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Benjamin Franklin's Mastodon Tooth

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Artifact Spotlight: Benjamin Franklin and the Mastodon Tooth
Portion of the basement in Franklin's property prior to the building's rehab in the 1960s

Portion of the basement in Franklin's property prior to the building's rehab in the 1960s

Photo courtesy Independence National Historical Park
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In 1953, an electrician working in the basement of a building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, unearthed a grey and white stone about the size of a large grapefruit. The basement was in a building that had belonged to one of the architects of American independence: Benjamin Franklin. The object was a fossilized mastodon tooth.

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