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Archeological dig unearths artifacts in Boston’s Chinatown

An archeological dig is underway at 6 Hudson St. in Chinatown.Boston Archaeology Program

The archeological dig that’s underway in Chinatown has yielded some interesting artifacts.

A toy marble, a piece of porcelain, and a mysterious patch of white-painted bricks are among the discoveries thus far at the excavation site, which is located at 6 Hudson St. near the Chinatown gate.

City archaeologist Joseph Bagley and his team started the work July 8. One of the first artifacts they unearthed was a piece of Chinese porcelain.

The blue-and-white porcelain probably dates to the turn of the 20th century, when Chinese immigrants moved into the home that once stood there.

While the building at 6 Hudson St. was demolished in the late 1980s, the property still holds a lot of history.


According to Bagley’s office, 6 Hudson St. was once the site of a 3.5-story rowhouse that was built in 1841. The first occupants were middle-class families of English descent, and by the 1860s it had become a boardinghouse for low-wage workers. Syrian immigrants called 6 Hudson St. home from 1899 until the 1920s, and the first Chinese immigrant was documented as living there in 1924. In 1929, Ruby Foo opened a Chinese restaurant called Ruby Foo’s Den on the ground floor.

While the building is no longer there, Bagley hopes to find links to the past that are lurking underground.

On the first day of the dig, Bagley and his team made another interesting discovery when they uncovered a white-painted brick surface on the property.

Another artifact they found was a glass marble that probably dates back to the late 19th century or early 20th century. The aqua-colored marble has a pontil, which is a little rough spot that formed when it was made. “On marbles, it’s the place where a rod was formally attached during the making of the marble,” Bagley wrote on Instagram. “When the marble is broken off the rod it leaves a rough spot, which you can see just right of center on the marble.”


On Friday, Bagley and his team shared a photo of a piece of pottery that was found in the backyard of 6 Hudson St., and asked for the public’s help in identifying it.

“We just found this piece of buff-bodied ceramic with red and black decoration,” the tweet said. “Possibly a flower design? From a 20th century deposit and possibly Chinese. Does anyone recognize this design/ceramic?”

The public is welcome to visit 6 Hudson St. weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and additional updates from the archeological dig will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram along with the hashtags #digbos and #digchinatown.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.