February 7, 2023

2023 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-June)

CCASM has been working with Charles County at the ongoing Public Archaeology Lab for a number of years.  The lab is for processing artifacts recovered from various archaeology initiatives in Charles County -  including processing artifacts recovered from savage archaeology in the County as well as those recovered in the 1970's around the Port Tobacco Courthouse.  Esther Read is the archaeologist in charge.

Health precautions:  Following guidelines for Charles County. 

Location: Courthouse and Burch House (both inside and outside) in Historic Port Tobacco Village  map

Next dates: 
      Monday,  Feb 13   (11:00am - 3:30pm)  fieldwork at Maxwell Hall (metal detecting)
      Monday,  Feb 20   (11:00am - 3:30pm)  Presidents' Day Holiday
      Monday,  Feb 27   (11:00am - 3:30pm)
      Monday,  Mar 6   (11:00am - 3:30pm)

Savern Patent Hub
Although Monday February 6 was overcast, it was still a good day for the Lab to be outdoors.  Ned, Elsie, Peggy, and Claudia worked outdoors  behind Burch House with some brushing off dirt and rust off artifacts and others brushing oyster shells or washing artifacts.  Denise, Malinda, and later Carol worked inside sorting and bagging any dried artifacts or else washing some of the really dirty artifacts.  All these artifacts were from the North Port Tobacco site.  Once again we chose one of the artifacts that Ned had identified as the artifact of the day.  The artifact of the day was this Sarven Patent Hub.

 
Shaft Coupling
Monday January 30 was one of those days that it's great to be outdoors - sunny and not too cold.  So we held the lab outdoors at Burch House and worked on artifacts recovered from the North Port Tobacco site.   Claudia brushed dirt off oyster shells while Peggy wash the other. non-metal artifacts.  Denise, Elsie, Ned, and Carol  brushed dirt and some rust from artifacts in one of the buckets.  We chose this carriage shaft coupling as the artifact of the day.  Ned identified it from an old Sears Roebuck Catalog.

Removing dirt from artifacts


 

Instead of lab on January 23 we had a party - a belated Christmas Party.   Esther brought the pizzas, and everyone else brought pot luck dishes.  Lots of food and a nice time to be together.

Ironstone Sherds
(Makers Marks)

Cast Iron Stove part
Monday January 9 was the first lab day in almost a month, and everyone seemed ready to come back.  First, we had to put up the Christmas decorations and throw out the dried up greenery, but then we got to work on the Port Tobacco Barn artifacts.  The site will now be referred to as the North Port Tobacco Site and has site number 18CH998.

Denise, Linda, and Malinda worked inside Bruch House sorting the artifacts that were in the drying screens.  We chose these ironstone sherds with makers marks as the artifact of the day.  The Johnson Brothers mark dates from 1883-1913 and the Alfred Meaker mark is pre-1897.

It was a beautiful day to be outside.  Elsie, Claudia, and Mary dry brushed fragile oyster shells and washed other artifacts recovered from over the forge area.  
Ned, Peggy, and Carol dry brushed at least one bucket of rusty iron artifacts, and Ned attached flagging tape with possible id to those artifacts that he could identify.  In addition to a hub and bearings and possible carriage hardware, there were some cast iron stove pieces including a foot and what we think may be part of a stove door.  So maybe we have two artifacts of the day.


2022 Public Archaeology Lab Days (July-Dec)
2022 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Feb-Jun)
2021 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Mar-Dec)
2020 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Sep-Dec)
2020 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-Mar)
2019 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jul-Dec)
2019 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-June)
2018 Public Archaeology Lab Days (July-Dec)
2018 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-June)
2017 Public Archaeology Lab Days (July-Dec)
2017 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-June)
2016 Public Archaeology Lab Days (July-Dec)
2016 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-June)
2015 Public Archaeology Lab Days


 

February 6, 2023

February 16 CCASM Meeting

February 16, 2023 (7 PM)

Centers of Exchange:  Comparing Virginia's Northern Neck and Maryland's Potomac Valley

Caitlin Hall will talk about the striking similarities between three Indigenous sites while also revealing important differences.  The three sites are Baylor and Camden in the Virginia Northern Neck, and Posey on the Potomac in Charles County, Maryland.   Caitlin will indicate why these sites may have served as trading posts and will point out how differences in the way the Virginia and Maryland colonial governments interacted with the Indigenous people impacted their future.

