Volunteers for the City of Boston Archaeological Program are currently rooting around in what they think was Paul Revere’s neighbor’s outhouse. This has afforded the presumably delighted staff of the Associated Press the opportunity to make some incredible puns, such as “Flush with artifacts?” and “No. 1 if by land, No. 2 if by sea?”
“Paul Revere might well have come over here for dinner and used the bathroom,” Boston city archeologist Joe Bagley told the AP. “He had 12 kids in his own little house next door. It’s easy to imagine they didn’t stay cramped up in there all the time.” Forget dinner—get 12 kids in one house and you’re liable to find yourself routinely begging your neighbor to borrow his privy just for 15 minutes of time to yourself, bowel movement or no.
The find is exciting because toilets, much like garbage dumps, tend to be a total treasure trove for archeologists. Before the advent of finicky flush technology, you could toss anything you wanted to get rid of down the privy. Broken plate? Toss it! Shoes torn past repair? Jug with a busted lip? Bones leftover from dinner? Into the hole it goes, like a poop-smeared present for the delighted historians of the future. Even fossilized poop, if they find it, could reveal fascinating info about the diet of colonial-era Bostonians.
“For us, it’s an opportunity to get at a source of information that’s literally buried underground,” said Nina Zannieri of the Paul Revere Memorial Association
Outhouses: the gift that keeps on giving.