May 11, 2021

May 13 CCASM Meeting

CCASM continues to have virtual meetings using Zoom at the same time (second Thursday of month at 7pm).  We miss seeing and talking with each other in person but realize this is the safest option for now.  

May 13, 2021 (7:00 PM)

Digging St. Clement's Manor:
The Early 17th-Century Manor House of Thomas Gerard

Join us to hear about archaeology related to Thomas Gerard's manor house that was located near the mouth of the Wicomico River. Thomas Gerard was a colorful figure in 17th-century Maryland, a Catholic who built his Protestant wife a chapel, a friend of Lord Baltimore who went on to attempt an overthrow of Baltimore's government, and one of the wealthiest men in early Maryland.

Julia King

Professor of Anthropology, St. Mary's College of Maryland

The talk will be followed by the CCASM Annual Business Meeting.

The link for the CCASM meeting(s) will be e-mailed to members as well as to others on request (contact us at  

If you have never used Zoom before, you can use the link to test your connection.  We recommend doing this ahead of time so you can become familiar with some of the options (like video, audio, participant, ...)

2021 ASM Field Session

The Archaeological Society of Maryland, Inc (ASM) in cooperation with Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) will be at The Billingsley Site in Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County Maryland May 28- June 8 for its 2021 Field Session.

The usual work day begins at 8:30 am.
Things to bring include mask, drinking water, bug spray, sun screen, hat, rain gear, work gloves, your lunch, and a folding chair for lunch time.

The Field Session is to introduce lay persons to archeological methods and to teach Maryland's past through hands-on involvement while making meaningful contributions to the study of Maryland archeology.  Survey, excavation, feature definition, and lab work will be taking place on site.

There will not be an Almost-End-of-the-Session Cookout this year. 

Click to download Registration Form, Waiver Form, and Pre-Event Medical Screening Checklist.  The first two must be mailed in to preregister.  This year you must preregister and only fifty people are allowed on site each day.  You will receive an e-mail confirmation. Payment is to be paid at the site.  (You need to read all the information on the Registration Form.)

Cost -  ASM Member                              $20/day  (maximum $60)
            ASM School Chapter Member    $10/day  (maximum $30)
            Student (under 18)                         $5/day  (maximum  $15)  (either ASM or non-ASM)
            Non-ASM Member                     $25/day  (maximum  $75)

The Billingsley Site (18PR9) dates to the prehistoric and contact periods.  It is depicted on Augustine Herrman's 1670 map as a Native American village named Wighkamameck.  The site is also mentioned in the Proceedings of the Maryland Assembly on May 23, 1674, as the last known home of the Patuxent Indians.  

Directions to the site from Charles County: (map)
Take US-301 North.
From US-301 turn right onto Maude Savoy Brown Road / WSSC Treatment Plant Road (about 3 miles above Bojangles and before MD-4.)  In 1.2 mi turn left into WSSC Treatment Plant.  Drive up to the gate and personnel will be alerted to open the gate.  Continue through Plant and turn right on Green Landing Road (following the signs to Billingsley House).  There should be signs indicating directions to parking and the site.

Limited primitive camping is available.  Please contact Charlie Hall ( to reserve a tent spot. 
Some of the nearby hotels are:
--Comfort Inn Conference Center Bowie, 4500 Crain Hwy., Bowie, 20716.301-464-0089
--Hampton Inn Bowie, 15202 Major Lansdale Blvd, Bowie, 20716.301-809-1800
--Sleep Inn & Suites Near Joint Base Andrews, 9310 Marlboro Pike, Upper Marlboro.20772 301-599-9400  

CCASM is a chapter of ASM.

2021 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Mar-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.

Health precautions:  Following guidelines for Charles County Phase 3 reopening.
Masks required.  Social distancing maintained.    (Wipes, hand sanitizers, ... provided by County.)

