Dig at Malcolm X House Reveals Surprise Find

Evidence suggests 18th-century home was built nearby
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 20, 2016 10:17 AM CDT
Dig at Malcolm X House Reveals Surprise Find
A fragment of a ceramic dish belonging to Malcolm X's sister.   (Instagram)

A "now-or-never dig" at the childhood home of Malcolm X has revealed a surprising find—just not related to the civil rights activist, writes the AP. "We've come onto a whole layer, roughly two feet down and across the whole site, that's absolutely filled with stuff” from the 1700s, archaeologist Joseph Bagley says. "So we have this whole new research question, which is: what the heck was going on here in the 18th century?" Archaeologists had initially suspected that a Native American settlement might be hiding beneath the abandoned home in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood, still owned by Malcolm X's nephew, per NBC News. They now say kitchenware, ceramics, and other finds suggest another home was built on or near the site—a surprise given that the current house was said to have been built on farmland in 1874.

"This happens a lot in city digs. You look for one thing and you probably find it, but then you also come across a couple of other questions that you have to figure out," Bagley says. "It's just part of the process." Other items uncovered likely do relate to Malcolm X, though. Bagley says archaeologists dug up broken dishes, pieces of jewelry, and toys that they suspect were thrown into the yard when the home was vandalized in the 1970s. Malcolm X's nephew says one ceramic fragment came from a dish he remembers his mother and Malcolm X's sister used to serve peach cobbler to guests. Archaeologists also discovered a small stone fragment that might have been used by Native Americans, though the piece has not been dated. The dig was recently halted by weather but is expected to recommence on May 16. (More discoveries stories.)

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