Caitlin Hall
Assistant Archaeologist (working with Dr. Julia King)

Location: La Plata Police Department, 101 La Grange Ave, La Plata, MD (map)
Parking is on the north side of the building (but not behind where the police cars are), on the street, and in the lot across the street.

Inclement weather policy: If the evening activities of the Charles County Public Schools are canceled due to inclement weather, CCASM meetings and/or activities will also be canceled.
Call the 24-hour information line [301-934-7410 or 301-932-6656] to hear if there are any announcements. If there aren't any updates, then CCASM activities will proceed as planned.

February 1, 2023

Volunteering with Dr. Julia King at Chapel Point Park

Dr. Julie King, Anthropology Professor at St Mary's College of Maryland, invited CCASM members to volunteer with her and her crew as they investigate a site in Chapel Point Park.  A plat shows a late 17th century house that was part of mission.  Also in the 1930s Native artifacts were found in this area.



Tuesday February 1 Ned again volunteered at the site.  Carol also decided to come out for a few hours after the snow had melted.  (The weather was too nice to stay home.)  There were two other people also volunteering.  Carol helped Caitlin with STPs.  Ned worked with Isabel, another woman that volunteers with Julie, and the two of them finished a number of STPs.  We were working closer to the Point.
Julie stopped by for a few minutes and indicated there were two areas of interest based on the initial STPs.
Friday January 27 Mary joined Ned to volunteer at the site.  Ned and Mary helped Caitlin screen STPs, and Mary found this triangular point (Late Woodland).  Again it was a beautiful day.


Thursday January 26 Ned once again volunteered at the site and continued to help clear thickets and cut lanes. One highlight was Caitlin finding the base and midsection of a quartz point at Fourth Point.  The day was a little overcast, but here is the view from Fourth Point.



Tuesday January 24 Ned and Carol volunteered at the site.  It was a beautiful day.  Ned worked with Caitlin, and Garret to continue laying in lines for an additional 100 STPs in the western part of the site that includes the point.  Carol worked with Aiden for a partial day to complete digging the STPs in the eastern part of the site.  Aiden then started digging STPs in the new area.  There's still a  lot to do.

Friday January 20 Carol joined Ned to help Caitlin screen STPS in the morning. The sun was out, there was little wind, and it was fairly easy to travel through the woods.
In the afternoon the crew moved to a different area and here is Ned's update on that area--
BRIARS! BRIARS! BRIARS!  Caitlin, Garrett, Aiden, and I cut more lines through BRIARS, REALLY BIG BRIARS, after lunch. Carol didn’t seem interested in BIG, BIG BRIARS and went home.  Our CCASM president has more sense that I do obviously. I had fun despite the loss of blood.  First photo below is an earlier area we had to cut through. The other two photos were in the last area we cut through showing what a great path we made.  See what you missed!

       

Wednesday January 18 Ned again volunteered with Julie's crew.  Here is Ned's update--
We cut lines on the southern end of the forest in the morning. Some of these were short and perpendicular to the east/west lines. Flags were set 50’ apart, and the lines are 100’ apart. The first STP that Caitlin dug had very wet clay that wouldn’t go through the screen.  The next STP we did was dryer and passed through the screen.  I found a blackened plain ceramic about 3/16” thick and about 1.25” square.  Caitlin was very happy with this ceramic. The STPs closer to the Port Tobacco River had a good bit of oyster shell. We found a few quartz flakes in a few of the STPs.  At an STP in the wheat field, I found a narrow bore, 1” long, white pipe stem which also pleased Caitlin.

Monday January 16 CCASM member Ned volunteered at the site.  Here is the information he provided--
Today at Chapel Point  three members of Julie's crew--Travis, Hanson and Aiden-- dug STPs.  I helped two other crew members -- Caitlin and Garrett-- cut lines from a wheat field through a pine forest to Port Tobacco Creek .  While the pine forest is relatively open, there were major thickets of fallen trees and heavy vines to cut through.  I think we cut at least five 200-yard lanes. Caitlin and I did most of the clearing while Garrett set the flags about every 50 feet.  I had fun, but it was a very tough job even with the heavy-duty tools I brought. 
Plans are for the crew to work Wednesday and Friday.  There are threats of rain on Tuesday and Thursday.

