In January 2012 BYU archaeology students took their trowels and brushes to explore the foundation of Provo’s first tabernacle. The “Old Meetinghouse,” built in 1856 and cleared to its basement walls in 1919, left behind an opportunity for BYU archaeologists to document what remained. The 4-foot-thick limestone walls were located just north of Provo’s second tabernacle, which was damaged by fire in December 2010 and will be rebuilt as the Provo City Center Temple.
As they sifted the soil, students and workers from BYU’s Office of Public Archaeology found tiny artifacts that had slipped through the building’s wooden floor: coins, buttons, jewelry, and toys. “When you find something like a doll, you can’t help but ask, ‘Who did this belong to?’ and, ‘What did this mean to that person?’” says Katie K. Richards (BA ’09), a graduate archaeology student. “You try to recreate the past . . . which I think is really fun.” | Photography by Jaren S. Wilkey (BA ’01)