Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shade-Tree Archaeologists

Working in the shade, a light wind blowing out of the south, the Saturday lab day at Port Tobacco was pleasant, even relaxing.

Scott, Carol (left) and Elsie (right) washed their way through several more bags of material recovered this spring. Lots of Colonial period artifacts.

I brought back about 40 pounds of artifacts that had been cleaned and re-bagged from the previous two weekends. That should keep our erstwhile cataloguers--Anne and Kelley--busy for awhile.

The Gibb Archaeological Consulting (GAC) team continues to balance a busy schedule of archaeological survey and testing for private clients and research and analysis of the Port Tobacco material. Despite recessions, wars, and reality television, the quest for the past continues unabated and at a rapid pace. Now and then, though, a quiet few hours washing artifacts in the shade is welcome.


PS. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn't wash a single artifact. I provided guidance...which is to say, I talked and slowed progress.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Other Sides of PTAP

I'll be joining Scott for a couple of hours at the Port Tobacco Saturday lab...hope to see some of you there.

As a brief series on Fridays, I would like to share with our readers the lighter sides of the PTAP team members. Next week I think I'll pick on Pete. Honors this week go to Anne. Like many folks under 30, Anne attends lots of weddings. Here she is at one of them.

Yeah, she's goofy at work too.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Laboratory Update

I am hoping that we will finish cleaning the Port Tobacco material recovered this spring by the end of this month. At this point, I expect to suspend labwork at Crownsville after Monday, August 24, and at Port Tobacco after the last weekend of the month (August 29 or 30). Completion of this work is essential if we are to complete cataloguing by mid-October and analysis and reporting by year's end.

We also need to get the spring work well in hand before we begin another round of investigations next month.

Volunteers are welcome and greatly are what makes this project rock and roll.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Old Point

While cataloguing material recovered from a provenience in the Compton Field (Unit 58, Stratum 1), Anne drew my attention to this quartz projectile point. It is the second one from that area that I've seen in the past two days.

The point was recovered from the plowzone, along with a number of flakes, a biface (knife) fragment, and part of another point, all made from quartz. While they have been vertically mixed through plowing and some 300 years of other European-American activities, not to mention several millenia of aboriginal activities on the same spot, this Archaic projectile point is a clear reminder of the long connection that Native Americans have had with Port Tobacco Creek, and with the region as a whole.

We are not sure exactly what type of point this is, but it most closely represents a Halifax point, a type variously dated to the Middle and Late Archaic periods, perhaps as early as 6,000 BC. It is lenticular in cross section, indicating that it was made from a larger core, rather than from a flake, and it was made through simple direct percussion, probably with a series of variously sized hammerstones. The point measures 2" by 1" by 0.38 ", or 5 cm by 2.5 cm by 1 cm. It is largely intact, apart from the loss of the left tang.

I am not hopeful that we will find intact Archaic deposits within the town core, which includes Compton field, but I am confidant that we have single-component Archaic sites (not mixed with earlier or later materials) in the cultivated fields that we meticulously collected and mapped last year. Port Tobacco has much to say about millenia of Native American occupation in Port Tobacco, and throughout Southern Maryland.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fieldwork Opportunities

Starting in September, PTAP will have field and laboratory opportunities for volunteers. These opportunities are particularly well-suited for candidates in the Certified Archeological Technician program of the Archeological Society of Maryland, but are open to all.

We would like to investigate another Union Encampment near Port Tobacco in September. Details forthcoming.

This Fall we anticipate undertaking investigations around the Burch House in advance of bathroom construction. Some of our readers may remember that the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project was, for all intents and purposes, born at this particular site from work that Scott and I did there in late Fall of 2006.

Later in the Fall, before the ground freezes, we anticipate additional excavations in Port Tobacco in search of Civil War era deposits.

Details of fieldwork opportunities will be announced when available. We will have a day-long lab at Port Tobacco this Saturday at the courthouse.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Odds & Ends

Our colleague Stephanie joined the GAC team for lunch today. Readers may recall that she left us at the end of May to work with the University of Maryland field school for the rest of the summer. She's off to the University of Manchester to start graduate school. We had pizza made by yours truly.

Port Tobacco washing and cataloguing continued at my house today. Kelley and her friend Dave catalogued artifact number 97,500 by the end of the day. Cataloguing continues tomorrow.

I still anticipate additional field work at Port Tobacco in September and October. I expect that we will announce dates at the first meeting of the year of the Charles County Archaeological Society in early September. Those dates will appear in the blog as well.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Getting to Bottom of Postholes

Yesterday I wrote about the line of large structural postholes in the so-called Cemetery Locus. We did not excavate completely any of those postholes. Had we done so, I think we would have found something like what I had excavated at the 1660s-1680s Patuxent Point site in Calvert County in 1989/1990.

The drawing shows what two of these postholes looked like on the surface and then, below those planviews, what they looked like in section after one-half of each was excavated. The ring around the postmolds in both cases probably represent replacement of the original posts.

I found a similar arrangement at the Garrett's Chance site in Prince George's County, Maryland, several years ago. All six of those posts clearly had been replaced. (See, or just search on, select the Discoveries page, then Garrett's Chance). Garrett's Chance probably was occupied from the 1690s through 1720s.


PS. There will not be a lab day at Crownsville tomorrow (Monday). The crew will be working at my office.