Saturday, September 12, 2009

Archeological Society of Maryland

The Board of Trustees of the Archeological Society of Maryland met in its quarterly meeting today. As always, the discussions were wide-ranging and productive. Among other things, the Board expects to announce the site of the 2010 annual field session sometime before the end of the calendar year. Likely regions are Western and Northern Maryland.

We also settled on a date for the Spring Symposium: April 10. As principal organizer, I have selected the Archaic periods as the theme for the day-long event and I'm looking for a venue in Central Maryland. Hopefully, the assembled scholars will help shed some light on the Archaic deposits that we documented in the fields south of Port Tobacco in the spring of 2009.

More details as they become available....


Friday, September 11, 2009

Kelley Walter

The PTAP team member of the week is Kelley Walter. The newest and the youngest of the bunch, Kelley joined GAC in June of this year.

Monday is Kelley's birthday...hurrah!

She graduated from the University of Toronto this past spring and worked at Port Tobacco in May as a participant in the Archeological Society of Maryland annual field session. Apart from the field session, Kelley has been busy with the GAC team on a number of surveys and test excavations, as well as lots of cataloging and occasional posting on this blog.

As you can see from the picture on the left, when not digging and searching for ancient trash, Kelley likes to get outside and get a different perspective on the world.

Sometimes Kelley varies her view of the world from the top of an equid, riding around her home town in north-central Maryland.

Kelley expects to begin graduate studies in anthropology next year.

Happy birthday from the PTAP/GAC crew!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Give me a hen!

Anne and I have stumbled upon many tiny pieces of metal during our cataloging, and some of the most interesting of these are printer's type. So far close to twenty pieces of printer's type have been found in units at Port Tobacco, which is understandable as at the town's peak it was the home of two newspapers: The Port Tobacco Times and The Maryland Independent. While these small pieces can be difficult to recognize, two distinguishing features that aid in their identification are notches on one end of the type which were to hold the type in the printing press, and, if the type is undamaged, a letter on the opposite tip. These letters are quite minuscule, usually no larger than 10 or 12 pt. font. These three pieces of type came from three different units in the Jamieson Field. They are an "e," an "n" (upside down in our picture) and an "h." So far these are the only letters we have been able to identify.

These pieces of printer's type are no longer than an inch in length and the tips are at most 4mm high.
While we cannot determine which newspaper these printer's types were used for, they are in relatively close proximity to the south side of the town square where the Port Tobacco Times press was located. This paper was published weekly from around 1845 until 1898. We will let our readers know when we can actually form a sentence.

Kelley and Anne

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Things get twisted.

During this past field season several units in the Compton field produced wineglass stems. One of the most interesting types was stems with white spirals inside. This decoration caught the attention of many screeners because it was both distinct and beautiful. Originally a Venetian design known as latticino, our stems are in the rococo style. They are known as opaque white ribbon twists or enamel twists. The stems which contain colored ribbon twists were much less popular.

Two examples of this decorating technique are shown above. Both use a compound twist design: a central core with ribbons spiraling around it. The left image has a central cable with a single ribbon surrounding it. The bright white of the strands suggests this wineglass was made in England. The ­­image on the right has a double helix twist encircled by a multi-strand ribbon. This stem may be from Continental Europe, as the decorations are a more watery white and the glass is not as clear. This stem may have originally looked like the central image.

To create this lovely decoration, a glass maker rolled enamel threads into glass and twisted. The technique was developed in Venice and spread to other countries via either England or Bohemia around 1700. The English, however, used white enamel almost exclusively in stemware. This style spread to the colonies as early as the 1740’s, but their popularity peaked between 1760 and 1775.

Anne and Kelley

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Scratch Blue

During long and strenuous cataloging sessions it is sometimes easy to lose sight of how important a single sherd or two of ceramic can really be. Take for instance scratch blue decorated white salt-glazed stoneware. We have cataloged several pieces of this stoneware, the one on the right being from Stratum 2 of Unit 54 in the Compton Field and the one on the right being from Stratum 1 of Unit 74 in the Jamieson Field.

The scratch blue technique consists of incising decorative lines on a white salt-glazed vessel, which are then filled with cobalt. Any excess cobalt is wiped away, resulting in fine blue lines. This type of design was typically used on plates, cups, teapots, and tea boxes. Common designs were linear or floral, but there was variation such as this plate decorated with a scratch blue lion, as seen on the left. Later scratch blue was debased, meaning that some of the excess cobalt was allowed to remain on the vessel, thus more closely matching German Westerwald Stoneware imports, seen below to the right. Our second piece of scratch blue more closely resembles this "debased" type

Image from If These Pots Could Talk by Ivor Hume.

Image courtesy of Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum.

So what makes these two small pieces important? Scratch blue designs were made during a short period in the 18th century, predominately from 1745-1800, following an even shorter period when the incised lines on white salt-glazed vessels were filled with brown iron-oxide rather than cobalt. This limited production of scratch blue vessels enables more accurate dating of a stratum as it places it within a particular time range. This ultimately aids us in placing a site within a broader context in relation to other archaeological sites in the surrounding area.


If These Pots Could Talk by Ivor Hume.
Artifacts of Colonial America by Ivor Hume.

Monday, September 7, 2009

No Blog

Sorry...crew is taking the day off. We'll be back tomorrow.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Charles County Archaeological Society

Charles County Archaeological Society's first monthly meeting of the season will be this Tuesday, September 8, 7:30Pm to 9 PM, at the Port Tobacco Courthouse. The speaker will be the Society's president, Paula Martino. Paula will talk about her work this past spring in Israel.

We'll also discuss plans for the coming year.

Everybody is welcome.