The Associated Press
BOSTON–No. 1 if by land, No. 2 if by sea?
Archaeologists are excavating what they believe was the site of an outhouse next door to Paul Revere’s home and the “privy,” as the colonists politely called their potties, could be flush with artifacts.
Historians say people typically dumped trash and household goods in their outhouses.
Yesterday, the second full day of the dig, volunteers with the City of Boston Archaeological Program already were pulling fragments of pottery, bottles, and a tobacco pipe from the bricked yard of the Pierce-Hichborn House in the heart of Boston’s North End.
So far, there’s been no sign of mummified human excrement. That would be the telltale evidence of an outhouse at the home once owned by a cousin of Revere, Boston city archaeologist Joe Bagley told The Associated Press.
“Paul Revere might well have come over here for dinner and used the bathroom,” Bagley noted.
“He had 12 kids in his own little house next door,” he added. “It’s easy to imagine they didn’t stay cramped up in there all the time.”
Colonial-era outhouses tend to yield surprises, said Nina Zannieri, executive director of the Paul Revere Memorial Association that owns and operates the homes.
“They’ve excavated other privies and they were full of stuff,” she noted. “It’s always a treasure trove.
“For us, it’s an opportunity to get at a source of information that’s literally buried underground.”
Any fossilized unmentionables will be analyzed at one of several university archaeological forensics labs for seeds or the remains of parasites–clues that could tell scholars more about the colonists’ diet.
And bones left over from a 1700s supper could speak to the occupants’ financial health, Bagley said.
“We’ll learn what they were eating, how much money they had, whether they bought good or cheap cuts of meat,” he noted.