Rutgers Day 2018

Arch Street Project booth with infamous chunks of dirt and future archaeologists. Photo by Don Groff.

On April 28, 2018, several Arch Street Project members hosted tables at the annual Rutgers Day (on their Camden campus), an event where individual departments offer "free exhibits, hands-on activities, lectures, demonstrations, children’s programs and more, aimed at the general public, parents and children, teens, current and prospective students, and alumni." [1] At our booth, the ASP team set up an educational video about the project, a detailed poster for those interested in the project's history, a table showcasing the research into the historical record led by team historian Nicholas Bonneau, a display case of exemplary artifacts, and examples of the skeletal material recovered from the site for a brief introduction on what exactly biological anthropology is, what we can learn from the bones, and why we want to study the human remains from the First Baptist Church (an important aspect of our public outreach). 

Our third table hosted what was ultimately deemed a major success among the children who attended the event: several large chunks of dirt. These chunks of dirt were excavated from an emptied coffin which had its human remains previously removed, likely during the 1860 transfer of remains to the Mount Moriah Cemetery. From their surfaces, we could see that the chunks of dirt contained small artifacts, but we needed to know what treasures lay within. Under the supervision of team members Allison Grunwald and Kimberlee Moran, children used wooden clay carving tools and toothbrushes to excavate artifacts from the dirt chunks, one of which was bigger than our heads. Our Junior Archaeologists found brick, shell, charcoal, coal, a piece of a clay pipe, a glazed ceramic sherd, and two surprises: a dog's tooth and a fish bone, both firsts for the site's recovered faunal remains. These artifacts are now safe in our lab space at Rutgers, to be analyzed by our specialists in due course.

We had a blast talking with the public about the site, and especially working with Junior Archaeologists. Thanks to Rutgers University—Camden for hosting this wonderful event.