   
Thanks to Ned for the info and the photos.

January 21, 2023

Survey of the U-1105

Aaron Hamilton
At the January 19 CCASM meeting Aaron S. Hamilton provided an update on the underwater survey of the U-1105 German submarine shipwreck that the Battle of the Atlantic Research and Expedition Group (BAREG) is doing for the State of Maryland.  In additional to indicating the current state of the wreck, Aaron talked about the historical significance of the U-1105 and its four evolutionary technologies   Aaron was able to provide some of their findings but the final report will not come out until next year.  Overall it was quite an informative talk.

The U-1105 shipwreck preserve is off Piney Point, Maryland.


Aaron S. Hamilton is a published historian and avocational maritime archaeologist trained through the Nautical Archaeological Society. He is a founding member of the BAREG and has participated in both fieldwork or research on nearly a dozen surveyed wrecks from World War II. 
BAREG is focused on historical research of topics related to the maritime campaigns waged between the Allies and Axis/Central Powers during 1914-18 and 1939-45, diving wrecks associated with these campaigns, and documenting their current conditions via photography and/or videography.

A special thanks to Aaron for battling the Beltway traffic to travel to Charles County.

Members and visitors before the meeting

Attendance: 16

 

 

December 20, 2022

Wishing You a Merry Holiday Season


Warm Wishes for a Happy Holiday

December 17, 2022

The Wheelwright's Experience

Jim Gibb

At the December 15 CCASM meeting Dr. Jim Gibb's talk related to a site that CCASM is currently working on--a site that has lots of artifacts that could be associated with a wheelwright shop or a carriage shop.  Jim showed slides of various tools and objects that would be found in a wheelwright shop and in its forge.  The second part of the talk was about a late nineteenth century wagon workshop in western New York.  Jim talked about how the excavations indicated various outside areas where horses were shod and where there were forges.  

There were additional discussions relating to what we had found and what needed to be done including how the iron artifacts could be conserved.  A really productive exchange of information.

Carriage Workshop

Dr. James Gibb directs the Environmental Archaeology Lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.  He is a founding member of  the Charles County Archaeological Society.

Members and visitors talking with Jim before meeting

Attendance: 8

 

December 12, 2022

2022 Public Archeology Lab Days (Jul-Dec)

CCASM has been working with Charles County at the ongoing Public Archaeology Lab for a number of years.  The lab is for processing artifacts recovered from various archaeology initiatives in Charles County -  including processing artifacts recovered from savage archaeology in the County as well as those recovered in the 1970's around the Port Tobacco Courthouse.  Esther Read is the archaeologist in charge.
 

December 12 was the last day for Monday Lab this year.  Ned and Peggy worked outside Burch House in the 40° weather where they continued to dry brush rusty iron artifacts from the first of many buckets of iron artifacts.  Inside where it was a little warmer Denise, Elsie, and Carol along with Esther continued processing artifacts recovered from the PT Barn site. The remaining artifacts from the STPs were sorted and bagged, and work was started on washing the surface collected artifacts. 

We chose this aluminum label as the artifact of the day.  On the 1910 census a Frances B Matthews was listed as a merchant in La Plata.  In 1920 he was listed as an implement(?) and automobile dealer living between La Plata and White Plains.
 


On December 5 we were back at Burch House working on artifacts recovered from the Port Tobacco Barn site.  Malinda, Claudia, and Carol washed artifacts recovered from the STPs.  Peggy and Ned (later joined by Claudia) dry brushed one bucket of rusty artifacts.  Also Esther showed us the deed chain back to the 1600's for the property.

Although dry brushing is not that much fun, the artifacts were more interesting.  We chose a bucket of artifacts as the "artifact"of the day. 

