CAMDEN (WPVI) --They were dishing the dirt over an extraordinary find in Camden, literally.
Archaeologists recently went underground along the Camden waterfront in search of some precious and historical items.
On Thursday, their findings were put on display.
Ilene Grossman-Bailey of the firm Richard Grubb & Associates showed off artifacts from a months' long archaeological dig on the Camden waterfront, items that testing shows date back to 1400 BC.
"I'm flabbergasted. Just to hear that it goes back upwards of 1,000 years before Christ, so to speak, that's really powerful stuff," T&M Associates Project Manager Mark Stettler said.
The discovery includes about 1,300 ancient items, tools that would have been used by Native Americans.
A piece of hearth was darkened by flames.
A round ball is believed to be a grinding stone.
A shard of ceramic soapstone was likely part of a vessel or pot.
"These items are fairly rare; it's exciting to find this. Native Americans did not paint their pottery. That's what makes it really interesting and gives us the possibility that we can learn a lot about how people were living," Grossman-Bailey said.
The artifacts were discovered as Camden County prepared for the giant Holtech project now underway.
It required realigning nearby Broadway and when the digging started, well, one thing led to another.
A team of archaeologists is now in the process of catalog and analyzing the pieces that were excavated. Eventually, historians from the state will decide what to do with them.
"My hope is after the state categorizes everything and that it's there and whatever they have to do, that it comes back to Camden County," Susan Shin Angulo, Camden County Freeholder, said.
Mark Stettler, the engineer on the realignment project, is a fifth generation Camden resident.
"We are not only bringing the city of Camden back, but we are also taking the opportunity that we preserve the history that's there," Stettler said.