NJ bridge dig turns up
Native American artifacts
Ewing, New Jersey (AP)
A $1.1 million archaeological dig that has been under way for
months as part of the proposed Scudder Falls Bridge replacement
project has turned up evidence that Native Americans lived at
the site as long ago as 500 B.C. and as recently as 1500 A.D.
“The most intriguing evidence (in Ewing) are the physical
remains of a large number of hearths,” said John Lawrence, a
senior archaeologist with AECOM, the Trenton-based engineering
firm hired by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission,
which owns and operates the Scudder Falls Bridge and is paying
for the dig.
“They are the remains of where the Native Americans would have
been cooking food for storage and for daily meals,” Lawrence
said of the hearths.
AECOM is conducting the dig with the New Jersey and Pennsylvania
historic preservation offices to determine if any artifacts
might be affected by the proposed bridge project, said Joe
Donnelly, a spokesman for the commission.
The dig started in October, with 10 people in the field and two
in the laboratory working 40-hour weeks in all kinds of weather.
Lawrence said archeologists should be done digging in Ewing this
week. A dig across the Delaware River in Yardley is projected to
take three or four months once it begins, which could happen
within a month, Lawrence said.
In Ewing two weeks ago, the archaeological team found the
charred remains of nut shells that might be evidence of the
Native Americans’ diet.
Other artifacts found so far include little chips of stone that
the Native Americans might have used to create a tool, such as
“Many of the artifacts would just be a piece of stone to a
layman, but information about the technology being employed by
Native Americans to make their tools tells us about their ways
of life,” Lawrence said.
About 10 percent of the artifacts are tools, including
projectile points, pottery, markers used for drawings, and
hammer stones, Lawrence said. The artifacts are taken from the
site to an offsite lab where they are cleaned, processed and
catalogued. Some objects, such as ceramics that might
contain plant or animal residue, are sent to a specialized lab
for analysis, Lawrence said.
When the project is done, the artifacts will be taken to the New
Jersey State Museum, where researchers and others who are
interested can look at them and analyze them.
Donnelly said archaeological digs like this one are standard
procedure when large-scale public projects such as bridges or
highways are proposed. If the site has been determined to
contain significant information about the past, the
archeologists will recover that information before the project
moves ahead and affects the site, Donnelly said.
Construction is set to begin in 2013.