Thursday, January 17, 2008

American Indians in Port Tobacco

I'm a little late in writing today's blog. Pete and I were in the northern part of the state today mapping a hillside cemetery that a high school group is restoring under the direction of their teachers and members of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake.

I wanted to say a little more about Pete's blog yesterday. First, that we found American Indian artifacts at Port Tobacco was not a surprise. Fragments of stone tools and pottery, and waste flakes from stone tool making had been found by others over the years. Our finds are important for several reasons.
  1. We know exactly where each piece came from, so we can look at their distribution across the site and better define where the people who discarded those objects lived. As Pete pointed out, we have identified three concentrations of material (locuses or loci) so far.
  2. Because we have been able to identify separate loci, we can look at each independently from the others. The artifacts in one locus may differ from those in another, or they may be the same, suggesting different uses of the land from season to season or over the years, or considerably stability in the adaptations of the local aboriginal groups to the Port Tobacco drainage and its immediate environs.
  3. We can relate these loci to other features of the landscape, most specifically to the changing course of the Port Tobacco River. That tells us how and when the river drainage changed prior to European settlement.

No, dear readers; you have not heard the end of our prehistoric finds at Port Tobacco, only th beginning. We will revisit the collection and look more carefully at the stone (lithic) material to see what we might learn through further analysis, and we hope to conduct more test excavations at each of these loci to collect additional data as well as to seek the remains of aboriginal hearths, storage pits, and houses.


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