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Nineteenth-Century Artifacts Recovered in Canada

Monday, June 17, 2019

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR, CANADA—Archaeological investigation ahead of water and sewer maintenance work in the city of St. John’s has revealed a collection of 79 human teeth and other artifacts dating back to the nineteenth century, according to a report in The Chronicle Herald. The teeth were recovered from a wooden drain in the sewer system. “There was no dentist as such in St. John’s until fairly late in the nineteenth century,” said archaeologist Blair Temple of Gerald Penney Associates. He thinks the teeth were probably pulled by a barber or pharmacist who washed them down a drain. The teeth then got caught in a drain that had been choked up with silt, he explained. A dentist confirmed most of the teeth had bad cavities and tobacco stains, and had been pulled from different people. The other items recovered during the excavation include an intact glass bottle, the copper finial from the end of an umbrella, pipe fragments, pieces of dinnerware, and a burned copper egg cup fused to pieces of mortar and glass. Temple said the egg cup had probably been in a structure that burned during one of the city’s great fires, perhaps in 1846. To read in-depth about the archaeology of nineteenth-century settlements, go to "America's Chinatowns."

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