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

Next dates: 
       Monday,   May  17  (11am - 3:30pm)
       Monday,   May  24  (11am - 3:30pm)
       Monday,   May  31  (11am - 3:30pm)

On May 10 Linda and Carol worked on artifacts at the Courthouse while Denise and Elsie washed artifacts at Burch House.  Denise and Elsie chose the base of this ceramic figure as the artifact of the day.  All that can be made out is what looks like part of a basket .  The original bag indicated it was a pa____ figure.  Need to do more research.
We had planned to be in the field at Rich Hill on May 3.  But there was a little rain early on, and the forecast indicated the chance for rain was 50+%.  So the field work was postponed.  After a discussion of upcoming events and what we planned to do, we stopped for lunch and returned to the lab in the afternoon.  Denise and Carol continued cataloguing in the Courthouse.  Elsie, Mary, and Esther continued working in the Burch House Attic.  Once again Julie who was washing artifacts at Burch House came up with the artifact of the day - this jasperware rim. 
Thanks to Julie for the photo.

Historic Port Tobacco Village is opening up in May, and tours will start April 29.  So on April 26 Elsie, Linda, Mary, Denise, and Carol helped get Burch House ready for tours.  This also included setting up the Archaeology Lab displays in the back room.  We forgot all about taking photos.

Button Covers - Top
Button Covers - Reverse
On March 19 Elsie, Denise, Julie, Carol, and Esther once again were in the Archaeology Lab in Port Tobacco.  We continued with activities in both the Courthouse and Burch House.  Denise and Esther brought down additional artifacts from the Courthouse attic.  So there will be plenty of artifacts to wash at Burch House next week.  Toward the end of the day Denise and Carol were able to start cataloging artifacts again.  And they chose these artifacts of the day -- copper alloy button covers.
glass vial base
On March 29 after several months of being away, we returned to the Public Archaeology Lab.  Although we had been together in the field on several days this year, this was the first time in the lab.   Elsie and Mary worked in the Burch House attic to transfer artifacts into corrugated plastic boxes.  All the cardboard boxes needed to be removed from Burch House to help reduce the possibility of mold.  Linda and Carol worked on the Courthouse second floor trying to organize the additional artifacts that Esther brought over from Burch House.  They also made a new bottle of 10% B-72 in acetone that will be used to label the artifacts.  Julie was on the first floor of Burch House washing artifacts - one of our normal activates.  So it was Julie that selected our artifact of the day - the base of an olive green eighteenth century vial.

Putting new boxes
Transferring artifacts
to new boxes
Pointing out bottle of
10% B-72 made today

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

April 26, 2021

2021 April is Maryland Archaeology Month

The theme for this year's Maryland Archaeology Month is quite timely -- The Archaeology of Healing and Medicine.  Due to the pandemic the Workshop in Archeology that is normally held in March will be held in the fall.  But the Annual ASM Spring Symposium is still on and will be held virtually.  Also a number of webinars have been planned for April. 

Check out the new website
It has information about the 2021 Maryland Archaeology Month -events, articles including a downloadable booklet, sponsors, and volunteer opportunities.  There is also an archive with themes and booklets from previous Maryland Archaeology Months.  

Here is a quick look at some of what is happening --

The Archaeology of Healing and Medicine
Download 2021 Maryland Archeology Month Booklet
Interviews with Booklet Authors

On-line Webinars and Meetings during April

  • Tuesday, April 6 (7pm-8:05pm)
    Digging History: Screening with Q&A: Archaeological Discoveries at the Hagerstown Jonathan Street Cabin
    Panelists: Nicholas Redding, Preservation Maryland; Reggie Turner, Western Maryland CDC; Dr. Julie Schablitsky, State Highway Administration; Amy Oden, Maryland Public Television
    For more info and to register  (Preservation Maryland, MDOT/SHA, MPT, Western Maryland CDC)  

  • Thursday, April 8 (1pm-2pm) 
    Lunch and Learn: Recent Archeological Discoveries at Maryland's First Colonial Capital
    Speaker: Travis G. Parno, Director of Research and Collections, Historic St. Mary’s City
    For more info and to register  (Maryland State Archives in collaboration with The Enoch Pratt Free Library and The Maryland Four Centuries Project)

  • Thursday, April 8 (7pm-8:30pm)
    An Interesting Prince Georges County Cemetery (Simon Hill)
    Speaker: Aaron Levinthal, SHA Constultant Archaeologist
    For more info
    Contact to receive a link to the Zoom meeting.  (Charles County Archaeological Society of Maryland, Inc)  

