Thursday August 14th 2008 Privy Dig
Today We arranged to go to Philadelphia and dig on a small construction site. That Matt and George had found a few days before. It was in a section of Philly where the pits are very deep. We Arrived in Philly about 7:00am and met up with Matt and George in South Philly. We then headed to the site. Once there George quickly reprobed the pit and we started opening it up. The top few feet were full of modern debris from the pit settling over the years. Including a spare tire and quite a bit of drywall and bricks from the demolition of the building that was there. We got the pit completely opened up and it was a typical 4 foot across Philly round brickliner. The fill was mostly ash and some brick. Digging wasn't too bad. At about 5 feet deep we set up the tripod and started bucketing dirt. Allen was pulling buckets and Matt was filling them while me Doug and George were taking turns dumping buckets. We steadily progressed down with no signs of age. We switched off taking turns digging in the pit Until around 20 feet deep by this time I was getting worried that this pit would not have a trash layer. But only a couple feet deeper the ashy gave way to a rich loam laden with artifacts. The age wasn't that great starting with 1880s bottles and ironstone. But after several feet of this age we hit a heavy clay cap that was about 2 feet thick then 4 more feet of trash which had dropped back in age about 15 years and was mostly 1860s with a few broken pontils on the bottom. About this time a neighbor by the name of Gary walked over and talked to us. We were surprised because he knew what we were doing. It turns out Gary had been digging the privy in his yard by himself for the past couple years. He lived about half a block away. He had gotten down about 16 feet in his pit and had been carrying the buckets of dirt up a ladder by hand a few at a time until he ran out of ladder. We agreed to help him finish his pit. He helped us fill in ours. This pit bottomed at about 33 feet. It was the deepest pit I had dug in Philly to that date and we got some stuff but it wasn't a really loaded pit. We finally finished up filling in the pit around 8:00 and headed back to south Philly to split up the finds and head home.
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