Four burials found under Verona Arena archways

June 15th, 2021

Skeletal remains of four individuals have been discovered underneath the arches of Verona’s iconic Roman arena. These are the first burials ever found inside the amphitheater’s archways.

The first was discovered in December during a comprehensive program of restoration and infrastructure improvements in the archways of the amphitheater. Archaeologists found traces of burning between the walls of Arch 31 and expected to unearth evidence the arch had been used a blacksmith’s forge as similar finds have been made in previous excavations. Instead, they unearthed an unprecedented burial. The remains were of an adult woman buried with her arms folded across her chest. Potsherds used to pave the floor in the 1st century A.D. had been moved to make room for the burial. The depth of the grave suggests it dates to late antiquity, between the 3rd and 6th centuries.

Earlier this month, archaeologists came across another surprise burial, this time of three individuals under Arch 10. The remains are of an adult man and two adolescents around 16 years of age. One of the youths is morphologically female, with shorter limbs and smaller bones. The sex of the other has yet to be determined. Coins found in a small purse attached to the man’s circular buckle have been identified as “Enrician” coins, coinage dedicated to the four Henrys who were crowned King of the Romans in the 11th century struck by the Verona mint in the 12th century. Radiocarbon analysis will confirm his dates and those of the two adolescents.

The bodies were found in a central pit. The young woman’s head was pointing south. The adult man’s was as well and the other youth was next to him head pointing north. If viable DNA can be extracted, it should be possible to determine if there was any familial relationship between the three that explains their burial in such close quarters.

In the wake of these discoveries, the restoration program will now also include archaeological investigations of all the internal archways to see if more of the small, narrow spaces were dedicated to funerary use. The burials will be included in the new museum itinerary dedicated to the arena’s 2000-year history which will open inside the amphitheater after the program of restoration is complete.

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Necropolis with rich Burgundian grave goods excavated

June 13th, 2021

Excavation of a necropolis in the ancient Roman town of Boutae, near Annecy is southeastern France, has yielded rich Germanic funerary furnishings. Radiocarbon dating and analysis of the artifacts dates the necropolis to between the second half of the 5th century and the second half of the 7th, indicating there was a stable population of Burgundians living in Boutae after the establishment of the First Kingdom of Burgundy in the Rhineland and Savoy in 443.

Boutae was founded in 27 B.C. as a vicus, a small satellite town of the main city of the Allobroges tribe. Located at the intersection of three major Roman roads and on the Alpis Graia, the route leading to the Petit Saint-Bernard alpine pass, Boutae prospered under the Roman Empire. It was razed and much of the population killed in the Germanic invasions of the mid-3rd century, but it was rebuilt in the 3rd century. The vicus was largely abandoned in the early 5th century in the wake of the Burgundian invasion, but some of pockets of the town were used until the end of the 7th century.

The presence of graves from late antiquity on the west side of the city has been known since the 19th century, but it wasn’t thoroughly excavated and documented until last year. INRAP archaeologists explored almost half an acre and unearthed 227 graves, a fraction of the total burials at the site. There are a variety of grave types including wooden coffins, hollowed out trunks, sandstone slabs. Thirty of the graves contained high quality furnishings, either worn by the deceased or placed in the pit. Their decorative style mark the grave goods as Burgundian.

Most of the objects are objects of adornment or grooming. There are a dozen decorated bone combs, glass beads on necklaces and  châtelaines, belt buckles, shoe buckles, a three-piece toiletry kit, a silver gilt fibula shaped like a bird of prey with a garnet eye and a matched set of fibulae in the shape of galloping horses. Only two weapons were found: an arrowhead and a scramasax with a fragment of its wooden scabbard still attached.

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Lead sheet inscribed in archaic Iberian found

June 12th, 2021

A unique lead sheet inscribed in archaic Iberian has been discovered at the site of Pico de los Ajos in Valencia, Spain. While other inscribed lead sheets are known, almost all of them were illegally excavated. This is one of only a handful discovered by archaeologists in a regulated excavation, and its context is of particular relevance here because the paleographic evidence indicates it is much older than the site.

The lead sheet was unearthed in the 2018 dig season at the ancient Iberian settlement of Pico de los Ajos. Pico de los Ajos was a fortified Iberian town inhabited since at least the 7th century B.C. through the Roman imperial era. Lead sheets inscribed in Iberian were first found there in 1979, and their publication the next year unfortunately spurred extensive looting of the site.

