Trash or Treasure? What I Found Excavating in Lower Manhattan

Joan Geismar
Bronxville Public Library, 201 Pondfield Rd, Bronxville, NY
December 9, 2018
2:00 pm  to  3:15 pm  

To the urban archaeologist, trash is a treasure trove of information. This was highlighted by excavations at the 175 Water Street block in Lower Manhattan, one of Manhattan’s early landfill sites. Literally created from 18th-century detritus, and then the repository of 18th- and 19th-century trash, the block’s debris included a 100-foot merchant ship scuttled to structure the garbage-laden landfill. The derelict hulk was the site’s most extraordinary example of urban trash as well as its most spectacular artifact. This, and the more than 1,000,000 less sensational artifacts recovered from the site, as well as the research prompted by the finds, raises the question: is garbage trash or is it treasure? You be the judge.

175 Water Street Excavation

1875 Viele Map of “made land” (tan), detail; 175 Water Street Block indicated by red dot

Joan Geismar is a practicing urban archaeologist in the New York‑metropolitan area. She received a doctorate in Anthropology in 1982 and is a founding member and current president of Professional Archaeologists of New York City, Inc., (PANYC). She serves on the Preservation Committee of the Municipal Art Society and has received several preservation awards. In 1999, she was designated a Centennial Historian of the City of New York City. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, community studies and the development of the urban condition, including landfill, transportation, housing, and sanitation issues.


Clothing Egyptians

Phyllis Saretta
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue, New York
December 31, 2018

Cloth and garments in ancient Egypt were considered to be one of the most important components of a person’s life. Clothing was not only functional, but was symbolic of a person’s social position. Cloth was highly valued and appeared as a major feature in the list of tomb offerings. Cosmetics, jewelry and other accoutrements were not only ornamental, but were believed to have magical properties attached to them as well.

This tour would examine transitions in ancient Egyptian fashion from the severe to the frivolous. Objects and images include shirts, dresses, sandals, mirrors, kohl tubes, razors, jewelry, wigs, and hair ornaments from the collection of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum.


Date to be determined