In January of 2001, in intermittent driving rains and chilly afternoon winds blowing out to the bay, a grader’s rotating blades scraped the surface of a completely unexpected archaeological site. It first appeared as a large, square black stain in the earth surrounded by rocky fill soils. Closer inspection revealed that the dark stain was in fact a thick layer of burned wood mixed with brick and pockets of fill soil. Probing with shovels and trowels, the crew’s routine interest suddenly turned to heated excitement as an exceptional assemblage of 19th century artifacts was uncovered lying beneath and amongst the mixed debris capping the site.
Even more fascinating to the crew was the fact that the majority of the artifacts appeared to be Chinese in origin, consisting at first of mostly ceramic tableware fragments and pieces from utilitarian storage vessels. However, the true excitement came when we realized that these masses of ceramic and glass sherds were broken in place, indicating that the site had remained undisturbed since being covered over by landfill sometime in the mid to late 19th century.