The lead sheet, dubbed PA-VII, was discovered in a structure with four distinct spaces on the south edge of the settlement. Ceramics, a coin, and a group of more than 20 bronze, iron and lead pieces were discovered in the rooms. The metal items — a nail, a blade from iron scissors, spatulas, fibulae, assorted fragments — were found in the second space. The lead sheet was among them.

It was folded into a quadrangular shape and covered in layers of carbonate deposits, but some inscriptions were visible to the naked eye. In order to read the full epigraph, researchers had to stabilize, clean and painstakingly unfold it without causing additional damage. Lead is soft and the sheet is less than one millimeter thick. Folded into a square and buried in the ground for thousands of years, the thin metal had deteriorated. It had microcracks, areas of loss, areas on the verge of fragmenting which made it dangerously brittle.

The team was able to clean the surface using fine, soft brushes under a magnifying glass. They then turned a warm air blower on to soften the lead just a little and unfolded the sheet with different wooden instruments. The calcium carbonate encrustation was removed by immersion in a cleansing solution and epoxy resin was used to reintegrate loss material.

Once clean, the full text was visible. Each side bore one-line Iberian inscriptions. Archaeologists believe the two inscriptions comprised a single text, read from side A to side B.

However, although it has been studied phonetically, the message contained in this sheet is not clear and, therefore, neither is the context in which it should be placed. “Iberian is a language that still cannot be translated, but in which experts progress little by little in the identification of words and this helps to interpret what type of texts they were”, explains David Quixal, professor of Archeology and one of the authors of the article. In fact, in this lead it has been possible to identify with enough certainty the name of a person, tořaibeleś , presumably the author of the text or whoever commissioned it.

The sheet has no full parallels among Iberian lead sheets. It features a unique combination of features including its diminutive size, the folding and the integral short text on both sides. The closest cognates are plates found in the votive well of El Amarejo, but they are only inscribed on one side. Even so, it seems likely this sheet had a votive purpose as well, as its text and morphology rule out that it is correspondence, commercial or a label.

The paleography of the inscription is also different from other inscribed leads found at the site because of its age. It is an archaic variant of Iberian from the 4th century B.C., while the inscriptions on previously discovered leads are typical of the more modern Iberian of the 2nd-1st centuries B.C.

The metal pieces that included the folded lead inscription discovered in the auxiliary building were all broken, bent of fragmentary. Archaeologists believe they were scrap collected and stored for later reuse, which is why the lead sheet is so much older than the ones found elsewhere on the site.

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Noceto Vasca Votiva dated to 15th c. B.C.

June 11th, 2021

The Noceto Vasca Votiva, a large wooden basin discovered in the Po Plain of northern Italy, has been absolutely dated to 1444 B.C. thanks to an innovative combination of tree ring and radiocarbon dating. Previously the date range could only narrowed down to 1600-1300 B.C., and the new precise date places the construction of this monumental pool at a moment of great societal change in Bronze Age northern Italy.

The structure was discovered in 2004 during construction work on a hill in the south side of Noceto. Digging in the side of the hill revealed a large stratified pit containing fragments of pottery and wooden posts. Subsequent excavations revealed an extraordinary structure that is unique on the archaeological record. It was located at the edge of a Terramare, a Late Bronze Age settlement of a type found in Po Plain. The remains of the settlement are almost completely gone, destroyed by quarrying in the 19th century.

It was built of oak poles, beams and planks and measures about 40 by 23 feet, larger than most home in-ground pools today. The wood-lined tank was also in-ground. The hillside was dug out to make a large pit into which the structure was inset. It was constructed in two phases. The first tank, known as the Lower Tank, collapsed either during construction or right after it. The remains consist of 36 vertical poles planted into the subsoil at regular intervals along a rectangular perimeter. Planks were locked into grooves on the poles to support the pit walls, and at the floor level posts and boards were anchored to posts in the center of the pit and to horizontal beams. Wood shavings and tools were found there indicating the walls, under pressure from the heavy clay soil, collapsed suddenly before it was finished.

