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Urban archaeologists uncover history beneath streets
Urban archaeologist Alyssa Loorya found old smoking pipes, ceramic plates and glass bottles during a dig in New York.
April 3rd, 2012
09:04 AM ET

Urban archaeologists uncover history beneath streets

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

(CNN) - The streets of lower Manhattan are traveled by hundreds of thousands of people each day. Beneath the sidewalks they walk on, a treasure trove of buried historic artifacts waits to be discovered.

As construction crews tear into the streets on the southern tip of the island of Manhattan, Alyssa Loorya is often by their side. The urban archaeologist with Chrysalis Archaeology is looking for items that were once considered garbage. The city often has to hire archaeologists to work alongside construction crews when they open the streets in lower Manhattan. The National Historic Preservation Act requires cities and states to conduct an archaeological survey at a work site when there is a strong possibility of finding historical artifacts.

“We’re actually finding things anywhere in a range between 3 and 11 feet below surface,” Loorya said while at a construction site on Fulton Street, one of the oldest streets in New York. “We tend to see pockets and areas that are completely undisturbed, little segments of the 19th, 18th century that have remained intact.”

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