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Relics from 3,350 B.C. found under I-95 go on display in Fishtown church

Remnants of Native American civilization carbon-dated to the year 3,350 B.C., found under I-95, will go on display tonight.

Archeologists with the URS Corporation clean mud and water from the site of a 3000-5000 year old fire pit discovered while doing construction on I-95 in North Philly. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro Archeologists with the URS Corporation clean mud and water from the site of a 3000-5000 year old fire pit discovered while doing construction on I-95 in North Philly. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro

Remnants of Native American civilization carbon-dated to the year 3350 B.C., found under I-95, will go on display tonight.

"You've got 5,000 years of Philadelphia history here," said Doug Mooney, senior archaeologist with URS, the corporation that designed the I-95 enhancement and is also searching for historic relics before construction begins. "People will see a lot of great artifacts and learn a lot of history about Philly they may not have known before."

Pierrot Lunaire – or “Moonstruck Pierrot” figurine; turn if the 20th century. Credit: PennDOT/URS Pierrot Lunaire – or “Moonstruck Pierrot” figurine; turn if the 20th century. Credit: PennDOT/URS

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The First Presbyterian Church at 418 E. Girard Ave in Fishtown is hosting the exhibition tonight from 6 to 8 p.m.

The finds under I-95 include arrowheads and pieces of ancient pottery from the Delaware tribe.

There are also pieces made at the Dyottsville Glass Works factory, plates, jugs and other housewares of Fishtown and Port Richmond residents of past centuries. Snapping turtle soup was a famous Philadelphia delicacy, and many turtle skulls have been recovered.

Snapping Turtle Skulls – snapping turtle soup was, and still is, a Philadelphia delicacy.  The remains of many turtles have been found in household trash deposits. Credit: PennDOT/URS Snapping Turtle Skulls – snapping turtle soup was, and still is, a Philadelphia delicacy. The remains of many turtles have been found in household trash deposits. Credit: PennDOT/URS

Most items were found in former household trash deposits -- usually the latrines out back, now treasure troves for archaeologists.

"The folks living here in the 18th and 19th centuries did not have trash pick-up," Mooney said. "A convenient place to put it is the nice deep dank hole in your back yard."

The dig is ongoing, Mooney said.

I-95 is in the midst of a three-mile redesign, from Race Street to Allegheny Avenue, begun in 2008, and as work climbs northward, archaeologists will continue sifting dirt for artifacts ahead of construction crews.


For more information on PennDOT’s I-95 improvement projects, visit www.95revive.com.

For additional information on archaeological discoveries from the I-95/Girard Avenue Interchange area, visit www.diggingi95.com.

 
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