Discoveries in Delaware

Archaeologic discoveries can instantly change the preconceived ideas of home. In Delaware, local historians were amazed by the product of their excavation at Avery’s Rest in the Rehoboth Bay area (Daley 2017). The team of archaeologists were concerned about Avery’s Rest, a historical landmark in Delaware, being destroyed by development (Peikes 2017). In an attempt to salvage remaining artifacts, the team stumbled upon 11 burial sites dating to the late 1600s (Denison 2017). Further adding to the information gained, three of the burials were identified as African descent by the Smithsonian Institution (Denison 2017). This discovery provides historians the earliest proof of slavery in Delaware (Denison 2017). As for the family as a whole, the family worked hard. The Smithsonian Institution conducted a series of DNA tests on the remains found to not only identify their descent, but the conditions their bodies faced (Peikes 2017). Especially in the southern Delaware region (where Rehoboth can be located), the absurd amount of corn grown in the area is commonly joked about. Interestingly enough, Peikes’ article explains that the those who resided on the Avery plantation had a poor diet that contributed to the rotting of their teeth (2017). The culprit? Corn.

Figure 1: A cellar exvacation at Avery’s Rest in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Such a connection seems small on its own, but the implications are great. When paired with other discoveries throughout the site, it can be observed how Delaware has changed over time and how it has not. Examples like growing corn show a connection between our generation and the Avery’s, but things such as changes within human anatomy seen through today’s DNA testing illustrate some differences. The origin of those discovered at Avery’s Rest is also important because it can help give an idea of Delaware’s demographic in the 17th century. Surely there were many Europeans, but where exactly did they originate from? Questions like this help put Delaware’s current demographic in perspective and offer potential familial ties for natives to the area. Looking at the broader picture, other preconceived ideas or assumptions can be disproved. For example, the assumption of not having slavery in the north can be disproved by a discovery like this.

Figure 2: A map of Avery’s Rest that details the 11 burial sites.

It’s strange to picture Delaware as anything other than what it is today, however this discovery provides brand new insight on historical Delaware and what life was like in the 17th century. By filling in these gaps, Delawareans and historians alike can get a clearer picture of what the former refer to as home.


Daley, Jason. “Remains Tell Stories of Delaware’s Earliest Enslaved.”, Smithsonian Institution, 8 Dec. 2017,

Denison, Doug. “Archaeological Discovery Writes New Chapter in Delaware’s Early Colonial History.” Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs – State of Delaware, 13 Dec. 2017,

Peikes, Katie. “Rehoboth Archeological Discovery Holds Clues to Delaware’s Earliest Settlers, Slaves.” Delaware First Media, 6 Dec. 2017,



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2 thoughts on “Discoveries in Delaware

  1. How is the practice of archeology becoming increasingly difficult in the modern world? What role, if any, should archaeologists play in protecting the archaeological record from development? Why?

    • The practice of archaeology is becoming increasingly difficult because it is has been associated with many works of fiction that misrepresent the concept. Along with people’s preconceived notions of what archaeology is, they also don’t understand the importance of it. With the use of the Internet in the modern world, one could see arrowheads or other archaeological artifacts being sold online. Examples like this show how people desire a certain uniqueness in their possessions and how poorly educated the public is on the preservation of archaeological sites. Archaeologists should a vital role in protecting the archaeological record from development because, as previously mentioned, people are so unaware of the archaeology sites they are surrounded by and the implications of the past that they hold. Since archaeologists understand the importance of preserving and recording sites (since the sites may seem meaningless to the untrained eye), it is their job as professionals to record and publish their findings. It is essential that what is preserved in an archaeological record maintains true to the conditions it was initially discovered in. By maintaining the archaeological record, archaeologists ensure that people’s culture and history are preserved for purposes of identity, self confidence, and the like” (Mapunda 1991).

      Mapunda, B. (1991). THE ROLE OF ARCHAEOLOGY IN DEVELOPMENT: The Case of Tanzania. Transafrican Journal of History, 20, 19-34. Retrieved from

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