Archaeological Study Planned for Boston Common This Week

Contrary to its predecessor, this big dig should finish right on time.

The Boston Common has had a busy year. The upstanding folks of the dearly departed bid to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Massachusetts initially proposed beach volleyball in the oldest park in the United States, only to be met with heaps of deserved criticism. The Outside the Box Festival returned to the Common, complete with a “river of puppets” streaming down Beacon Hill. The Common also hosted the first-ever public exposition of bubble soccer in Boston (which we proudly participated in). A few months later, former city councilor Mike Ross proposed turning the Common into a beer garden in the opinion pages of the Globe.

Now, the city wants to dig a bit deeper.

The archaeological program within City Hall’s Environment, Energy, and Open Space Cabinet will oversee an archaeological survey on the Boston Common on Tuesday and Wednesday. The dig, conducted by Pawtucket-based Public Archaeology Laboratory, is part of a proposed Eversource utility project.

“The utility project is close in proximity to a small portion of the previously identified archaeological sites, which accelerated the request for archaeological documentation and data collection within the area,” the city said in a press release.

“This is an amazing opportunity for Boston history fans,” said City Archaeologist Joe Bagley, who requested the archaeological survey. “We not only have the chance to find new information about Boston’s native past and the lives of Boston’s native people, but this is also where one of the best preserved Revolutionary War sites in Boston exists.”

Past digs in the Common in the 1980s turned up a Revolutionary War-era British troop encampment dating between 1768 and 1776, two Native American habitation areas, and a 1706 powder house located near the Soldiers and Sailors monument.

Coincidentally, October is Archaeology Month in Massachusetts.

“I had no idea when we were planning for the month’s celebrations that we’d have an active dig taking place on the Common at the same time,” said Bagley, who will be present at the site to meet visitors and answer questions. “It is an excellent coincidence, and I’m excited that we will be having Native and Revolutionary history actively being revealed during Archaeology Month.”