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Scientists search for relics of Mobile’s past at work site

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Demolition work near a south Alabama jail is giving archaeologists an opportunity to learn more about Mobile’s past.’s Lawrence Speckler reports that the work near the Mobile County Metro Jail is being done in preparation for a proposed Interstate 10 bridge, and archaeologists want to learn more about what’s at the site, reported .

It includes a cluster of nine buildings, most of which appear to have been bail bond offices.

A key goal is to dig in and find traces of the homes believed to have been in the area two centuries ago.

The researchers hope to learn about life in Mobile during the early 1800s, University of South Alabama Archaeologist Emily Warner said.

Relics uncovered during the demolition work might show “what was important to them, what they like to eat” and other aspects of their lives, she said.

In those days, the area probably would have been marshier and lower, sloping down to the river’s edge.

In later eras, the land was filled in to make way for industrial waterfront development. That means those 19th-century sites are buried under — and to some extent preserved by — a layer of fill material, reported.

A good discovery might be a household refuse pit, for instance, containing worn-out tools and broken household items.

“The most interesting stuff for us to find is Native American pottery,” Warner said. That would show interaction between the native population and newcomers of European descent.

Artifacts might also show trade and other interaction between French, British and Spanish factions.

In the future, the lots recently occupied by bail bond services and other businesses will be taken up by pilings and columns supporting the sweep of the planned interstate bridge as it rises from an on-ramp at Virginia Street toward an apex more than 200 feet above the Mobile River.

Some of the artifacts uncovered may eventually be displayed at the Archaeology Museum on the University of South Alabama campus in west Mobile, Warner said.

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