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Provo Tabernacle archaeological work almost done

Published: Wednesday, March 28 2012 9:00 a.m. MDT

BYU student Katie Richards uses a trowel to carefully loosen the dirt as she and other workers uncover the original foundation of Provo's first tabernacle, a building known as the "old meetinghouse," near the gutted historic Provo Tabernacle Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. Students from BYU aid in the effort to dig up the old building.

Scott G Winterton, Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — With work winding down on the archaeological examination of the original Provo Tabernacle foundation, officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are beginning to prepare to break ground for the new temple that will be built on the site.

According to LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter, the archaeological team from Brigham Young University that has been excavating and documenting the foundation will complete its work on Saturday, March 31 — the opening day of the church's 182nd Annual General Conference.

According to Richard Talbot, director of the Office of Public Archaeology at BYU, the team has been working around the foundation of a building that was known as "the old meetinghouse," just north of the Provo Tabernacle that was mostly destroyed in a fire in December 2010. The old meetinghouse was built in 1867 and co-existed with the Provo Tabernacle — which was built in the late 1880s — for a period of time until the original meetinghouse was demolished in 1919.

"We're finding little trinkets, beads and buttons and straight pins, a little doll," Talbot told KSL's Sam Penrod last month. The team has also found "some of the best-cut stone you will see, put together in a solid foundation that held up this building."

Trotter said "the stone from the foundation will be donated to Provo City to be used in community projects that honor the area's pioneer heritage."

"Artifacts from the excavation will be displayed at BYU once they are processed and documented," Trotter said.

When the foundation is removed the excavation site will be backfilled and prepared for groundbreaking ceremonies that will officially launch construction of the new Provo City Center Temple, Trotter said.

"The date of the temple groundbreaking is pending," he added.

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