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June 24, 2022

2022 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Feb-Jun)

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,  June 27  ( 10:30am - 3:30pm) in field Maxwell Hall Equestrian Park (weather permitting)
       Monday,  July 4  ( 11am - 3:30pm) Holiday, No Lab
       Monday,  July 11 ( 11am - 3:30pm)

It seems June was the month for taking vacations and doing other things.  Even so Denise, Claudia. Peggy, and Linda joined Esther in the lab on June 13.  Sorry we didn't pick an artifact of the day.

Fire Cracked Rock
On June 6 Claudia, Denise, Mary, Kathy, Malinda, Peggy, and Carol all worked outside Burch House on the picnic tables.  We sorted and bagged artifacts - some from the 1970 excavations and some from the STPs we had dug on May 9 north of the Port Tobacco Courthouse.  The artifact for the day came from the later and was a fire cracked rock.  Native Americans heated stones and put them in vessels containing liquids in order to heat up the liquids.  The heating and cooling of the stones could cause them to crack.  Thus fire cracked rocks indicate Native Americans were in the area.

On May 23 once again we split up.  On the picnic tables outside Burch House Malinda and Kathy continued to wash the artifacts from the STPs.  Inside Burch House Claudia and Elsie sorted and bagged - Claudia working on the STP artifacts while Else worked on the artifacts we had washed at PT Market Day.  While over at the Courthouse, Linda and Carol continued cataloging the BF1 artifacts, and they chose the artifact of the day.  They chose this piece of sprig molding from a stoneware vessel.  We just happened to have Sherry and Hood's book Salt-Glazed Stoneware in Early America in the lab, and the sprig fragment looked like part of the crown in a photo of a Westerwald "GR" stoneware jug.

Sprig Molding
Photo excerpt: Sherry and Hood,
Salt-Glazed Stoneware in Early America

On May 16 Elsie, Malinda, Mary, Peggy, and Carol washed most of the artifacts recovered from the STPs dug on the previous Monday.  The majority of the artifacts were brick fragments, but we did recover this one unusual artifact that we decided to post as the artifact of the day in hopes someone might be able to identify it.  It is tube-like and mostly metal with pieces of rubber coming out one end.  While the others were washing, Linda dry brushed any nails or metal objects as well as some mortar.  She also tackled a bag of rusty metal artifacts recovered around 1970 that had been in the lab for months just waiting to be processed.  We ended up stopping early in anticipation of bad weather.

Two-tine Fork with Bone Handle

On May 2 we returned to the lab.  In the morning Elsie, Linda, Malinda, Kathy, and Claudia continued sorting and bagging artifacts at Burch House. Elsie and Denise brought down some more artifacts from the Courthouse attic. Carol joined them in stabilizing these artifacts.  After years in the attic plastic bags tend to fall apart, and it is important to put the contents in newer bags until the artifacts can be processed.  It's from these artifacts that we found the artifact of the day - a two-tine fork with a bone handle.  And it still had it provenience - Area B, Feature 1, Unit 2, Level 4. (Note: this is one level above April 18's toothbrush.)
In the afternoon we all joined Esther to check out the area north of the Courthouse and look at what had and had not been investigated.

Bone Toothbrush
Fragments (top /bottom)
On April 18 Polly, a visitor, joined Malinda, Kathy, and Mary as they all sorted and bagged artifacts at Burch House while Linda, Denise, and Carol cataloged artifacts at the Courthouse.  This is the first day that we used all three cataloging computers.  We chose these fragments from the head of a bone toothbrush that had been recovered from BF1, Unit2, Level 5 as the artifact of the day.  The two pieces on the left show the holes on the top where the bristles would have been.  The two pieces on the right show the slits on the back for the wire that was used to pull the bristles into the holes.  For a better idea of what the toothbrush would have looked like, visit JPPM's Diagnostic web page https://apps.jefpat.maryland.gov/diagnostic/SmallFinds/Toothbrushes/index-BoneHandledToothbrushes.html .

