Unearthing history on Middletown’s Vine Street

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – Whoever thinks being an academic isn’t a dirty job hasn’t been to Vine Street in Middletown, where a mix of students, anthropologists, and historians are digging deep into New England’s history.

“If you threw away a ball point pen you don’t really expect an archaeologist to come and dig it up and be fascinated by it,” said student Kendall Richards. “Yet that’s pretty much what we’re doing.”The site being excavated is where a number of homes once stood in the 19th century that were occupied by free African-Americans in an era of slavery. Historians tell us it was a neighborhood that was one of the first of its kind in the United States.

So far a wide range of items have been uncovered under the soil, including glass, iron buckets and even parts of old shoes. Those working on the dig, however, say they are still not sure what type of structures they are uncovering which house most of the relics. “It could be any number of things,” said student, Chris Douyard. “Really you just hope to kind of get through it as best you can in the summer and those are the kinds of questions you’re really going to start to answer in the lab when you start working through the artifacts.”

Those involved in the dig are from several different institutions all over the region, including the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, The Middlesex County Historical Society, and Wesleyan University.

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