The second tank, known as the Upper Tank, was built on top of it. Some of the Lower Tank’s wood was recycled into the Upper, but the design, shape and size were altered to correct the flaws that caused the first tanks demise. Much more of the Upper Tank survives, preserved for millennia in the anoxic environment created by layers of sediment, peat and rainwash. It consists of 26 vertical poles along the rectangular perimeter. The poles hold almost 250 horizontal beams that slightly overlap each to create a strong interlocking structure. Beams crisscross the base of the rectangle, first across its width, then across it length. They are reinforced by two long beams that cross the tank on the diagonal to act as supports for the four corner poles.

All of this took an enormous amount of work and determination to accomplish. Excavating the hillside, removing tons of soil, dragging the oak timbers to site and building the tank not once but twice underscores how important it was to the builders. Sediment analysis found that the once completed, the Upper Tank was filled with water.

Its location at the top of the hill was too inconvenient for a cistern. There are no channels as there would be if it was used for irrigation. Archaeologists unearthed a large quantity of depositions: about 150 whole vases, 25 miniature vessels, seven clay figurines, plus baskets, handles, spindles, shovels and wooden plow parts. They were not haphazardly strewn into the tank, but carefully lowered into it in at least three separate deposition events. This indicates the tank was used for ritual purposes.

The exact dates of the tanks was pinpointed by a team from Cornell University’s Tree-Ring Laboratory using 28 wood samples, nine from the Upper Tank, 19 from the Lower Tank.

Among the lab’s specialties is tree-ring sequenced radiocarbon “wiggle-matching,” in which ancient wooden objects are dated by matching the patterns of radiocarbon isotopes from their annual growth increments (i.e., tree rings) with patterns from datasets found elsewhere around the world. This enables ultra-precise dating even when a continuous tree-ring sequence for a particular species and geographic area is not yet available.

“Working at an archaeological site, you’re often trying to do dendrochronology with relatively few samples, sometimes in less than ideal condition, because they’ve been falling apart for the last 3,500 years before you get to see them. It’s not like a healthy tree that is growing out in the wild right now,” Manning said. “We often measure the samples a number of times to extract as much signal as we can.” […]

Manning’s team made multiple attempts with different samples. While the wood from the Noceto site was well-preserved – a rarity, given its age – there was an unexpected challenge when the samples did not seem to fit the international radiocarbon calibration curve that is used for matching tree-ring sequences. This suggested the curve needed revising for certain time periods, and in 2020 a new version was published. The Noceto data finally fit.

By combining radiocarbon dating calibrated via dendrochronologies from southern Germany, Ireland and North America, along with computer-intensive statistics, the Cornell team was able to establish a tree-ring record that spanned several hundred years. They pegged the construction of the lower and upper tanks at 1444 and 1432 B.C., respectively; and they determined the finished structure was in use for several decades before it was abandoned, for reasons that may never be known.

The new timeline is particularly significant because it synchs up with a period of enormous change in Italian prehistory.

“You’ve had one way of life in operation for hundreds of years, and then you seem to have a switch to fewer, larger settlements, more international trade, more specialization, such as textile manufacture, and a change in burial practices,” Manning said. “There is something of a pattern all around the world. Nearly every time there’s a major change in social organization, there tends often to be an episode of building what might be described as unnecessary monuments. So when you get the first states forming in Egypt, you get the pyramids. Stonehenge marks a major change in southern England. Noceto is not the scale of Stonehenge, but it has some similarities – an act of major place-making.”

The study has been published in the journal PLoS ONE and can be read in its entirety here.

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Viking kinsmen reunited in Denmark

June 10th, 2021

The skeletal remains of two close relatives who died 1,000 years ago  500 miles away from each other have been reunited in a new exhibition at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. The younger of the two was unearthed in 2008 on the Oxford University campus in a mass grave of Danes slaughtered by order of King Æthelred the Unready in 1002. The skeletal remains of his relative were discovered in the town of Otterup on the island of Funen.

The relationship was discovered last year in the course of a large DNA study of the remains of 442 people from the Bronze Age through the Middle Ages discovered in Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, England, Ireland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Poland, Italy, Russia and Ukraine. DNA extracted from teeth and femoral bones was compared with DNA from 3855 contemporary individuals and another 922 prehistoric individuals collected in previous studies.

DNA analysis found that the Oxford man and the Funen man were close relatives in the 2nd degree, meaning they were either half-brothers or nephew and uncle. Strontium isotope analysis of their teeth confirmed that they were both born and raised Otterup, but the younger man crossed the North Sea to end up slaughtered in Oxford. The older man died where he lived, on Funen, when he was around 50 years old.