Wine Bottle Finishes
with String Rims

April 11 was somewhat of a slow day.  Denise, Linda, and Carol catalogued Port Tobacco artifacts.  We chose these three bottle finishes with string rims as the "artifact of the day".  These are from wine bottles made in the early eighteenth century, but the three different string rims (flat, v-tooled, rounded) are associated with different manufacture dates. They were found in a large bag of patinated olive green bottle fragments recovered from BF1, Unit 5, Level 5.

On Monday April 4 a proposed day in the field had to be postponed.  At the Courthouse Denise and Carol organized and also catalogued artifacts while Peggy connected the printer to two computers after loading the printer driver.  Elsie and Claudia continued sorting and bagging artifacts at Burch House, and they came up with several artifacts to be the artifact of the day.  We decided to chose two that were made centuries apart.  One is a Staffordshire-Type Slipware rim fragment from the early eighteenth century while the other is part of the base of  a cup with a pressed glass pattern probably from the late nineteenth century.  Thanks to Claudia for the photos.

Staffodshire-Type Slipware
Pressed Glass Pattern

Monday March 28 was a busy day.  Elsie, Claudia, Malinda, and Kathy were at Burch House sorting and bagging the artifacts in the drying screens.  The previous week they had filled all the screens so the screens had to be cleared before more artifacts could be washed.  Denise, Linda, Mary, Peggy, and Carol were upstairs at the Courthouse.  Denise and Linda continued trying to organize the non-BF artifacts.  All the different designations are a little confusing.  Peggy worked on connecting and checking out two of the workstations while Mary and Carol catalogued artifacts.  We came up with a couple of possible artifacts of the day but ended up choosing this pig mandible fragment that still had almost all of its teeth as well as its tusk.

Pig Mandible with Teeth

Monday March 21 Peggy, Claudia, Malinda, and Kathy washed or dry brushed artifacts at Burch House while Elsie bagged artifacts that had been washed the previous week.  Meanwhile at the Courthouse Linda and Denise sorted boxes and artifacts in preparation for cataloging them.  Claudia came up with  a number of possible artifacts of the day, but we selected this printing block.  Unfortunately we didn't have as much luck trying to read it as we did for the block we found last August.  Even so, it is interesting.  It appears to be a legal notice.

Printing Block
Mirror Image of Printing Block
Discernible Letters

Also in the afternoon Malinda, Elsie, and Esther started doing a deed search on Malinda's property where last Wednesday they had located a previously unrecorded cemetery.
(Thanks to Elsie for the info and Claudia for the photo.)

On Monday March 14 the lab started getting back to normal.  Peggy, Mary, Malinda, and Ned were joined by Kathy (Visiting from DC) to wash Port Tobacco artifacts at Burch House.  Everyone really liked the new drying screens were.  (The screens had been built by Doug, also a CCASM member.)  Back at the Courthouse Linda, Denise, and Carol tried to set up three computer stations.  There was a lot of trouble with one station until Esther took off the cover (and jiggled a video board).  In the afternoon Denise, Ned, Linda, and Carol once again started cataloging again.  Sorry no artifact of the day. 
(Thanks to Elsie for photo of screens.)

New drying screens being used for the first time

The lab on Monday March 7 was a little different.  Not only had it been several months since we had cataloged Port Tobacco artifacts, the lab had been moved about so the ceiling could be painted.  So Elsie, Denise, Linda, Ned, Claudia, and Malinda checked on the artifacts that needed cataloging, set up computers, and tried to make sense of it all.  Also the lab had a belated pot luck holiday party with Esther bringing pizza and everyone else contributing deserts, salads, drinks, etc.

On Monday February 28 the Charles County Lab started up again.  The lab had been on hiatus for a couple of months while CCASM members and other volunteers processed artifacts for a special ASM project.  Although we were ready to return to processing Port Tobacco artifacts. on this first day we were not in the lab but outside.  It was a nice day to be outside.  Elsie, Mary, Denise, Ned, Peggy, Claudia, Carol, and Malinda (a new volunteer) joined Esther Read to check out the land along the Port Tobacco Creek where there had once been a canal.  Esther was checking out the area for the possibility of Charles County creating a walking path there.  While we were walking, Linda was holding down the lab back at the Courthouse.

