Images: Sarah Jane Ruch/Museum of the American Revolution

History has left us with many wonders, sometimes buried in elaborate vaults or ornate tombs. Other times, artifacts of times past are found in somewhat less sophisticated surroundings. Take for instance, the Museum of the American Revolution’s latest 82,000-piece haul—found in 300-year-old toilets in Philadelphia.

The museum discovered these archaeological finds before constructing a new building near Independence Hall in the heart of Philadelphia. Although the museum expected to discover some artifacts buried on these historical premises, the sheer number was overwhelming. Supposedly, human waste actually does a pretty great job of preserving artifacts. Who knew?

Artifacts spanning 300 years of American History were found in these aging shitters. Because Philadelphia had no municipal trash service in early American history, public toilets also pulled double duty as trash dumps.


Included in this messy assortment of historical findings are pieces of cups from an illegal tavern that was up and running during the Revolutionary War, a punch bowl that references a merchant ship called the Triphena (top image), and shells used by a button factory during World Wars I and II. Also discovered were dozens of bowls, tankards, and gemstones inscribed with the British Coat of Arms.

It’s like they say—one man’s shit is another man’s precious museum artifact. The Museum of the American Revolution opens in April next year.