Philadlephia Archaeology

A Sense of Pride and Identity

By Alexander Lukens
Archaeological Technician
URS Corporation, Burlington, New Jersey, USA

Beginning each day with archaeology in mind stirs great excitement.  Working primarily as an archaeological lab tech and sometimes field tech for URS Corporation in Burlington, New Jersey (USA), I am quickly picking up on the fundamentals of life as an archaeologist in the Philadelphia area.  My daily duties can include a wide range of activities from the initial excavation of sites in the field through processing and studying what we find. The lab is where you could say it all comes together, some days more literally than others.  Today, for instance, I am responsible for mending artifacts from a project undertaken for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Interstate 95 highway redevelopment.  This exciting local project includes sites dating all the way to prehistoric times but todays work is focused on exploring the household sites of the industrial revolution. Sorting and mending these artifacts provides a glimpse into the variety of objects an average household may contain and can also tell us about the lives of the specific family whose property we are studying. Not only does this practice illustrate presence, it also delves deeper into a further understanding of the object and its sometimes bizarre form and function. Although the purposes of the objects are not always evident, it is still exciting to see where the research can take you. Contributing daily to the disclosure of Philadelphia’s forgotten knowledge in an archaeological way gives me a sense of pride and identity. Having grown up in the Philadelphia area, being able to experience the local history in a hands-on way contributes to shaping me both as an individual and as a professional in the archaeological community.