Artifacts from 1800’s discovered at Shofuso Japanese House

Some of the Artifacts recovered from the dig site.
Some of the Artifacts recovered from the dig site.

During July and August Shofuso Japanese House and Garden conducted an archaeology investigation at the site of the first Japanese garden in North America beginning July 29. This Japanese garden from the 1876 Centennial Exposition is adjacent to the grounds of the current Japanese house and garden.

Funded by the William Penn Foundation, archaeologists from AECOM Burlington sought evidence of sculptures, paths, and plant specimens, as well as the location of the foundation stones from the Japanese Bazaar that introduced 19th century American visitors to Japanese art and gardening.

AECOM are global leaders in fully integrated engineering, design and program management services. Locally, they are more than 50 archaeology professionals with large field and laboratory staff based in Conshohocken, PA and Burlington, NJ.

“Shofuso’s archaeological dig is the first part of our master planning process.” said Kim Andrews, Executive Director of the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden. “We are creating a multi-year plan to build a visitors center and restore or recreate that 1876 Japanese garden.”

From the end of July through mid- August, Shofuso, with AECOM Burlington archaeologists, undertook the investigation of this first Japanese garden through an archaeological survey of the area of the 1876 Centennial garden, located behind Shofuso’s waterfall and accessible from Avenue of the Republic.

Staff using a shifting technique to search for artifacts from the 1876 Centennial Exposition.
Staff using a shifting technique to search for artifacts from the 1876 Centennial Exposition.

Additional archival research will be conducted based on the findings of the archaeological survey, photographic records, contemporary written descriptions, maps, and hand-drawn plans available of that garden.

Shofuso will be documenting the archaeological excavation on their website with still photos and video. Updated descriptions and images will be posted to both Shofuso and AECOM’s social media. This project will:

• Inform the development of Shofuso’s master plan, to culminate in the development of a visitors center and an interpretive installation at the site of the 1876 Centennial Japanese garden.

• Discover a new body of knowledge through research and interpretation of the first Japanese garden in North America

• Support the expanding interpretation of Shofuso as the representation of Japanese culture in Philadelphia from 1876 to present day.

Possible future project for the archaeological survey site include restoring the 1876 Japanese garden to its original appearance and installing an interpretive children’s playground using the discovered garden map as inspiration. Visit our web site at http://www.shofuso.com for updates.

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