Monday November 28 was the day for decorating Burch House for the Hoidays and also for getting ready for the Charles County Holiday Tour that will be this weekend (December 3-4).  Malinda, Elsie, and Carol brought greenery from their yards.  Denise brought down decorations from the attic.  Claudia, and Mary joined the others, and we all helped decorate.  We also set up the children's activity for the Holiday Tour and rearranged the Lab.  No one wanted their pictures taken, so here are some of the decorations.





 

On November 21 while many of the volunteers were volunteering in the field at the Port Tobacco Barn site, Claudia, Malinda, Kathy, Peggy, and Carol volunteered in the lab.  Peggy worked outside removing soil from two wheel hubs found int the blacksmith area of the Port Tobacco Barn site.  The rest of us finished bagging Maxwell Hall artifacts and continued washing the Port Tobacco Barn artifacts.  We also looked at some of the more interesting rusted metal artifacts (multiple buckets of them) that we will be processing starting in December.

Although Wednesday November 9 was not the normal Lab Day, Carol opened the Lab at Burch House and sorted/bagged artifacts that had been recovered from the Port Tobacco Barn site while the rest of us were in the field.  The unwashed artifacts will be taken to UMBC to be processed (for extra credit).

On November 7 once again Linda opened the Lab at Burch House and washed artifacts that had been recovered from the Port Tobacco Barn site while the rest of us were in the field.  There were a lot of muddy brick fragments washed.  She did stop by to see what we were doing and joined us for lunch since we weren't that far away.

On October 3 the field work planned for Maxwell Hall was cancelled due to the weather (thanks to Hurricane Ian).  Elsie, Linda, Denise, and Carol did show up at lab and ended up discussing various topics-- some archaeology related, some not. 

October 31 while the rest of us were in the field Linda opened the Lab at Burch House and washed artifacts that had been recovered from the back of Maxwell Hall on October 18.  She did stop by to see what we were doing and joined us for lunch since we weren't that far away.

On October 3 the field work planned for Maxwell Hall was cancelled due to the weather (thanks to Hurricane Ian).  Elsie, Linda, Denise, and Carol did show up at lab and ended up discussing various topics-- some archaeology related, some not. 

September 26 Denise and Carol continued cataloging while Mary and Claudia spent the whole time sorting and bagging glass fragments that belonged to the same lot.  Esther worked with Linda and Elsie as they filled out their first site form for a site we had identified in the Maxwell Hall Equestrian Park.  Sorry, we didn't identify an artifact of the day. 


September 19 Denise, Linda, and Carol continued cataloging (or getting artifacts ready to be catalogued).   We chose this late nineteenth century scalloped rim sherd as the artifact of the day. 
Claudia, Elsie, Mary, and Peggy worked on bagging artifacts in the drying screens in Burch House and moving the artifacts to secure locations.  Charles County Tourism has approved an event this coming Saturday, and it is unclear whether or not people will be in Burch House and the Courthouse.


September 12 we all worked upstairs in the Courthouse.  Denise, Peggy, and Carol continued cataloging with Peggy and Carol cataloging lots of animal bone fragments.  To help with the cataloging of one lot  (BF1 BF) with multiple large bags of artifacts Elsie and Claudia started sorting the artifacts in the bags.  And they chose this tin-glazed ointment jar rim fragment as the artifact of the day.  The jar was probably decorated with purple manganese powder.  The glaze appears to have been burned.  There was also this blackened glaze on the interior of the fragment.

August 22 Elsie, Claudia, Malinda, and Mary went to Burch House to sort, bag, and wash artifacts.  Linda and Carol stayed at the Courthouse and continued to catalog while Peggy worked on setting up another desktop setup so we could have a third cataloging station.  We did chose an artifact of the day- three pieces of Chinese porcelain with overglazed gold decoration,  The gold was over black lines that we thought might be branches on a tree or else roads or (?).  These pieces were from Port Tobacco Area B Feature 1.



