MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Many drivers on both sides of the bay are eager for the Mobile River Bridge to be built, but before construction can begin a lot of important archaeological work has to take place. University of South Alabama’s Department of Archaeological Studies is excavating the earth underneath where the pilings will be built.
There are fifteen sites in Mobile and Baldwin Counties that are being excavated. WKRG visited a site that is underneath I-10, right at RV City. It’s about the size of a basketball court. Archaeologists are digging about three feet deep. They have found artifacts that date back thousands of years, such as fossils, and also found items from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
“Because of federal involvement in the construction of the new I-10 Mobile River Bridge, the National Historic Preservation Act applies,” said Dr. Phil Carr, Director of the Center for Archaeological Studies. “It requires the protection of significant cultural resources, such as historic buildings and archaeological sites.”
“What we are able to do is get an understanding of our past to better understand how we got to the present and look to the future,” Carr said.
The USA team digs up items, then cleans them. They are then sent to a lab to analyze and date them.
“It’s amazing the things we are finding in little Mobile,” archaeologist Sarah Coffey said. Coffey said they have found plates from the colonial period, civil war buttons, three-cent pieces. They even found a Mardi Gras pendant from the 1800s.
“When you are walking down the street, you don’t think about what is below, but in some cases, we are pulling up parking lots, and it’s those layers of time dating back to 3000 years ago,” archaeologist Rachel Hines said.
The team will continue to dig at different sites for several more months but will take two years to put together a full catalog of the items.
The team has not found anything that would delay the construction of the new bridge. Construction is slated tentatively begin at the end of next year.
USA Archaeological Team is keeping the public informed about the items they are finding. If you are interested in their historic findings, here is a link to their Facebook page. Here is a link to their Instagram page.