For the past three days, a small, shovel-wielding crew in florescent vests have been digging deep holes along a 50 yard path on the edge of Boston Common and painstakingly combing through the dirt.

City archeologist Joe Bagley, who is leading the dig, says “You would not believe how much people are willing to walk past weird stuff happening in the city of Boston.”

None of the diggers are dressed like Indiana Jones, so how are we supposed to know they’re archeologists?

“From a distance archeology crews look like any other construction crew out there so you can’t really peg us for what we’re doing,” says Bagley.

What Bagley and his team are doing is searching for centuries-old gunflints, and millennia-old shells - right in the heart of the bustling city.

"We know there is a Revolutionary war site here and there was a site here from the Native people that’s 400 to a thousand years old," says Bagley.

That’s thanks to an archeological survey done on this spot 20 years ago.

“The archeological testing found gunflints and musket balls but the testing that was done was not the most thorough testing you can do on an archeological site,” Bagley explains.

That the remnants of a British military campsite would be found undisturbed under the Common is something of a minor miracle, says Bagley, given the makeover the park got in the early 1900’s courtesy of the sons of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead.

“They did a great job making the park look great, but their job was to dig up large portions of the soils on the common, mix them with organic soils, churn them all up and dump them back on the common – which is really bad for archeology as you can imagine.”

As it turns out, the Olmsteads missed a few spots, and this area appeared to be one of them. So when energy company Eversource recently proposed laying an electrical line through this very path, Bagley seized the opportunity to take a closer look.

“One of my review capacities as city archeologist is to review projects that happen in Boston Common and when I saw this project come up, I definitely red flagged for archeological survey,” he says.

The survey is exploratory. 12 holes dug along the path to determine whether there really are undisturbed sites below. Just finding artifacts is not enough. Bagley says they also need to see a signature progression of soil colors as they dig, an indication that the ground below has remained untouched for centuries.

“In New In New England we have really standard soil level colors, it goes dark brown, reddish brown, tan.”

On Wednesday afternoon, they hit pay dirt, uncovering a revolutionary-era British gunflint, and shells, perhaps a thousand years old, left over from a Native American meal - both from undisturbed sites. Bagley says these items are likely just a hint of what stands to be found here. Given what he’s seen, if Eversource moves forward with their project at this location, Bagley will return and do a full-scale archeological excavation.

“As with any archeological site we just want to know more about the people that lived here; what their daily lives were like,” says Bagley. “Cause they’re missing from history. The troops don’t leave that many diaries from hanging out in a tent on the common for 10 years and the Native people - we have great oral history - but there’s a lot of really specific data that we’re missing.”

Data just waiting to be uncovered if – like Bagley – you know just where to look.

Digging for yourself on the Common is against the law, but not to worry — as with any dig led by the city archeologist, all artifacts uncovered will be cataloged, added to the city collection, and made available to researches – and the public – by request.