Archaeologists dig hilltop over Plymouth Rock one last time

Archaeologists dig hilltop over Plymouth Rock one last time


BOSTON (AP) — Archaeologists are giving a grassy hilltop overlooking iconic Plymouth Rock one last look before a historical park is built to commemorate the Pilgrims and the Indigenous people who once called it home.

Braving sweltering heat, a team of about 20 graduate students enrolled in a masters program at the University of Massachusetts-Boston began excavating an undeveloped lot on Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts, this week.

The National Historic Landmark site — which contains the first cemetery used by the Pilgrims after they arrived from England in 1620 and was a Wampanoag village for thousands of years before that — has been poked and prodded numerous times over the past century.

But now, as historical organizations reboot pandemic-stalled plans to construct a permanent memorial they're calling Remembrance Park, this could be the last chance to mine the soil for Native and colonial artifacts.

“Cole’s Hill is among the most sacred land we’ve got," said Donna Curtin, executive director of the Pilgrim Society & Pilgrim Hall Museum, which owns the tract. “We want to make it more than just a grassy, empty lot. We want to engage people. And the archaeology is deeply wedded to the site."

David Landon of UMass-Boston’s Fiske Center for Archaeological Research, who's leading the effort, said he's confident his team will recover items of interest from the site.

“You don’t always get the opportunity to do work at sites that are so significant,” he said. “We know we’re going to find stuff — there’s no question about that. Anytime you start digging in Plymouth, you find interesting stuff."

Less than 48 hours into the excavation, which is scheduled to run through July 1, the team recovered what Landon calls “the debris of daily life": a few Wampanoag artifacts,...

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