Archaeologists digging up St. Louis' history to learn about its - KMOV.com

Archaeologists digging up St. Louis' history to learn about its first settlers

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Archaeologists are digging up artifacts in an effort to learn more about the first settlers in St. Louis. (Credit: KMOV) Archaeologists are digging up artifacts in an effort to learn more about the first settlers in St. Louis. (Credit: KMOV)
This site will soon be used as a staging area for heaving machinery, so archaeologists are eager to see what they can find. (Credit: KMOV) This site will soon be used as a staging area for heaving machinery, so archaeologists are eager to see what they can find. (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

The history of the city of St. Louis is meeting the present.

Archaeologists are digging up the remains of the first settlements in St. Louis, just south of the Arch where one of the first homes once stood.

It may not look like much when you pass by, but years ago, a fur trader, one of the first inhabitants of St. Louis, once lived in this location.

“The first house was built on this particular block, and this particular area was constructed around 1766 just a couple years after the founding of St. Louis, just a couple years after Lacelede and Chouteau arrived,” Michael Meyer of MODOT said.

With crews working on the ramp from the Poplar Street Bridge to I-55, this lot will soon be used as a staging area for heavy equipment.

Meyers’ goal is to get in and see what he can find before that happens. 

“Like plates and bowls imported from France, some of them are actually imported from Great Britain,” Meyers said.

Much of what they’re finding would be considered pieces of everyday items.

“It’s very distinctive, the color of the paste and this apple green glaze, you should find it at almost any colonial period 1700’s French site, and it’s all over the place on this site right here,” said Meyers.

But what’s even more important than what they find is what their findings mean.

What we’re trying to get at are the people,” Meyers said. “What can these artifacts tell us about the people that lived here and what they were doing and things like that,” he continued.

Centuries ago and a half a world away, Great Britain and France may have been great enemies, but Meyers says that may not have mattered.

“But when you come out here on the frontier you realize, yeah, there’s trade out here. You’ve got French people, they’re more commonly using the British stuff than the French stuff.  It’s easier to get,” Meyers said.

Meyers says what they’re finding here is significant.

“It actually, I believe, is going to change some of the way we interpret the history and archaeology of the region, I believe it actually changes the history or adds and embellishes some of the written history,” Meyers said.

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