U-Idaho Archaeology Dig in Downtown Boise Successfully Unearths History

Wednesday, August 8 2012


BOISE, Idaho – Now through Saturday, you can travel 130 years into the past – and don’t even need a time machine. Simply pay a visit to Boise’s Basque block, where University of Idaho is showing off finds from an urban, archaeological dig now underway at the Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga house, 607 Grove St.

That’s where U-Idaho archaeologists Mark Warner and Stacey Camp are overseeing excavation of an old well. So far, it’s given up such items as an intact, decorative bottle of Gilt Edge ladies’ shoe polish; marbles and jacks; the head of a porcelain doll; and nice- sized shards of a Haviland & Company bowl imported from France.

The Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga Public Archaeology Project is telling the often forgotten stories of early life in Boise

This dig is also revealing a broader history. Among the discoveries are ceramics from England and France, along with other items made in cities and towns along the east coast -- demonstrating that more than a century ago, Boise was a town with ties to a global economy.

Today, the 1864 Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House is the oldest brick residence in Boise and is still in its original location. It was home to early settlers, Cyrus and Mary Jacobs, and later was operated as a Basque boarding house. It later became a community center for Basque sheepherders to gather, speak their language and celebrate their culture.

Unlike many archeological digs, this effort to unearth history has been made public. Some 500 people have already visited the site to take in the action and visit with archaeologists and volunteers.

There’s still time to visit the dig. It will welcome visitors between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. through Saturday, Aug. 11.

The University of Idaho is leading the work in collaboration with the Basque Museum & Cultural Center, the Idaho Archaeological Society, the Idaho Heritage Trust and the Boise National Forest.

For an online look at what’s going on, visit www.uidaho.edu/class/cjuh-project.  
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The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.