Both of them lived hard lives with plenty of physical labor. They also ate the same type of diet, heavy on the land animal protein with some fish. The Funen man had severely worn teeth and arthritic lesions in almost all of his cervical and thoracic vertebrae, plus in several rib joints, one jaw joint and one big toe. Evidence of inflammation on his ribs suggest he may have had tuberculosis. Sharp-force trauma on his neck had healed, but a second injury on his pelvis had not. It may have been a death blow. Archaeologists hypothesize that he was a farmer for most of his life, but he did see combat on a few occasions.

The Oxford man was powerfully built, but he suffered inflammation on his legs likely caused by chronic sores or repeated blows to the legs. The sharp-force trauma on his body was massive. There were at least nine blows to head by a sword, multiple arrow wounds and spear wounds to his back. The brutality of his death is very much in keeping with descriptions of the St. Brice’s Day Massacre in chronicles and contemporary documents.

The Oxfordshire County Council’s Museum Resource Centre has now loaned the bones of the Oxford Dane to the National Museum where they will remain for three years. The exhibition, which brings together Denmark’s largest group of Viking Age treasures with a multimedia cinematic experience to give visitors an immersive insight into the Viking era, opens on June 26th.

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18th c. wooden road found in Poland

June 9th, 2021

Archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved stretch of a late 17th or early 18th century wooden road in Jarosław, southeastern Poland. At 100 feet long, it is one of the longest wooden roads ever discovered in what is now Poland.

The remains were discovered in February during an archaeological exploration of the site of planned sewer work in the historic center of the city. The road led to a gate in the city walls opening west towards Kraków. It was part of a 250-mile route connecting Bielsko Biała to Lviv in modern-day Ukraine. It was a dirt road, except for the section inside Jarosław.

The road was 10 feet wide, so must have been one-way traffic only because that was not enough space for two lanes. It was made of timbers mounted on transverse wooden joists. The wood was probably oak and it was very sturdy. There are no hoof marks or wheel ruts even though it must have been a busy street as Jarosław held one of the largest market fairs in Europe and was a major hub of trade in the region. It was in active use for about 100 years before paved roads were built over it.

Some of the road has been removed to the Jarosław Museum for conservation and study. Objects found during the removal of the timbers — coins, show leather, nails — will go on display in the museum. The section still in place will be displayed in situ in the coming months.

The road was laser scanned before removal so a detailed animated model could be made accurate to the millimeter. 

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Rijksmuseum acquires unique 17th c. Persian miniature

June 8th, 2021

The Rijksmuseum has acquired a unique Persian miniature with a Dutch inscription that dates to the early 17th century. The Dutch handwriting on the back marks the miniature as the earliest known example of Persian art in the Netherlands.

The miniature is 6.9 by 4.6 inches and features a central panel of a stylishly attired young man standing near a tree. A mendicant dervish sits on the ground looking up at him. A frame is drawn in around it and on the other side of the frame is a wide border of gold flowers, plants and birds. Across the top a herd of deer leap away from a hunting tiger.

The drawing was made by a still anonymous artist in Isfahan. On the back of the leaf are two Iranian cancels with the dates 1620/21 and 1630/1. The miniature therefore dates from the time of Shah Abbas the Great (1586-1628). This period is considered the pinnacle of Safawadic art.

These were the earliest days of Dutch engagement with Iran. Abbas had been the first Safavid Shah to make contact with European powers seeking allies against the Ottoman Empire. The first treaty between the Dutch East India Company and Iran, a deal to trade silk, was signed in 1623.

On the back is an inked inscription that reads “kalawat en sijne mat,” but its precise meaning is unknown. It does appear in Indonesian literature as the world for prince, and “mat” was an abbreviation for “majesty.” Rijksmuseum researchers believe the inscription is a curatorial note, evidence that the miniature was part of a Dutch collection shortly after it was made.

Only four other Iranian miniatures with an old Dutch inscription are known. Two of these are also in the collection of the Rijksmuseum. But all four are probably from around 1700 and of a much lesser quality. They may even be specially made for foreign travelers as a souvenir. The miniature that the Rijksmuseum has now acquired is not only of a much higher quality, but also almost a century older.

