April 12, 2010 Revealing Roxbury
Last Saturday, an enthusiastic group of volunteers turned up at the 1630 Eliot Burying Ground behind the Eustis Street Fire House in Roxbury to begin sifting through a significant pile of dirt. It was a gloriously warm and sunny spring day ? a sharp contrast to the brutally cold week in December when a team of UMass archaeologists first generated the pile. The UMass team was there to create a detailed survey of land behind the building, where HBI will reconstruct an addition to the building as part of its 2010 rehabilitation of Boston?s oldest remaining fire house. Back in December, all of the soil that was excavated was stockpiled in a corner of the burying ground where it would wait until the warmer weather, so it could be sifted and examined for important small materials that might be significant to the history of the site. With spring?s arrival, City of Boston Archaeologist Ellen Berkland rounded up archaeology students and history enthusiasts to scour the dirt pile in search of artifacts.
For a fascinating example of what artifacts can reveal, read about what Big Dig archaeologists learned about the life of colonial Bostonian Katherine Nanny Naylor ? all from examining the contents of her privy!
Many thanks to Ellen Berkland and her volunteers for donating their sunny Saturday to helping HBI complete this important work.