Friday, October 3, 2008

William Graham and “The Indians of Port Tobacco” – Part 2

Here is part two of Carol's blog.

*It is not the intent nor wish of the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project to look for or excavate human remains.*

At the Warehouse Landing site four burials were found. All were secondary burials.

First Ossuary -- According to the paper in 1930 William Graham was told that a human skull had been found at Warehouse Point a few years earlier. (Laws and concerns have changed since the 1930’s.) With the landowner’s permission, Graham excavated the first burial site. The pit was oval, and there was no particular order in placing the disarticulated bones from approximately ten skeletons. No stone artifacts nor pottery were found in the ossuary. Near one body there were found eighteen copper tubes or beads. Also two varieties of shell beads were found when the dirt was sifted.

Second Ossuary – In 1933 after a heavy rain, fragments of human bone were found projecting out of the soil at Warehouse Point. Dr T D Stewart of the United States National Museum assisted Graham with the excavation. They found an oval burial pit with the disarticulated bones of about fifty skeletons. There were a clay pipe, two kinds of shell beads, two shell gorgets, and one clay bead,

Third Ossuary – Just north of the second ossuary was found another oval burial pit with approximately one hundred human skeletons. There were also some bones of a dog. No stone artifacts were found. Three kinds of shell beads including the type know as wampum, a shell pendant, two clay pipes, one clay bead, and a bone tool were found in the ossuary.

Fourth Ossuary – East of the first ossuary Dr Stewart worked with Graham to excavate another oval pit that may have contained about twenty-five skeletons. It appeared to be a little different from the others. As in the other ossuaries there were two kinds of shell beads. There were a number of rolled copper beads as well as three triangular flat copper ornaments. Five flat rectangular copper plates were pieced with two holes on opposite corners and still had some sinew or strips of skin on them. Twenty-five small round blue glass beads (2mm to 6mm in diameter) and eleven round opaque white glass beads (5mm in diameter) were found. These glass beads would have been trade beads.

You can read more about these excavations and other ossuaries in Maryland in Dennis Curry's book: "1999 Feast of the Dead: Aboriginal Ossuaries in Maryland. The Archeological Society of Maryland and the the Maryland Historical Trust Press, Crownsville."

- Peter

1 comment:

Carol said...

Although it doesn't add any additional information here is the rest of this blog--

There are more details in the report. And I really don’t feel competent (nor comfortable) in going into more detail. But the report does indicate that the two ossuaries (#2 and #3) in one area contained no copper nor any other “contact” material while the other two ossuaries (#1 and #4) in the other area did.

I plan to take another look at the “Port Tobacco” collection at the MSC. So until later.