Demolition Unveils Weird & Wonderful Historical Objects

demolition mummyDo you know what’s buried under your feet? It could be a piece of history. Most Portland demolition and construction projects require the moving of earth in one form or another. Sometimes, workers stumble upon priceless treasures or strange artifacts that were left behind or forgotten. Check out some of historical objects uncovered by demolition and construction workers that will make you wonder what’s beneath your Oregon demolition project’s site.

Uncovering History on Demolition Sites

Dynastic Mummy

Demolition companies sometimes uncover artifacts from long-gone eras. Thanks to a rich history that dates back thousands of years, it’s not uncommon for crews in China to encounter relics that are hundreds of years old.

As road workers in Taizhou, Jiangsu Province, China, worked on a road widening project, they found a large mysterious box about six feet below the surface. Upon opening it, they discovered it was a tomb… and it was occupied.

The preserved remains belonged to a woman, whose body is estimated to be more than 700 years old. The body was adorned with jewelry and a silk robe.

Archaeologists believe the woman was a high-ranking member of the Ming Dynasty based on her clothing and manner in which she was preserved. Ceramics, ancient writings, bones and other relics accompanied the body.

Medieval Hospital

When the bubonic plague swept throughout Europe, hospitals became overwhelmed with the number of victims it affected. When there were no physicians left to treat the sick, many hospitals were shut down and abandoned. In 2013, during the construction of an Apple store, crews discovered a 15th-century hospital that was demolished and sealed beneath the paving stones of a public square in 1854.

The discovery wasn’t a complete surprise. Four years prior to finding the hospital, workers at a nearby site found the ruins of the adjoining church.

Church Time Capsule

When demolition crews started tearing down an old community church in Berkeley, CA, before the construction of apartments, they discovered a copper box inside one of the walls as they worked to preserve the building’s granite cornerstone. The 10-by-8-by-8-inch box was soldered shut, making it air- and water-tight, and appeared untouched.

After carefully opening the copper box, the church’s former property owner discovered it was a time capsule. Church members speculate it was created and hidden by the church’s founding members in 1948. Inside the box was a carefully wrapped Bible dated 1875, newspaper articles from 1948 about the property’s groundbreaking, published sermons, an architectural flier about the buildings, and records, such as a roster and a document about the church’s history. The box also contained anti-liquor fliers the founding pastor wrote.

Revolution-Era Warehouse and Warship

WarshipWhen crews in Alexandria, VA, prepared a site for a new waterfront hotel, they found the fully intact foundation of a warehouse from 1755. Historians believe it was the city’s first public building. The 100-by-24-square-foot structure contained large wooden beams and wood flooring believed to be a repurposed ship mast.

A couple months later, the same crews discovered a 50-foot warship or cargo ship archaeologists believe was used around the time of the revolutionary war. Also found on the site: a three-seat privy from the same era.

Mammoth Tusk

Portland demolition contractors were excited when their Seattle, WA, counterparts made a big discovery at the site of a new apartment building in 2014. Workers unearthed the largest fossilized mammoth tusk found in the region, which measured 8 feet 6 inches long. Paleontologists believe it’s at least 16,000 years old and could be up to 60,000 years old.

After discovering the tusk, paleontologists took over the excavation to ensure the tusk’s safe removal. Because of the layers of sediments surrounding the tusk, the specialists determined construction was occurring over the site of an ancient lake, giving insight into the city’s paleoenvironmental conditions during the ice age.

Other prehistoric animals unearthed in the Seattle area include a giant ground sloth and an extinct species of bison. In nearby Redmond, WA, during the construction of a shopping center, workers stumbled upon more than 4,000 stone tools used by a local civilization about 10,000 years ago.

Scientific Time Capsule

As demolition crews worked on the MIT.nano site, they discovered something that looked out of place. The object was a glass tube with instructions taped to the outside: “Please do not open until 2957 A.D.”

In 1957, a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students buried a time capsule in celebration of a newly constructed building. It was the first of two well-known time capsules hidden on campus. Anticipating that the documents wouldn’t hold up for half a century, professor Harold “Doc” Edgerton designed a glass tube with a vacuum seal that preserved the scientific papers and mementos inside. The items inside served to tell about the state of science, technology, and education at the time.

Unexploded World War II RAF Bomb

On December 25, 2016, tens of thousands of Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany, residents were forced to evacuate the city after the discovery of a 4,000-pound RAF bomb at a construction site. During World War II, the Allies dropped about 3.4 million tons of explosive. As many as 15 percent of the bombs never exploded, including the one found on Christmas morning. It took experts 11 hours to diffuse the “mega bomb.”

You’ll never know what lies beneath your Oregon demolition site until you break ground. But, before you do, there could be valuable assets on your site! Find out more about Elder Demolition’s demolition and asset recovery services by contacting us today.


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