Friday, May 9, 2008

Two Sites Defined

NOTE: Fieldwork for this weekend has been cancelled due to the heavy rain received today!

In the fields south of Port Tobacco we have identified several sites. I'll write about them as we complete preliminary analyses. Two of the sites appear on the accompanying map: one prehistoric, the other late 18th or 19th century.
Figure 1. Map of the surveyed fields. The small symbols represent different kinds of artifacts, the ovals represent the sites that we defined on the basis of artifact concentrations.

The prehistoric site probably represents several small sites that were occupied several thousand years ago during the Late Archaic period. We found a large number of flakes (mostly quartz), several biface fragments, fire-cracked rock, and a Savannah River style projectile point (see below). Other flakes occur throughout the two fields, but they were scattered. We also found a Claggett projectile point in the northeastern corner of the northern field. Oyster shell was virtually absent in the western part of the field and that makes sense: the prehistoric sites likely were occupied before the Chesapeake Bay had reached its current state of development and before marine shellfish were available.

We also recovered a single sherd of aboriginal pottery indicating a Woodland period occupation. It came from near the field edge at the north end of the prehistoric site.

Figure 2. Claggett (left) and Savannah River (right) projectile points represent early aboriginal settlement along the Port Tobacco River.

The historic site was defined largely on the basis of brick rubble. We also recovered several pieces of what appears to be roofing slate. If the structure had a slate roof, it likely was of brick construction. I think it extends northward into the woods and we found only its southernmost edge. The site is difficult to date accurately because only a few datable artifacts (ceramic sherds) were recovered: two pieces of Chinese porcelain, a piece of white salt-glazed stoneware, a gray stoneware of uncertain vintage and a 19th-century whiteware.

The southern field proved to be heavily eroded. We found a cluster of oyster shell, three wine bottle sherds, a few brick fragments, and a scatter of flakes. It is possible that these are all related to an as yet unidentified site between the field and Chapel Point Road.

We will register the two sites with the Maryland Historical Trust as soon as we assemble a few more technical details. The scatter to the south must await further study.


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