Archaeologists surveying the site of the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia uncovered a surprising find: several ancient privies, or vault toilets, that had about 82,000 different artifacts tossed into them over three centuries. Here, two of the privies being uncovered.
The historic site, which is just a short walk away from Independence Hall, has artifacts from the earliest settlements in Philadelphia. Here, excavations continue at the site.
Excavating historic site
During the early period of American history, there was no public garbage collection. So people tossed their refuse down the toilet.
Success to the Tryphena
One of the most stunning finds was a punchbowl with an image of a sailing ship and the words "Success to the Tryphena" emblazoned on it. The Tryphena was a merchant vessel that sailed from the colonies to Liverpool, and during the pre-revolutionary period, carried a protest petition from American merchants hoping to repeal the Stamp Act.
Etched in glass
Another stunning find was a secret message etched in glass.
The historic site was once home to an illegal back-alley tavern. Myriad cups and broken glassware were tossed into the loo, and reveal the handiwork of local Philadelphia potters.
Here, wig curlers, fan parts and beads were from the loo of either a wealthy 18th-century tanner named Samuel Garriges or John Smith.
Shells into buttons
The privy at Samuel Garriges house also contained marbles and shells. Garriges had 10 children, which perhaps could explain the marbles.
Here, lead weights which were tossed down the toilet at the household of Samuel Garriges.
Here, seals uncovered from the excavation at the site.
Sifting through the treasure
An archaeologist sifts through the treasures uncovered at the historic Philadelphia excavation site.