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As a South Jersey Tourism Site Is Modernized, Historic Artifacts Unearthed

(Workers dig in front of the James and Ann Whitall House, built in 1748.  Credit: Steve Tawa)

(Workers dig in front of the James and Ann Whitall House, built in 1748. Credit: Steve Tawa)

Steve Tawa Steve Tawa
Steve Tawa joined KYW Newsradio in 1990, and splits his time between...
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By Steve Tawa

NATIIONAL PARK, N.J. (CBS) — An historic house in Gloucester County is getting an update: a wheelchair-accessible ramp.   And because of that, they’ve created a small archaelogical dig that has turned up some gems.

The process of installing the handicap-compliant ramp is disturbing the ground out front of the 18th century Whithall House Museum in Red Bank Battlefield Park.

Senior archaeologist Doug Mooney of URS Corporation (below) says it’s giving them an excuse to see what’s there.

“You have several thousand years of history compressed into about a 10-inch-thick layer of dirt,” he notes.

Doug Mooney of URS Corporation examines artifacts unearthed in the dig.  Credit: Steve Tawa)

Doug Mooney of URS Corporation examines artifacts unearthed in the dig. Credit: Steve Tawa)

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Mooney says they’ve found quite an assortment of interesting items.

“We’ve got artifacts, the earliest of which are Native American and may go back to 500 BC, straight through to the 20th century,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

Other items include chips of stone that were knocked off when Native Americans were making arrowheads and spear points, as well as pottery.  They’ve also uncovered bits of plates, bottles, glass, clay smoking pipes, buttons, even French-made gun flints from the 1770s, as well as an Andrew Jackson victory button dating from 1828.

The dig was about three feet deep. Archaeologists determined that the grounds received about 1½ to two feet of fill over the years, raising the ground surface around Whitall House. In the upper fill, they found some modern pennies.

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