Clearing the Way
Walking along the Berm

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

June 21, 2022

Volunteering with Dr. Julia King at St Clements Island

Arriving at St Clements Island

Dr. Julie King, Anthropology Professor at St Mary's College of Maryland, invited CCASM members to volunteer with her and her student crew as they investigated St Clements Island looking for evidence of the Native American site that was there in 1997.  The site was identified before DNR built the lighthouse in 2008.  Initially this involved STPs but later it also included test units.  Native American ceramics found in 1997 include Townsend, Yeocomico, and Camden. 

View of Island from Water Taxi

Getting to the site involved a water taxi ride from the St Clement's Island Museum.  The water taxi landing on the island could vary from the schedule depending on the wind and the weather. 

Monday June 20 was the last day at the site, and once again Ned volunteered.  Here are Ned's notes for the day.|
This Monday, the water taxi captain was about a half-hour late arriving, but it was a beautiful morning as we sat on the dock, so no one cared.  We were told he would pick us up eventually.  The entire six-person college crew plus a volunteer, Isobel, from St. Mary’s College got busy completing the remaining shovel test pits.  Isobel and I completed three STPs.  All were dug and sifted by 11 a.m.  Megan and Travis documented what had been bagged along with the soil colors, etc.  Isobel volunteered to help count the hundreds of oyster flakes from some of the STPs.  I told them to have fun counting.  I walked to the north end of the island and back using both of the paths.  By 11:30, we had carried all of the equipment out to the end of the dock before having our lunch under the gazebo.  The water taxi arrived before 1 p.m. Because the tide was going out, the three large sifting units had to be left behind on the island until high tide at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. The sifting units barely fit through the water taxi’s step area, and couldn’t be loaded or unloaded when the boat was well below the level of the dock. All of the other tools and storage cabinets were taken back to Colton’s Point and loaded into the college van.

Counting Shells
Leaving the Island

On Thursday June 16 two CCASM volunteers - Mary and Ned --showed up.  Unfortunately no one could get to the island.  Due to the weather, the water taxi captain indicated it was not safe to take the boat out on the water.

For Wednesday June 15 here are Ned's notes for the day.
Because the two test units had thousands of tiny oyster shell pieces to collect, Julie decided against digging a third unit.  Instead she and Travis selected 17 more STP locations, and we dug about half today.  (I dug 4.)  Will finish them tomorrow unless it rains too much.  These new ones are around the cross.  Plan is to leave the island next week.  Julie was pleased that ceramics were found in sufficient quantity.

Tuesday June 14 Ned volunteered again,  Here are his notes about this day -
Tuesday could have been rained out, but it was a mostly nice day. No breeze in the morning as we started a second test unit.  We almost had too much breeze by afternoon as the day shades came close to blowing away.  Travis found a small quartz scraper.  We were also finding what Travis thought were tiny bits of ceramics.  Again, we bagged thousands of oyster shells and very tiny oyster shell flakes.  Will be bagging more oyster shell flakes on Wednesday.

Lots of small
shell fragments
Digging Test Unit

Monday June 13 Ned was the only CCASM volunteer.  Here are his notes about the day -
On Monday I arrived before 7:30 a.m.  Dr. King arrived at 7:45.  I helped her unload three sifting stations and surveying instruments. The grad students arrived just before 8 a.m.  Spent the morning and half the afternoon finishing digging the last of the STPs.  I dug 5.5 STPs.  Got complimented on my straight-sided, flat bottomed STPs.  Had to rest some around 2 p.m. while they started the first test unit.  After Dr. King had to answer phone calls, I helped sift and collect what were mostly hundreds of oyster shell flakes, many barely 3/8” in diameter. The water taxi was delayed until 3:30 p.m. All of us were very tired, very sweaty, and very dirty. Got home, put dirty clothes in washer, and took a cold shower to cool down. Face was burning.

