Monday, March 10, 2008

Wharf Walkers

The other day, I was at my internship site reading an archaeological report from an excavation completed in the 1990's. The dig was done in conjunction with the building of the museum's new visitor's center and was intended to survey the cultural resources which might be beneath the proposed construction site. When the remains of a wharf structure were found (no great surprise, as the area being excavated used to be a tidal inlet used for trade and commerce), the construction was halted in order to explore the site in more depth.

I didn't get to read the entire report, but I hope to do so this coming week. Something amusing caught my eye, though. In an attempt at comparative analysis, the report provided a background history of other wharf structures along the Eastern Seaboard. It looked at either extant or former wharves in Philadelphia, Boston, and Salem, MA. Apparently, Central Wharf in Salem was initially covered with a clay surface. The archaeologists who have examined that wharf in the past have found a large number of single shoes embedded in the wharf's surface.

It took a minute for that to sink in, but how great is that? One of my favorite things about history is the unexpected giggles you find. If you disliked the way you were taught history in school, you might not ever get to the fun stuff like that. However, sometimes us historians stumble across gems like this one.