August 15 Linda, Denise, Claudia, Elsie, Peggy and Carol were at the Lab and we remembered to choose an artifact for the day!  Actually Elsie and Claudia who were washing, sorting, and bagging artifacts at Burch House in the afternoon chose this somewhat corroded faucet as the artifact of the day.  We could make out "NEW YORK" and "No 3".  It had been recovered from PSA.  We haven't found any documentation indicating where that was in Port Tobacco, at least not yet.  Linda and Carol continued to catalog while Denise and Peggy got to do something special.
Actually the day started with Esther going over the sites that we had found August 1 at Maxwell Hall Equestrian Park, and then going through one site form she had created and submitted updating information for one of the sites.  She indicated where she found the information needed to fill out the form.  Since she anticipated needing our help to fill out forms, in the afternoon she worked with Denise and Peggy as they filled out their first site form. 

August 8 Kathy, Malinda, Linda, Denise, Mary, and Elsie returned to the Lab.  The previous week we had been in the field at Maxwell Hall.  Esther had planned an activity but due to health precautions was unable to come.  Malinda and Kathy washed artifacts at Burch House, but not a lot else was accomplished. Our lunch was interrupted by visitors, and Linda gave them a tour of the Port Tobacco Village, even though the Village is not open on Monday.  Overall a pretty laid back day.

The field work at Maxwell Hall planned for July 25 was postponed until August 1.  So there was almost a full house at lab on July 25.  Elsie, Claudia, Malinda, and Kathy washed and sorted artifacts while Denise, Linda, Peggy, and Carol catalogued artifacts in the Courthouse.  Once again there are no photos.  Maybe next time.

July 18 was a slow day with only Denise, Carol, and Elsie working in the Courthouse.  Denise and Carol were cataloging, and Elsie moved artifacts into new boxes and worked with Esther to assign Lot numbers to the bags with artifacts that had recently been washed.  Sorry no photos and no artifact of the day.  As I said it was a slow day.

Monday July 11 Denise, Elsie, Malinda, Kathy, Mary, Pat, Carol, and Ned returned to the Monday Lab.  Activities varied throughout the day.   First Kathy and Malinda brushed iron artifacts outside on the picnic tables at Burch House while the others went into the Courthouse attic to retrieve additional artifacts (lots of bags of animal bones) to be washed.  Then Denise and Carol catalogued while the others washed the retrieved artifacts.  
There were two highlights of the day - First, Denise brought the CCASM hats and shirts that had been ordered, and we got to see them for the first time.
And Ned brought several wooden artifacts for show and tell, and he also told us what the artifacts told about the construction of the building from which they had come.  We choose those artifacts as the Artifacts of the Day.  These architectural artifacts came from his ancestor's house built in the early nineteenth century.  The house had been converted to a barn in the late nineteenth century and has since been torn down.  There was an oak treenail and some split oak house siding as well as several chestnut pieces. Rather than trying to describe them, here are some photos.  

Support Structure
Oak Treenail
Saw marks on Chestnut

Artifacts from House/Barn


2022 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Feb-Jun)
2021 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Mar-Dec)
2020 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Sep-Dec)
2020 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-Mar)
2019 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jul-Dec)
2019 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-June)
2018 Public Archaeology Lab Days (July-Dec)
2018 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-June)
2017 Public Archaeology Lab Days (July-Dec)
2017 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-June)
2016 Public Archaeology Lab Days (July-Dec)
2016 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-June)
2015 Public Archaeology Lab Days

December 5, 2022

2022 Charles County Holiday Tour

Burch House
On December 3 and 4 CCASM hosted visitors at Burch House in historic Port Tobacco during the 2022 Charles County Holiday Tour.  Historic homes, churches, and cultural venues throughout the County participated in this free event.

At least twenty groups of people (mostly on Sunday afternoon when the weather was nicer) came by Burch House this year to hear about this eighteenth-century house and about one of its owners and residents, Washington Burch.  And no visit to Burch House is complete without learning a little about archaeology in Port Tobacco.  There was hot cider, home-baked cookies and coffee cake, chocolates, and even an activity for children.  (It's easy to forget to take pictures when you are interacting with visitors, but we did remember to take a few.)

Visitors Looking at Artifacts
Mary at the Food Table

CCASM members decorated Burch House simply for the holidays in keeping with the house.  There was a lot of greenery and two trees - one decorated with crocheted ornaments and one with paper ornaments.  Visitors also noticed that the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco had updated the kitchen that included washing and ironing objects that could have been used by the Burchs.