On Thursday June 9 Carol volunteered for part of a day with Dr Julie King and her student crew.  Due to the rough water, the water taxi had to land on the side closest to the Museum. The site was on the other side of the island - an easy fifteen-minute walk.  If the water hadn't been so rough, the water taxi would have landed next to the site.  Carol mainly worked with Laura on STPs, but there were five others in the crew including Megan who was the field supervisor.  We were mainly finding shell fragments but also found a few lithics.  STPS are important for telling us where things are but also where they aren't.   There should be additional opportunities to volunteer when they start doing test units.

STPs (June 9)
Julia King with Megan

June 2, 2022

2022 Annual Field Session

The Archaeological Society of Maryland, Inc (ASM) in cooperation with the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) held their 51th Field Session May 20 through May 30 at the Barwick's Ordinary Site in Denton, Maryland (Caroline County)  This Field Session also coincided with the first week of Washington College's Field School at the site.  Dr. Julie Markin, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Washington College, was the principal investigator.

Matt McKnight and Julie Markin

The Barwick's Ordinary Site (18CA261) consists of the remains of the mid to late 18th-century tavern and home of James Barwick.  Historic deeds relate that a "complex" consisting of a tobacco warehouse, storehouse, apple orchard, ferry landing, and tavern/ordinary was situated at this location along the Choptank River.  This complex served as the first county seat of Caroline County, and James Barwick was employed as its caretaker. 

Previous geophysical surveys by MHT and ground truthing by Washington College and ASM volunteers indicated that a well-preserved, artifact rich, mid-late 18th Century site was present.  During this Field Session the features associated with the large cellar feature and the possible privy as well as other possible features were investigated.  A lot of plow zone was screened.  Also STPs were dug on additional property belonging to the Smiths and their neighbor.  In addition to the lab tent on site, there was a lab in nearby Greensboro that came in handy the day the rains came. 

Barwick's Ordinary Site

The above photo doesn't reflect all the people who were on the site.  In addition to a large number of ASM volunteers, Washington College students, and other Field Session volunteers on the site,  every day there were additional people (families, friends of the property owners, Caroline County Commissioners, ...) who came by to see what was going on.  And some of them actually stayed and helped screen.   

Although  most of the artifacts recovered were historic, there were also some Native American artifacts recovered.  There were lots of other interesting artifacts recovered that I didn't photograph.

Whieldon Ware Plate Rim
exterior                       interior
possible Wolfe Neck ceramics

At least one CCASM member attended for multiple days.

CCASM is a chapter of ASM.

May 22, 2022

2022 Port Tobacco Market Day

On a hotter than normal Saturday and after having been rained out on a previous Saturday, the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco's Thirteenth Annual Market Day was held May 21 in Historic Port Tobacco Village.  As on all the previous Market Days CCASM had a tent at the event.  There were local craft vendors, the garden club plant sale, a white elephant sale, and tables for various "history-related" nonprofits.  And what would a market day outside a courthouse be without musicians?  There was even an area where you could get vaccinated. 

Market Day is always a great day for sharing information (both ways) about archaeology. 

CCASM put out its display highlighting some of the history of  Port Tobacco including some of the results from archaeology done at Port Tobacco around 2008.  We also had information relating to CCASM and Maryland Archaeology Month (even if it is no longer April).  A visit to the CCASM tent would not be complete without there being some activity.  Most years at Market Day our activity is washing artifacts.  This year the artifacts were glass fragments recovered from Port Tobacco Area B Feature 1 during the excavations done prior to the reconstruction of the Courthouse.

Start of day, waiting and washing

No longer waiting, but still washing

Thanks to Elsie, Linda, Peggy, and Carol for representing CCASM at the event.

May 15, 2022

Considering the Celestial Landscape (and new Board Members)

Patricia Samford

At the May 12 CCASM Zoom meeting Dr. Patricia Samford indicated what oral traditions and historical documents have revealed about ways enslaved individuals relied upon visual cues, especially celestial ones like the Big Dipper, for making their way through the landscape toward the north. 

