Large pieces of decorated white porcelain bowl/vase and plate.

One Man’s Trash is an Archaeologist’s Treasure

If a man’s trash tells his story, then an archaeologist is the ghost-writer of the story. What may appear to most as discarded relics helps an archaeologist create a picture of what everyday life may have been like years ago. Archaeological sites can vary in age from thousands of years to maybe only fifty or so years in age, but they all have one thing in common: they help paint a picture about the past peoples who created the site.

In 2014, CRA conducted a phase Ia archaeological reconnaissance survey for the Cass/Adams CSO Relief Sewer project in Evansville, Indiana. During this initial survey, one site was recorded. The archaeological site was identified as a mid-nineteenth- through twentieth-century dump located in downtown Evansville. Initially, 61 historic artifacts were recovered by CRA from the site. These artifacts consisted of items most popular during the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century. Because there was little domestic material recovered, it was hypothesized that the site represented a historic community residential dump. After the initial fieldwork, CRA recommended the site be avoided, or if avoidance was not possible, then there should be archaeological monitoring during construction activities. It was during the monitoring of the project that CRA identified more artifacts and could begin to paint a picture of life in Evansville in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Recently, the Evansville Courier & Press spoke with Andy Martin and Aaron Harth of the CRA Evansville office about the discovery and what can be learned from the site. Andy and Aaron explain a little more about the project and the artifacts recovered in the video at the end. Kudos to Tanya Faberson, Andy Martin, Aaron Harth, and all those who helped discover the site!