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Digging Up History

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FOSTER TOWNSHIP -- History buried in Luzerne County is being dug up.

Archaeology students are finding trinkets and treasures hidden underground at Eckley Miners' Village. They hope to tell a more complete story of the people who used to live there.

Digging up artifacts and telling the area's coal mining history. That's what a team of archaeologists is doing to the soil near Freeland in a part of Eckley Miners' Village that hasn't been touched in 150 years.

"We don't know a lot about them. There isn't a lot in the historical record, but by doing archaeology work, we can take a look at their material culture, and make some inferences about how they lived their lives," said Eckley administrator Bode Morin.

To do just that, anthropology professor Dr.Paul Shackel from the University of Maryland teamed up with several students from across the country to get dirty and dig.

"This is an unbelievably rich resource for coal heritage," Shackel said.

When the team finds artifacts it gives them a glimpse of the lives of the people who used to live there.

"We've also been finding everyday stuff like ceramics, nails that would have been used to build houses."

Camille Westmont studies at the University of Maryland and is working on her dissertation. She says items such as a marble or the arm of a small doll tell a lot about the families who lived here.

"It's not that they were sending all their children to work, it's that they wanted their kids to have a good childhood," Westmont said.

The team of students will dig for the next month. They plan to show off what they've uncovered during the Eckley Miners' Village Patch Town Days June 27.