The Salvage of the Arch Street Site
Salvage archaeology, sometimes called rescue archaeology, occurs when an archaeological site would otherwise be destroyed by construction or natural processes such as flooding. In these situations, archaeologists recover what they can, sometimes electing to only excavate a portion of the site. In the case of Arch Street, it was the project team's goal to rescue all human remains so that construction could continue.
In March 2017, archaeologists worked with construction workers on the salvage operation at the Arch Street cemetery. Coffins and loose remains were recovered and moved offsite. The process was arduous, but volunteers worked diligently, sifting through dirt to recover as many bones and artifacts as possible. Archaeologists have now recovered several hundred individual burials.
Now that the salvage excavation of the Arch Street site is coming to a close, there is much work to be done in studying these people from Philadelphia's past, learning who they were so that they might be reinterred with their family whose remains were successfully moved in the 1800s.
If you would like to help fund the project's research, please visit our donation website.
(Photo by Evi Numen)