Archaeology in DC:
Urban Archaeology in Our Own
informational links below)
Archaeology is the study of people’s
lives through things they left behind. Although it’s not likely to be the first
thing on the minds of most visitors to Washington, archaeologists have been
active here for over a century. William Henry Holmes (1846-1933), curator of the
U.S. National Museum (now the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History), profoundly
influenced the scientific development of modern archaeology. In the DC area,
Holmes conducted an extensive archaeological survey along the shores of the
Potomac River, discovering numerous sites of the region’s earliest inhabitants.
Interest in the ancient history of
local American Indians has remained high since Holmes’ time. Archaeology of the
development of the the city itself, or urban archaeology, got its start much
more recently. In February of 1981, archaeologists spent several cold weeks
inaugurating a new era of archaeology in DC, conducting excavations prior to
construction of the old Civic Center at 9th and H Streets, NW. Since then,
numerous archaeological excavations have been conducted in downtown Washington.
Explore the locations of some of the archaeological
findings in Washington’s historic commercial hub and learn about the things that
lie under some of Washington’s oldest and newest buildings.