Saturday, May 31, 2008
It is soft lead, oval in outline, about 3.2 inches by 2.4 inches and about 0.09 inches thick. The oval, punched holes are under a quarter of an inch along their longest axes. (The scale is metric.)
The object came from the earliest of our sites that I've discussed for the past couple of days, most of its associated historic artifacts probably dating to the late 17th century and first quarter of the 18th.
What gets my goat is I'm pretty sure I've seen one of these things before. Speculations appreciated, positive identifications preferred.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The small site that we finished collecting yesterday produced only about three dozen historic period artifacts. I washed them last night and noticed that of the three pipestems we collected, two had bore diameters of 7/64ths inches and the other 5/64ths inches. The former are typically of the last quarter of the 17th century.
We also recovered, among the sherds of Buckley earthenware and other redwares, one sherd of Staffordshire Combed Slipware and one of Midlands Yellow. Midlands Yellow, and English ceramic type, has been recovered on sites in the region dating to the very end of the 17th century and the very early 18th century.
The artifact sample is too small for building robust hypotheses, but I suspect we have found the earliest site to date at Port Tobacco. It is almost certainly part of the town's precursor, Chandler's Town. This is a site well worth further exploration.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Of course, we have found a great deal of prehistoric material as well, including many of the same projectile point styles and a sherd or two of aboriginal pottery.
We expect to return to the field and finish this Friday. We'll then spend the next week or two drafting maps, cataloguing and report writing. We have a couple of other projects that are ahead in the queue, but we should finish them quickly enough.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Wilmer also found himself associated the Lincoln assassination conspiracy. Apparently, as Booth and Herold approached the home of Dr. Mudd, they originally asked for directions to the Rev’s house and supposedly headed in that direction.
He was Rector of the parish from 1822 to 1869; a rather long time. He is best known for his establishment of one of the earliest “free” schools in Maryland. Begun in 1833, he provided land and money to start a free public school "for 100 children living in the vicinity without regard to their sect, sex or circumstance." The altar in the present Christ Episcopal Church in La Plata, is dedicated to Wilmer.
It is interesting to note that Wilmer is also directly descendant from Augustine Herrman, noted 17th century Maryland cartographer.
On another quick note, we all know archaeology is fun, but this weekend Jim and I worked on a Phase I job in Calvert County. It was very hot and in all the test pits we dug, we found no evidence of historic or prehistoric occupation. I guess it's just as important to know where things are not, as it is to know where they are.
SPECIAL NOTE FROM JIM: We soon will post a schedule of lectures and workshops that will occur during the June 13-23 Archeological Society of Maryland field session at Port Tobacco. This schedule will supercede that recently published in ASM Ink, the newsletter of the Society. As I tell my students at the beginning of each semester, life doesn't come with a syllabus...be prepared for last-minute changes.
Also, we will be in the field just north of Warehouse Point on Wednesday and, probably, Friday.
Monday, May 26, 2008
The canal was completed in 1803 and fell into disuse around 1830, the new Susquehanna Canal on the Harford County side of the river taking its place.
The Harducoeur map of 1799 shows a portion of the canal as planned. The locks on which the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake is currently working appear near the center of the image above, on the right hand side of the confluence of Octoraro Creek and the Susquehanna River. (If you are having trouble visualizing where it is today, the right hand side of the map is roughly north and the locks are just below the Conowingo hydroelectric dam.)
In 1817 Benjamin Henry Latrobe, one of the nation's first premier architects and canal engineers, redrew an earlier map of his showing the canal locks as-built (see below).
The locks are indicated just above the center of the image. Latrobe accurately depicted the locks as perpendicular to the main axis of the canal. That is to say, whereas Harducoeur expected the canal locks to be in line with the canal, Latrobe understood that they would not. The canal paralleled the river and, just before reaching Octoraro Creek, turned 90 degrees to the river, the engineers taking advantage of the topography to effect the decent in elevation with one set of three locks. The canal, upon descending through the locks, turned 90 degrees again, this time to parallel the river as before, extending downstream to a viaduct that carried the canal over the creek.
The current archaeological effort examines the construction of the locks and investigates buildings associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the canal.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Ann Persson and I prepared a report on the work which we have just submitted to the Archeological Society of Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust. The report includes a topographic map of the northern lock and its surroundings, a version of which appears below.
In the course of the shovel test survey we identified a prehistoric site, indicated by shovel tests in red (below); that is, those units that produced prehistoric artifacts of as yet unknown vintage. The canal appears to have cut through the site.
We also excavated two shovel tests in the canal lock to determine whether a floor survives, whether of prepared clay, wood, or gravel. We encountered none.
We hope to return to the site, perhaps in the fall, to conduct additional testing within and around the canal and within and around two foundations that appear to date to sometime in the 19th century.