  • Thursday, April 8 (7pm-8:30pm)
    How Do I Get a Job in Archeology These Days?
    Join a panel of young professionals currently working in the field.  For more info
    To register  (hosted by University of Maryland for Council for Maryland Archaeology)  

  • Thursday, April 15 (12pm-1pm) 
    Rockville Students Excavate the Riggs House
    Speaker: RMHS teacher Bob Hines, Richard Montgomery High School students, and others
    For more info  
    Youtube link (Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation Ltd.)

  • Thursday, April 15 (1pm-2:30pm) 
    Finding Common Ground: Can Relic Hunters and Archaeologists Work Together?
    Join a panel of archaeologists and avocationalists for a civil conversation about positive ways to discover the marvels of the past.   For more info
    To register  (hosted by Preservation Maryland for Council for Maryland Archaeology)

  • Thursday, April 15 (7pm-8pm) 
    Unearthing St. Mary’s Fort, the Founding Site of the Maryland Colony.
    Speaker: Travis G. Parno, Director of Research and Collections, Historic St. Mary’s City
    For more info and Youtube link  (Historic St Mary's City)

  • Saturday, April 17 (9am-120pm) 
    55th Annual ASM Spring Symposium
    For more info and to register  (Archeology Society of Maryland, Inc) 

  • Thursday, April 22 (2pm-3pm) 
    The Archaeology of Healing and Medicine
    Join a panel of archaeologists to learn about their fascinating discoveries and stories.  For more info
    To register  (hosted by Maryland Histoic Trust for Council for Maryland Archaeology) 

  • Monday, April 26 (7pm-8pm) 
    Archaeology of New York State Cheese Factories (1860s-1890s)
    (not Maryland archaeology but talk by a Maryland Archaeologist)
    Speaker: James G Gibb. 
    For more info and to register  (St Mary's County Lecture Series, St Mary's Chapter of ASM) 

  • Thursday, April 29 (7pm-8:45pm) 
    Tracing Piscataway Indian History into the 20th Century: Connecting Past and Present
    Join archaeologists Julia A. King and Scott M. Strickland and Piscataway Conoy Tribal Chair Francis Gray as they describe making these links for the Piscataway and the importance of the American Indian Movement to these efforts.
    For more info and to register  (hosted by St Mary's College of Maryland) 

April 18, 2021

2021 ASM Spring Symposium

Saturday April 19 the Archeological Society of Maryland held its 55th Annual Spring Symposium.  It was only a half day, and it was via Zoom, but it was good that we were able to "meet" this year.  The meeting was recorded.

The talks at the Symposium included

  • Archaeology of the Ship Caulkers' Houses at Fell's Point
    Lisa Krauss and Jason Shellenhamer
  • ASM Student Spotlight
    Comparing Caribbean plantation landscapes and Chesapeake plantations in their setup and use of space
    Rebecca Davis
  • The Iris McGillivray Memorial Lecture
    Some St. Mary's City Research
    Henry M. Miller
  • The Richard E Stearns Memorial Lecture   
    Meadowcroft Rock Shelter: Retrospect 2021
    James M. Adovasio

CCASM members "attending" included Denise, Carol, and Elsie.

CCASM is a chapter of ASM.

April 16, 2021

April declared Charles County Archaeology Month (2021)

Once again the Charles County Commissioners proclaimed the month of April as Archaeology Month in Charles County (to coincide with Maryland Archaeology Month).  The proclamation sites the rich history and heritage of Charles County, exemplified by historic buildings, cultural landmarks, natural features, and local rituals.  It also recognizes that the county is enhanced by historic preservation associations, groups, and professionals who donate countless hours and dollars to preserve that history. 

CCASM would like to thank the Commissioners for recognizing the importance of archaeology in Charles County.  2021 is the second year the presentation of the Proclamation could not be made in person. 

