Independence Archeology Laboratory
Digging deep into Philadelphia history
Interested in archeology? Get the real dirt on Philadelphia's hidden past at the Independence Archeology Laboratory. The laboratory is a working facility dedicated to processing materials recovered from archeological excavations conducted between 2000 and 2003 prior to, and during, construction of the National Constitution Center.
Approximately one million artifacts have been recovered from this archeological excavation. Together, they piece together the diverse stories of everyday Philadelphians during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and offer glimpses of the prehistoric past as well.
Imagine a busy neighborhood of free African-Americans, Quaker merchants, recent immigrants, and many others living out their ordinary, and many times extraordinary, lives during Philadelphia's formative years. The National Constitution Center archeological site offers a glimpse of "we the people" living in this bustling neighborhood just blocks from Independence Hall during the Revolutionary Era and the early days of the new nation.
The laboratory is open to the public and offers visitors a behind-the-scenes view of archeologists at work. You are invited to watch as Philadelphia's buried history is revealed piece by piece. During your visit the research team may be working with everything from tiny seeds and animal bones, to glass bottles and ceramic fragments. As you watch the work, you will learn how archaeologists use these objects to better understand the lives of long forgotten Philadelphians.
The Archeology Laboratory operates in partnership with the National Constitution Center and is open by appointment on weekdays only. The lab is closed on weekends.
Did You Know?
The Continental Navy Jack, designed for Commodore Esek Hopkins during the American Revolution, is still in use today. The Secretary of the Navy reauthorized its use on all Navy ships in 2002. The flag is 13 alternating red and white stripes with “Don’t Tread On Me” snake.