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Archaeology | Artisans | Everyday Life

April 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016

The Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts hosted the first major exhibition of artifacts recovered from excavations along I-95 in Philadelphia. Numbering nearly a million thus far, the artifacts reveal over five thousand years of history. Visitors to the exhibition were able to experience the archaeologists’ excitement they explored the exhibition and discovered evidence of early Native Americans, Dyottville Glass Works, nineteenth-century glassworkers and potters, and everyday life in their communities.

Exhibit Summary:

As you drive along the Delaware River north of “Old City” Philadelphia the fervor for revitalization and new construction appears to be erasing much of the historic landscape in Northern Liberties, Kensington-Fishtown, and Port Richmond. In reality, tangible links to over 5,000 years of history are there, invisible, preserved underground. Archaeologists working in advance of the I-95 improvement project are recovering these artifacts and using them to recreate life along the river at specific points in time. Newly discovered Native American sites are yielding carefully formed spear projectile points, scrapers, knives, and other artifacts, including evidence of their presence as early as 3560 BC. Other artifacts dating from the late 18th century to the early 20th century provide insight into the daily lives of the families of fishermen, shipwrights, glassblowers and others who lived and worked along the waterfront. Archaeology allows us to understand how they prepared and served their food, lit their homes, cared for the sick, fed their children, and addressed personal and social issues that are still relevant today. The excavations are also revealing important aspects of industries that once defined these neighborhoods. This exhibition focused on two—glass and pottery manufacturing—and told the story of glassworkers and potters who creatively and skillfully took advantage of the resources of the region.

Glass from the archeological dig

Information about the I-95 Improvement Project:
437 High Street, Burlington, NJ 08016

AECOM is conducting excavations on behalf of Pennsylvania
Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration Logo