April 13, 2021

In the Field at Maxwell Hall Park

Monday April 12 Esther, Elsie, Denise, Mary, Julie, and Carol returned to Maxwell Hall Park.  This time it was to start looking for clues indicating previous occupations - Native American or historic.  There had been a seventeenth century plantation house somewhere in this area.  Although there are equestrian and hiking trails in the park, we were looking at areas off the beaten path.  This resulted in a five mile hike through the woods on which fire-cracked rocks, debitage, and bricks were encountered. 

Looking at the lidar map for the area
Walking beside an old sunken road

Monday March 15 was another beautiful day for being in the field --this time to document the ruins of an old house (early 20th C?) at Maxwell Hall Park as well as the features near the ruins.   Esther Read, County Archaeologist, along with CCASM volunteers Denise, Mary, Elsie, and Carol recorded data on graph paper for several features.  In the afternoon Denise and Mary learned how to do a triangulation survey between the main features so that Esther could create a composite map of the site.
Checking out the foundation
Measuring the hole
next to the well
Measuring the foundation

Thanks to Carol and Esther for the pictures.

April 10, 2021

An Interesting Prince George's County Cemetery Project

Aaron Levinthal
At the April 8 CCASM Zoom meeting Aaron Levinthal told how the State Highway Department relocated graves from an abandoned late 19th through mid-20th century African American cemetery known as Simon Hill.  These graves were not supposed to have been there.  Years ago the St. Paul Baptist Church had paid to have the graves relocated.  In the intervening years trees had grown on the property, but there was evidence that some graves still remained.

Aaron related how they recovered over forty full burials and over twenty partial burials from the site.  From the beginning the project included public outreach and cooperation with a congregation and descendant community.  One of the burials that was encased in a metal vault contained a woman.  Historical and genealogical research and subsequent DNA testing identified this woman.  The remains of all the burials were reburied in Maryland National Memorial Cemetery.

There are four MPT videos on "The Dig: A Maryland Mystery Lady" that tells about this project.  Here are the links to Part One  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4.

Aaron Levinthal is a Consultant Archaeologist with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration.

A snapshot of those listening to the talk -

Attendance: 10

March 22, 2021

Looking for Graves at Rich Hill

On Monday March 22 Linda, Denise, Elsie, and Carol along with Esther Read were back in the field at Rich Hill.  Again it was a great day to be outside and to socially distance with each other.   Although it wasn't what we had planned to do, we checked out another part of the property looking for the lost eighteenth century grave of Dr Gustavus Brown, Sr.  Then Elsie came upon some periwinkle (vinca major) - a lot of periwinkle.  In the past periwinkle was planted on graves to provide a ground cover.  So finding periwinkle often indicates the presence of graves.  Even if this does not turn out to be the location of Dr. Brown's grave, it is almost certainly the location of other graves.  Although we searched for depressions or possible stones marking graves, we didn't find anything this time.

Looking for graveyard

Periwinkle at site

Looking for indication
of graves in areas with periwinkle

March 14, 2021

Archaeology During Covid: What We Did This Past Year

Esther Doyle Read

At the March 11 CCASM Zoom meeting Esther Read's topic was "Archaeology During Covid: What We Did This Past Year".  The "We" refers to Esther at Charles County Planning and Growth Management and the members of CCASM who volunteer for archaeological projects in the County.  Due to Covid, volunteer activities stopped in March and did not restart until September after Charles County had gone to Phase 3. 

During Covid Esther continued to do reviews for new developments and described a mystery in a graveyard (that wasn't) in Ravensburg.  She also brought us up to date on historical research on Henrietta Burch, the wife of Washington Burch who owned Burch House in Port Tobacco after the Civil War.  And, of course, Esther gave an overview of the projects on which CCASM members have volunteered -- Monday Archaeology Lab, Alexandria Cemetery, and Rich Hill.  

But Esther didn't stop with work from last year.  She also gave an overview of the recent Maxwell Hall geophysical survey with which several CCASM members helped as well as telling us about upcoming plans for field work near Maxwell Hall Park.

Esther Doyle Read is the County Archaeologist for Charles County Planning and Growth Management and an adjunct professor in the Ancient Studies Department at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

A snapshot of those listening to the talk -

Attendance: 16