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21 January 2011
2,500-year-old remains found in New Jersey

A $1.1 million archeological dig that has been under way for months as part of the proposed Scudder Falls Bridge replacement project near Ewing (New Jersey, USA) has turned up evidence that Native Americans lived at the site as long ago as 500 BCE.
"The most intriguing evidence are the physical remains of a large number of hearths," said John Lawrence, a senior archeologist with AECOM, the firm hired by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, which is paying for the dig. "They are the remains of where the Native Americans would have been cooking food for storage and for daily meals," Lawrence said of the hearths.
     AECOM is conducting the dig with the New Jersey and Pennsylvania historic preservation offices to determine if any artifacts might be affected by the proposed bridge project, said Joe Donnelly, a spokesman for the commission. The dig started at the beginning of October, with 10 people in the field and two in the laboratory working 40-hour weeks in all kinds of weather. Lawrence said archeologists should be done digging in Ewing this week. A new dig on River Road in Yardley is projected to take three to four months, once it begins, which could happen within a month, Lawrence said.
     In Ewing two weeks ago, the archeological team found the charred remains of nut shells that might be evidence of the Native Americans' diet. Other artifacts found so far include little chips of stone that the Native Americans might have used to create a tool, such as an arrowhead. About 10 percent of the artifacts are tools, including projectile points, pottery, markers used for drawings, kemp materials and hammer stones, Lawrence said.
     The artifacts are taken from the site to an off-site lab where they are cleaned, processed and cataloged. Some objects, such as ceramics that may contain plant or animal residue, are sent to a specialized lab for analysis, Lawrence said. When the project is done, the artifacts will be taken to the New Jersey State Museum, where researchers and others who are interested can look at them and analyze them.

Edited from nj.com (18 January 2011)

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