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First burial of fettered man found in Britain

June 7th, 2021

In an archaeological first, the skeletal remains of a man who was buried with his ankles shackled and padlocked together have been discovered in Great Casterton, eastern England. Radiocarbon analysis dates the bones to 226 to 427 A.D. Roman types of shackles — neck-shackles, manacles and fetters — have been found before in Britain, but this is the first time they’ve been discovered in a burial context still attached to the last person locked into them.

The body was discovered in 2015 by builders digging a foundation for a new conservatory. They stopped when the bones were exposed and archaeologists took over, excavating the skeletal remains and revealed the ankle fetters. The skeleton was on its right side, left arm flexed and elevated, right arm by the hip. The position suggests the body was casually thrown into the grave, not placed. The grave was not purpose-dug, but rather a pre-existing ditch as evidenced by the nature of the fill.

Osteological analysis found the deceased was a male between 26 and 35 years old when he died. Lesions with new bone formation were found on his tibiae, evidence of an unclassified trauma, and a bony spur on the femur attests to an injury caused either one traumatic event or repetitive physical activity. The skull and cervical vertebrae were missing, destroyed by modern utility works.

Ancient shackles have been widely interpreted as the material remains of Roman slavery, but the existence of shackles says nothing about the status of the people made to wear them. They could have been free-born prisoners awaiting trial, for example, and we know they were certainly worn by convicts on chain gangs. Most of the Roman shackles found in Britain were in rural locations, however, which suggests they were worn by people who worked the rural agricultural estates and mines, whether enslaved, condemned or subject to abusive discipline (ie, made to wear shackles as humiliating and painful punishment).

The iron fetters and padlock are heavily corroded, but X-rays revealed they are of the Sombernon type found in Gaul and Britain. Two penannular loops slide onto a crossbar on a pivoting iron ring. The bar curves around to a padlock. Both bar and padlock have an aperture through which a bolt is inserted to lock the shackles with an L-shaped key. When locked, both ankle hoops were fastened to each other via the bar. In this example, the fetters were reinforced with additional iron strips and bolt is still in its locked position.

These types of fetters would have allowed some limited foot movement, enough to take tiny slow steps less than half the length of a natural stride. Doing agricultural labor with such restricted foot mobility would be challenging, to say the least. We know from literary sources that miners were chained with fetters that left their upper bodies free.

The Great Casterton burial is perhaps the best candidate for the remains of a slave in Roman Britain. By providing evidence for the use of shackles, the burial illustrates some of the potential consequences of slavery and re-emphasises our obligation to engage with this topic at a level beyond the scarce epigraphic sources available for the province. However, it does not resolve the larger problem of identifying the enslaved of Roman Britain. The man’s precise legal status remains a moot point, as others punished and coerced into labour, such as convicts and coloni, could also be chained in the manner of slaves. Some of the burials in iron restraints may well have been executed convicts but, unfortunately, due to truncation, it is unclear whether the fettered individual from Great Casterton had been decapitated like some of the iron-ring burials from York and London and several other burials in the nearby cemetery. While we might wish to use this burial to define criteria that would allow us to identify other people who had been shackled, this does not seem to be possible. The bioarchaeological evidence provides some suggestion of stress and physical activity, and there is lower leg pathology that could have been caused by the fetters. Similarly, the bony spur present on the left thigh bone could be a result of intentional blows to the leg. However, none of this evidence is strictly diagnostic, and in isolation from the fetters it would certainly be insufficient to identify the individual as being a slave. Even here the evidence for slave status cannot be considered conclusive, and, short of epigraphic evidence, determining the precise lived experiences and/or legal status of the individual is impossible.

The study has been published in the journal Britannia and can be read here.

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First prehistoric animal carvings in Scotland found in cairn

June 5th, 2021

Rock art discovered inside Dunchraigaig Cairn in Kilmartin Glen, Argyll, are the first prehistoric animal carvings ever found in Scotland, and the earliest clearly identifiable carvings of deer ever found in the UK. Archaeologists estimate that they are between 4,000 and 5,000 years old, carved in the Neolithic or the Early Bronze Age.

The rock art was discovered by amateur archaeologist Hamish Fenton. He was walking by Dunchraigaig Cairn and took a peek inside the third cist (one of three stone burial chambers in the cairn) with his flashlight. He noticed for the first time that there were carvings on the underside of the roof slab, and recognized one of them as a deer.

