July 13, 2009

SugarHouse unearths Native artifacts

SugarHouse curtails work retrieving artifacts

By Jennifer LinIn a corner of the SugarHouse Casino property on Delaware Avenue, archaeologists hit a mother lode of Native American artifacts.

From a plot about the size of a public pool, crews unearthed 182 items in only a foot or so of soil. Some date back 5,000 years, making this the largest single discovery of prehistoric items in the city, local archaeologists say.

So significant is the find that experts for federal and state agencies have urged deeper excavation of the site.

But what other treasures lie hidden there will not be revealed anytime soon.

SugarHouse has changed its design plan. One consequence is that the area where the Indian relics were discovered will be paved for a parking lot, said Leigh Whitaker, a spokeswoman for the project.

The developer also will postpone excavating under Penn Street for evidence of a Revolutionary-era British fort and investigating seven shafts that could be colonial privies.
Comment:  Ironic that a non-Native casino would dig up Native artifacts in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Foxwoods has generated controversy with its plans to open a casino nearby but hasn't found any artifacts.

It's a bit hard to tell from the article, but it appears the SugarHouse people are being somewhat sensitive to the artifacts. They aren't simply plowing them under. Unlike, say, the city of Oxford's approach to its ancient Indian mound.

If they pave over the site for a parking lot, I presume that'll preserve the artifacts for future excavation. The real problem is if they plan to dig up and destroy the site instead.

For more on casinos in Philadelphia, see Chinatown vs. Foxwoods.

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