Paper Ornament Tree

 
Kitchen Hearth

 
Crocheted Ornament
Tree

   
Thanks to Elsie, Denise, Pat, Peggy, and Carol for being there to talk with the visitors.  And a special thanks to Mary who was in charge of the baked goods, hot cider, and everything else needed to enjoy them.

November 22, 2022

Fieldwork for Village of Port Tobacco Green Parking Lot

CCASM members along with other volunteers will be working with Charles County Archaeologist Esther Reed to survey land on which the Village of Port Tobacco plans to build a "green" parking area.  The parking area will allow visitors to more easily access the the Port Tobacco Village Agricultural Heritage Museum as well as the nearby One-Room School House.  The Village has applied for a Southern Maryland Heritage grant to help fund this. 

The survey will involve digging STPs on the proposed site for the parking area.  The site is on Chapel Point Road between the One-Room School House /Causeway Road and Murphy's Store (map).   We refer to the site as the Port Tobacco Barn site.

Upcoming dates are TBD

Tuesday November 22 CCASM members Elsie and Steve along with James and Wes volunteered with Esther to retrieve additional metal artifacts from the blacksmith area.  Wes who was surveying the site also helped by sighting in the location of the exposed building footprint as well as the the loci used to determine the location of the STPS.
 
On Monday November 21 CCASM members Denise, Joe, Mary, Gary, Elsie, Ned, and Steve along with James volunteered with Esther to excavate part of the footprint of the building, to excavate and screen a 17'x4' area referred to as 'above the forge' and to continue to retrieve metal and other artifacts found on the surface.

Around November 15 the Village had the woods to the north bulldozed to remove the trees so that the green parking lot could be built there.  In an area that the brush was so thick that we had not been able to penetrate it, the bulldozer uncovered a building that could have been a blacksmith shop - lots of metal.  

 

 

Wednesday November 9 CCASM members Mary, Gary, and Ned volunteered with Esther to continue to dig STPS in the woods.  We had to cut paths through the underbrush in order to reach the areas where the SPTS were to be dug. 

Monday November 7 CCASM members Pat, Denise, Mary, Ned, and Elsie started digging STPs in the woods on the northern part of the site while Carol worked with Esther to measure location of key flags relative to the the east and west corners of the corn crib.  The most interesting thing we found was a label that is probably for a bottle of mirage perfumed oils.  The language is Farsi.  It was  on the surface.

Monday October 31 CCASM members Elsie, Pat Ned, Denise, Carol, and Evelyn were joined by James to volunteer with Esther on continuing to dig STPS.  Ned, Pat, and Elsie spent all morning competing their STP that was dug by levels while the rest completed all the STP locations flagged in the grassy area.  Since a couple of the STPs next to the woods contained early eighteenth century ceramics (not that much, but still...), additional STP locations were flagged in the woods by Elsie, Ned, and Esther.

Sunday October 30 CCASM members Elsie, Pat Ned, Peggy, Carol, and Evelyn were joined by Tim to volunteer with Esther on continuing to dig STPS.  And we even choose an artifact of the day - this small sherd of early eighteenth century scratch blue white salt glazed stoneware.  We've found a few other small interesting artifacts, but this is the first we decided to share.



Saturday October 29 CCASM members Elsie, Denise, Joe, Ned, Peggy, Carol, and Evelyn (who drove up from South Carolina) were joined by Tim to volunteer with Esther on continuing to dig STPS.


Monday October 24 CCASM members Linda, Elsie, Denise, Ned, Pat, Steve, and Carol were joined by Malinda and James to start the survey of the area to the north of the corn crib.  Esther Reed is the principal investigator.


STPs were to be dug at 25' intervals, and the locations were flagged.  We were able to dig about seventeen STPs, and they were all at least two feet deep.  This is an area where there could be soil deposits from a nearby flooded creek as well as soil eroded from the nearby hills.  It is an area where there could have been Portobaco Indians.  This was also part of the 1729 Charles Town also known as Portabaco and of the earlier Chandlers Town.  We did find a few artifacts but nothing to indicate anything significant that would impact the development of the parking area.