A group of archaeologists, historians and UB graduate students is uncovering the history of Buffalo’s waterfront one shovelful of dirt at a time this summer--and the public is invited to come watch.
At an excavation site a stone’s throw away from the construction taking place along Main Street at Canalside, the team is hoping to uncover artifacts dating back to Buffalo’s 19th-century heyday as the site of the Erie Canal terminus.
The summer Demonstration Archaeological Excavation is sponsored by UB Archaeological Survey in the Department of Anthropology and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.
This is not the first such excavation to be carried out downtown, but this year’s dig promises to be longer and more extensive than before. Archaeologists first broke ground at the site June 5, using a backhoe to dig deeper into ground than in previous digs in hopes of uncovering older remnants of Buffalo’s industrial, residential and maritime past.
Since then, the team has been conducting the excavation by hand so as not to overlook or damage any artifacts on site.
Artifacts found in previous digs include bottles, household items, crockery, dolls, and a variety of industrial and maritime tools. A selection of those items is on display at the current excavation site, where curious visitors are invited to ask archaeologists to explain their significance.
Those interested in watching the team at work should visit the site from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on any of the following dates: Wednesday, July 13, 17, 27, and 31; Aug. 7, 10, and 21. The excavation site is bounded by Main and Hanover streets east of the Skyway pier, and is marked with large banners.