Archaeological Artifacts Exhibit in West Roxbury: 5,000 Years at Brook Farm

Boston's first Archaeological Museum exhibit is on display at the Boston Archaeology Laboratory at 201 Rivermoor St., West Roxbury.


A first-of-its-kind archaeological exhibit of artifacts excavated through an archaeological survey is now on display at the Brook Farm Historic Site in West Roxbury.

Want to see a 5,000-year-old Native American spear point? See it at the City of Boston Archaeology Laboratory at 201 Rivermoor St., now on view through June 15.

The exhibit is designed by Boston University graduate student, Sarah Keklak, and hosted by City Archaeologist Joseph Bagley. The City Archaeology Laboratory is free and open to the public by appointment Tue. - Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call or email Joe Bagley at 617-635-3850 or joseph.bagley@cityofboston.gov to schedule an appointment. Boston's Archaeology Program was founded in 1983 to preserve, protect, and promote the City of Boston’s archaeological heritage. The City Archaeologist supervises the City Archaeology Laboratory and serves as an ambassador to more than 200 known archaeological sites in Boston

Brook Farm takes its name from an experimental and intended utopian community of local intellectuals and Transcendentalists, which included noted historical figures such as George Ripley, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Fuller.

Brook Farm lasted only from 1841 to 1847, the community struggled financially, was devastated by a massive fire of its largest communal housing building, and also the group suffered from a lack of farming knowledge.

Through the years there have been several groups that have tried to farm on the land, including the New Brook Farm organization, which is currently trying to grow on the land again as a community farm.

No original Brook Farm structures remain standing. Brook Farm is a National Historic Landmark, which is run by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation, as well as a designated Landmark of the City of Boston. 

Professional archaeological investigation of the property began in 1990 and continued until 1994, according to a press release. The display at the lab showcases more than 100 artifacts from Brook Farm highlighting "the diverse uses of the property, including a 5,000-year-old Native American spear point, colonial artifacts, painstakingly reconstructed ceramic serving dishes used by the Brook Farmers..." Personal items are also on display from the Brook Farm era community.

Later use of the property is represented by Civil War-era items from Camp Andrew, and toys from an orphanage run out of the Hive building, which was the heart of Utopian-period community. “These artifacts represent some of the only physical remains of the Brook Farm community and reveal new information about what happened on the propriety before and after the Utopian period,” said Bagley, via press release. 

“I am proud that these artifacts have been unearthed to educate a new generation,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino via press release. “Today Brook Farm is recognized as a pivotal component of the Transcendentalist movement and a pioneer in gender equality.”


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