Fenton reported his find and experts from Scotland’s Rock Art Project and Historic Environment Scotland examined the carvings, using light scans and digital technology to create detailed 3D models of the cairn. They confirming the authenticity of the carvings.

They depict two male red deer, recognizable from their large antlers and the short tail on one of the two. There are three other quadrupeds in the panel. There are no tell-tale antlers, but archaeologists believe two of the group of three may be juvenile deer.

Kilmartin Glen has one of the most important concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in mainland Scotland, including some of the finest cup and ring markings in the country. This is the first time that animal carvings of this date have been discovered in an area with cup and ring markings in the UK.

There are over 3,000 prehistoric carved rocks in Scotland. The vast majority are cup and ring markings which are abstract motifs created by striking the rock surface with a stone tool, such as a large river-washed pebble. Most commonly, cup and ring markings are composed of a central cup mark surrounded by pecked concentric circles. While many of these mysterious carvings can still be seen in the open landscape today, we know little about how they were used, or what purpose they served.

Dr Tertia Barnett, Principal Investigator for Scotland’s Rock Art Project at HES, said: “It was previously thought that prehistoric animal carvings of this date didn’t exist in Scotland, although they are known in parts of Europe, so it is very exciting that they have now been discovered here for the first time in the historic Kilmartin Glen.”

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Message in a bottle found in Michigan Central Station wall

June 4th, 2021

Work crews restoring Michigan Central Station in Detroit have discovered a message in a beer bottle left there in 1913 when the station was being built. The bottle of Stroh’s Bohemian Beer, much of its label intact, contained a rolled up piece of paper stuffed into its neck. The message reads:

“Dan Hogan and Geo Smith stuck this.

(Unreadable word) of Chicago

July 1913.”

The historic Beaux Arts building, the tallest train station in the world at the time of its completion, opened ahead of schedule right after a fire devastated Michigan Central Station on December 26th. It was located in the Corktown district south of downtown and relied on passengers taking mass-transit options like streetcars and interurban railways. There was no parking to speak of, and after World War II as people rapidly adopted automobile travel, the station’s usage plummeted. Most train services stopped running through the station in the 60s and the last Amtrak limped out of the station in 1988.

Various plans have been made since then to repurpose it and restore it, but none of them ever came to fruition and the building’s decline has been unrelenting. Finally in 2018 Ford Motor Company bought the station  and it has been undergoing a massive restoration which will continue through the end of 2022 when it will be the jewel in the crown of Michigan Central, a mixed used campus of shops, restaurants and Ford research facilities.

So far construction crews have discovered 200 items from women’s shoes to original elevator call button parts. More than 400 people are currently employed in the restoration, which is focused on the once-glamorous ground floor including the grand waiting room which has 65 foot-high tile vaulted ceilings. The space is filled ground to ceiling with scaffolding so workers can do the necessary repairs to the masonry and plaster moldings high on the walls and ceiling. That’s where the message in a bottle was found.

The bottled, stamped with the date 7-19-13 – the station opened in 1913 – was discovered at around 6 p.m. on May 4 by Lukas Nielsen and Leo Kimble, laborer and foreman, respectively, for Homrich, a plaster restoration contractor working in the station’s tea room. The men were praised for resisting the urge to open the bottle themselves.

“It was extremely tempting, it really was,” said Nielsen. “If we did anything to remove it, we would have destroyed it.”

Nielsen and Kimble were on a scissor lift to reach a high section of plaster cornice that would be removed from the wall when Nielsen noticed something behind the cornice – a glass bottle stuffed upside-down and situated behind the wall’s crown molding. Kimble was about to strike the wall when Nielsen stopped him. They stopped working and removed the bottle instead.

The men were filled with excitement as they returned to the floor at 6:45 p.m., taking the bottle straight to David Kampo, project superintendent for Christman-Brinker, the construction team leading the restoration project. Later that night, they also found a Finck’s overalls button believed to have fallen off a worker during the original construction. It too was found inside the wall. In the early 1900s, when the station was built, Finck’s “Detroit Special” overalls were synonymous with quality denim garments for laborers.

“I think the bottle was left there with the hope that someone finds it in the future,” said Kampo.

The bottle, its message and the other artifacts recovered during the restoration will be conserved and stored in the Ford archives in Dearborn. Eventually they will be integrated into the larger Ford collection.

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