An exploratory archaeological dig at the Ealy House in New Albany yielded 399 artifacts, including nails, glass, old coins, china and buttons, according to organizers.
The Nov. 4 dig at the site of a former outhouse on the property was a joint effort by New Albany-based engineering firm EMH&T and the New Albany-Plain Township Historical Society.
The site was chosen because before the days of trash collection, people would dump their trash near their outhouse, Ealy House curator Nancy Ferguson said.
The results of the dig are expected to help put a date on when the outhouse was built, and the items discovered could reveal more about the kind of lifestyle the Ealys once lived.
The type of material used for ceramic plates and dishes can help determine how financially well off the Ealys were, said Joel Brown, director of cultural resources at EMH&T.
Porcelain, for example, would have been more expensive, whereas plain white dinnerware would have been the least expensive, he said. Other material also can reveal information.
Regarding window-pane glass, the thickness can help determine the age of the glass, Brown said. The thinner the glass, the older the material, he said.
In the case of the outhouse, the brick foundation itself had an important clue about the structure's age.
As the dig was wrapping up, one of the EMH&T archaeologists found a brick with the number 63 on it, Ferguson said. That provides considerable evidence the outhouse was built in 1863, a few years after the house was finished in 1860.
The artifacts will be examined by the EMH&T archaeologists, Ferguson said. They then will be available to the public for viewing during a historical society meeting at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Plain Township fire station, 9500 Johnstown Road.
After that, the items will go on display permanently at the Ealy House, she said.
Ferguson said another dig might be scheduled at some point. For now, she and others might explore the property with a metal detector.
"Think what you could find in the entire yard," Ferguson said. "You might find even more."