you do find Native American artifacts if you take the time to look for them.”
Mooney said that as part of the I-95 investigations, which are meant to ensure no sites are damaged, they have found 10 new Native American sites—the earliest dating to 3,500 B.C. and the most recent to 1,500 A.D.
“These new sites are going to help us learn what these Native peoples—what their cultures were like, how they survived in the landscape, a lot of information that we didn’t have for Philadelphia… this is all brand new information that’s going to help us better understand the Native peoples of the area,” Mooney told CBS Philly.
Archaeologists have found spear points, arrowheads, stone tools, and pottery pieces, including gorget that had been etched and drilled so it could be worn.
“One of the things that Native American peoples will tell you is that, ‘you know we never left—maybe personally we were forced out or moved west, but our spirit has always been here.’ These artifacts certainly confirm the fact that, in reality, they never did leave, they still have a presence here in Philadelphia,” Mooney told CBS Philly.
Listen to an interview CBS Philly did with Mooney here.