She also discussed evidence from caches at six archaeological sites in Maryland that suggest the heavens, especially stars, had a special significance to enslaved individuals.  The first example was a cache of artifacts discovered in Charles County at the Hawksmoor Plantation, also know as Johnsontown, under a set of steps leading into the planter’s house from the kitchen.  The designs on one coin and two buttons included multiple five-pointed stars.  There were examples from other caches of astericks (possible representing six-pointed stars) on various objects.

Patricia Samford has been the Director of Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum (JPPM) for the past fifteen years.

Patricia reminded us that every year JPPM has a Public Archeology Program to give volunteers the opportunity to see what it is like to be an archaeologist and excavate an actual site.  This year they are investigating the Mellon Field that dates 1660-1680.  Volunteers can come for an hour and a day on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays during May through the first week in June. 


The CCASM Annual Business Meeting followed Tricia's talk.  In addition to reports by the officers, Denise provided the election results for the Officers and Board (June 2022 - May 2024): president- Carol Cowherd, vice president- Patricia Vazquez, secretary- Doug Zabel, treasurer- Elsie Picyk, additional board members- Mike Creveling and Peggy Knoernschild.  

A snapshot of some of those at the meetings -

 Attendance: 12 people

We would like to thank James Gibb for hosting the Zoom meeting. 

May 10, 2022

Fireldwork in Port Tobacco

Esther Read suggested we start investigating a small piece of wooded land in Port Tobacco that was next to a dropoff.  It was uncertain what would have been at that location, and there was no documentation of previous investigations on the site. 

So on Monday May 9 instead of having lab we gathered our equipment and went to the site.  After clearing off the fallen branches and debris that had been thrown on the site, we put in three STPs that we back-filled before we left.   We mostly found brick, mortar, and slate.  Of course, this is just the beginning.  There will need to be other STPs dug, but the artifacts recovered need to be processed and additional historical research is needed.

Volunteers included Malinda along with CCASM members Denise, Kathy, Linda, Ned, Peggy, and Carol.

May 2, 2022

CCASM Trip with Dr. Julia King

What better way to spend a beautiful spring day than to take a trip with Dr. Julia King.  On Saturday April 30, 2022 CCASM members Elsie, Mary, Pat, and Carol accompanied Julia King on a trip to three sites in the Northern Neck of Virginia.  Julie and her crew had done archaeological excavations at two of the sites - Leedstown and Fones Cliff.  Julie shared what the excavations had told about the sites while also telling some of the history.  Both sites are on the Rappahannock River, but Leedstown where you can launch a small boat has been occupied for over a thousand years, while at Fones Cliff fewer diagnostic American Indian artifacts were found.  The Rappahannock Tribe was there way before John Smith mapped the river. Artifacts indicating early colonial occupations were also found at both sites with a town and a church being at Leedstown.  All this as we walked the land. 

Mary, Elsie, Pat, and Julie
on the Leedstown shore

Brick floor with herringbone pattern
along with other eroding handmade bricks

Looking out over the Rappahannock from Fones Cliffs

After a really nice lunch at the Prince Street Cafe in Tappahannock, VA, we traveled to Menokin National Historic Landmark.  This site includes a small museum., a Remembrance Structure, and the ruins of Menokin-the home of Francis Lighthouse Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  The house is being restored in a unique manner.  Have you heard of the Glass House Project ?  Well, that is Menokin.  Parts of the missing exterior of the original will be replaced with architectural glass. Also inside the structure, glass will provide a catwalk and a transparent floor.  They have a way to go, but it is an interesting site.

