Archaeologists are spending the weekend in Mount Holly Springs. It’s part of a broader effort to preserve the history of the African American community that built and worshiped at the Mount Tabor Church.

As a kid, I loved archaeology and Indiana Jones and stuff like that, said Steven Campbell, an archaeology student at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

In a roundabout way, that’s what led him to Mount Holly Springs.

Part of his Master’s thesis involves the historic Mount Tabor Church, which was built by freed slave and civil war veteran Elias Parker. 

Campbell has been working on the project for months.

He came out and collected data with a ground-penetrating radar unit and in the data there was a big anomaly right here, said Zaakiyah Cua, another archaeology student.

So Campbell, fellow students, volunteers and even neighbors started digging in the field nearby the building.

We know there was a structure here at some time, and this may be part of the foundation, said Merle Barclay, who lives nearby the excavation site. 

The group found what appears to be a rock wall. 

We’re brushing the last little bit of dirt out just so we can take some pictures, said Barclay.

We measure it, we draw it on paper so we can get as much as we can out of it without fully disturbing it, said Campbell.

Students are bringing some of the artifacts, like change and buttons, back to the Indiana University of  Pennsylvania to date and process. 

We found it within one of our test units. It’s a piece of glass which may be a handle to a drawer, said Campbell.

Campbell is sharing his findings with community members working to save mount tabor church.

I 3D scanned the church, and then I’m doing dendrochronology also, so I’m hoping that’ll give them a better date range and will let them preserve the church, said Campbell.

The excavation wraps up Sunday.