Buried Beneath the City: An Archaeological History of New York
By Nan A. Rothschild, Amanda Sutphin, H. Arthur Bankoff, and Jessica Striebel MacLean
Bits and pieces of the lives led long before the age of skyscrapers are scattered throughout New York City, found in backyards, construction sites, street beds, and parks. Indigenous tools used thousands of years ago; wine jugs from a seventeenth-century tavern; a teapot from Seneca Village, the nineteenth-century Black settlement displaced by Central Park; raspberry seeds sown in backyard Brooklyn gardens—these everyday objects are windows into the city’s forgotten history.
Buried Beneath the City uses urban archaeology to retell the history of New York, from the deeper layers of the past to the topsoil of recent events. The book explores the ever-evolving city and the day-to-day world of its residents through artifacts, from the first traces of Indigenous societies more than ten thousand years ago to the detritus of Dutch and English colonization and through to the burgeoning city’s transformation into the modern metropolis. It demonstrates how the archaeological record often goes beyond written history by preserving mundane things—details of everyday life that are beneath the notice of the documentary record. These artifacts reveal the density, diversity, and creativity of a city perpetually tearing up its foundations to rebuild itself. Lavishly illustrated with images of objects excavated in the city, Buried Beneath the City is at once an archaeological history of New York City and an introduction to urban archaeology.