Sam McKelvey answering our questions
about Menokin  (Carol, Elsie, Mary, Julie)
Menokin-Work In Progress

CCASM would like to thank Julie King for offering to do this.  It was really a great day.  Also we would like to thank Mary for driving.  Her SUV allowed us to ride together and continue our conversations as she drove to sites.
(Photos by Carol and Pat)

April 26, 2022

Return to Carroll Family Cemetery

At the request of Rev. Ruby Brown-Thomas we returned to the Carroll Family Cemetery off Poseytown Road in Nanjemoy.  Rev. Brown-Thomas is a minister at Mt Hope Missionary Baptist Church and has ancestors buried in the Cemetery.  A historic marker that included the cemetery had recently been placed nearby by the Charles County Commissioners, and there are plans to restore the farmhouse and mark the cemetery.

In October 2017 [Cemetry Volunteer Work] CCASM members and Esther Read identified, flagged, and documented over seventy unmarked graves in a wooded area that oral history indicated was a cemetery associated with the Carroll family and with the early Mt Hope Baptist Church.  Jim created the map showing the locations of the graves.

On April 26 CCASM members Elsie, Denise, Linda, Mary, Ned, Peggy, and Carol as well as volunteers Kathy and Antonio joined archaeologist Esther Read to make sure all the unmarked graves were still flagged and numbered.  Jim's map was a great help since some of the flags were missing and many of the flags no longer were numbered.  As you can see there was a thick layer of leaves on the site that had to be brushed away before we could see the impressions indicative of graves.

Looking for unmarked graves (flagged and unflagged)

About halfway through Rev. Ruby Brown-Thomas along with members of Mt Hope Church, members of the Carroll family, and a few CCASM members started adding the crosses made from PVC to the graves.  The white crosses really stood out. 
Adding crosses

Hear is a closer look at the volunteers verifying the flags and grave locations posing with Rev Brown-Thomas and William.  (Sorry I didn't get a photo of all those helping install the crosses.)

There are plans to enclose the cemetery with a fence and to add a sign. 

April 17, 2022

2022 ASM Spring Symposium

Saturday April 16 the Archeological Society of Maryland held its 56th Annual Spring Symposium at the Maryland Historical Trust in Crownsville, MD.  

The talks at the Symposium included 

  • Preservation and Education Underwater Archaeology Program at Virginia Department of Historical Resoures
    Brendan Burke

  • Barwick's Ordinary Site- An Exciting Collaboration Shedding Light on the Eastern Shore's Early Colonial History
    Dr. Julie Markin

  • The Richard E. Stearns Memorial Lecture
    Time, Topology, and Point Traditions in North Carolina Archeology

    I. Randolf Daniel Jr

  • An Overview of the Recent Research in New Netherland Archeology
    Craig Lukezic
    ag lunch, mingle with friends and visit silent auction
  • ASM Student Spotlight
    Refining Interpretations of the Conwingo Site (18CE14): Ground Stone Analysis of the Stearns Collection
    Cailete Rose
    , Towson University

  • Anglo-Native Interactions in 17th Century Maryland
    Scott Strickland

  • The Iris McGillivray Memorial Lecture
    A Comparison of White Clay Tobacco Pipes Recovered from Dutch and Haudenosaunee Sites, ca 1640-1710
    Dr. Michael Lucas

 The silent auction to raise money for the Lab Analysis Fund did raise over $500.  For the auction CCASM provided a point knapped and given us by Nate Salzman (Jefferson Paterson Park and Museum)

At least one CCASM member attended.

CCASM is a chapter of ASM. 

2022 program and abstracts 

April 15, 2022

Dietary Patterns at Two Colonial Sites in Southern Maryland

Abigail Kennedy
At the April 14 CCASM Zoom meeting Abigail Kennedy presented dietary data associated with faunal and vessel artifacts recovered from two sites in Calvert County in order to help provide an understanding of colonial dietary practices along the Patuxent River in the early Colonial period.  One site, the Roberts Site (18CV350), was an early 18th-century inland site on the Patuxent River, while the other site, Patuxent Point (18CV271), was a late 17th-century site located at the confluence of the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers. 

Abigail Kennedy is a senior at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  After graduation she plans to pursue a Masters in bioarchaeology.

We would like to thank James Gibb for hosting the Zoom meeting. 

 A snapshot of some of those at the meetings -

 Attendance: 8 people