The Church of the Advent, like much of Back Bay and the "flat" of Beacon Hill, stands on land formed by leveling hills in and around Boston in the 19th century. Those loads of earth brought with them whatever debris long-gone citizens had tossed into them over the generations. Shells, crockery, even animal bones - all these and who knows what else are interred in the foundations of homes and shops throughout our historic old city. (See the Museum of Science website on archeology of the Big Dig.)
In late 2003, workmen arrived to dig test pits in the Advent's undercroft. (These pits help us check the water level around the pilings that hold up the building. The pilings are made of wood and must be kept permanently moist.) In the course of their excavations they found a wonderful collection of artifacts from life in Boston 150 years ago or more.
Test pit in undercroft. Some of the wooden pilings that support
the church building are visible at the upper left side of the pit.
(Photograph by Vance Hosford)
Artifacts found during the excavation of the test pits.
This earthenware bottle once held beer. People would bring bottles like
this to the local tavern, where the publican would fill it with beer or ale
and give it back to them to take home: the original "package store"!