March 22, 2017

2017 MHT/ASM Workshop

The Maryland Historical Trust and The Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc
 26th Annual Workshop in Archeology
Saturday March 25  (9:30am-3:30pm)
Maryland Historical Trust, 100 Community Place, Crownsville, MD  map

The agenda for the workshop is
  • 9:00    Registration and Coffee/Danish
  • 9:30    Welcome
      Keynote Speaker
  • 9:45   Slavery at George Washington's Mount Vernon
    Luke Pecararo
      10:45  Coffee Break
      Concurrent Sessions 
  • 11:00   Waders and Snake Chaps: Exploring Resistance Landscapes in the Great Dismal
    Becca Peixotto
  • 11:00   Mother Nature Bats Last
    Jen Sparenberg 
      12:15   Lunch and Student Poster Sessions  (Cafeteria is closed.)
      Concurrent Sessions 
  • 1:30     Forts and Fortifications
    Craig Lukezic
  • 1:30     Coins to Catherdrals: A Demonstration of the Whole Range of Latest
    Range of Laser Scanners Available Today
    Joe Nicoli
  • 1:30     CAT Session: Basic Lab Procedures, Part I  (limit 8)
    Becky Morehouse

  • 2:30     The Power of Water: Devastation in Ellicott City
    Marcia Miller
  • 2:30     Revisiting the Higgins Site: Reanalysis of the First Excavated
    Paleoindian Site in Maryland
    Zach Singer, Carol Ebright
  • 2:30     CAT Session: Basic Lab Procedures, Part II  (limit 8)
    Becky Morehouse
$7 for general admission, $5 for ASM members and students

CCASM is a chapter of ASM.

March 20, 2017

2017 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan - )

CCASM is working with Charles County at the ongoing Public Archaeology Lab Days.  The lab is for processing artifacts recovered from various archaeology initiatives in Charles County -  including processing artifacts recovered recently from Stagg Hall as well as those recovered in the 1970's around the Courthouse.  Esther Read is the archaeologist in charge.

Open to the general public.   No experience is required.   “On the Job Training"

Location: Port Tobacco Courthouse in Historic Port Tobacco Village  map
Note: location change for the colder months.
Next dates:  
          Monday,  Mar 13 (11am - 3:30pm)
          Monday,  Mar 20 (11am - 3:30pm)
          Monday,  Mar 27 (11am - 3:30pm)
          Monday,  Apr  3 (11am - 3:30pm)

bone object
Mar 20 Peggy continued to sort nails while Elsie, Julie, Evelyn, and Carol catalogued artifacts we believe are from the Glassford Store.  Esther continued providing input when we got stumped and reviewed some of the older documentation about the excavations.  She showed us one map that had the grid laid out over the Courthouse site excavations.  This will allow us to tie the artifacts labeled as "PT-#" to the ground. 
On the left is the artifact of the day - a bone object that we were not able to identify.  Let us know if you have any ideas what it might be.

Mar 13 Jeanne Marie and Peggy continued to sort while Elsie, Julie, Carol, and Esther continued learning to identify different types of ceramics as they catalogued the artifacts.  It's always fun to look for and actually find pieces that fit together.   Today's artifact of the day was three rim pieces from a decorated tin-glazed bowl that "mended".  (Picture in the mail)

pipe bowl handle
Mar 6 Jeanne Marie and Peggy sorted nails - mostly machine cut nails from around 1850.  Elsie, Evelyn, Julie, Carol, and Esther continued learning to identify different types of ceramics as they catalogued the artifacts.  The artifact of the day changed several times.  First it was the sorted nails.  Then it was an interesting white ware rim with paint over a decal.  But the winners for the day were two very small artifacts - part of a molded pipe bowl with a leaf design and part of a creamware handle with a sprig-molded flower.
Powder Purple
Tin-Glazed Earthenware
Feb 27 Jeanne Marie and Peggy cleaned "labeled" artifacts from the display case as well as washed more Port Tobacco artifacts.  Evelyn, Julie, and Carol continued cataloging the artifacts.  There was a lot of tin-glazed earthenware.  Most of it had blue decoration under the glaze, but the artifacts for the day are three rims that were powdered purple.  Overall powdered purple rims date to the 1630's to 1670's, but the two rims that also have the blue and white designs date to the 1730's to 1760's.  There is also a very small amount of blue on one edge of the bottom rim.

The artifacts currently being catalogued are from Area B, Feature 1.  The artifacts for the day are from Area B, Feature 1, Square 1, Level 4.  Here is a map drawn in 1978 that indicates approximately where this is as well as indicating when various areas of Port Tobacco were excavated.
1978 Map with Overview of  Port Tobacco Archaeology

On Feb 20 the lab “crew” was much smaller than last week's overflow crowd, but we did have brief visits by staff from both the Historic Port Tobacco Village and Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco, and even a tourist from Western Maryland.
Peggy and Jeanne Marie washed artifacts, while Julie and Elsie finished cataloging the artifacts from one strata. When they started sorting artifacts from another strata, they found that many of the artifacts needed to be washed, so Elsie joined the washing team while Julie researched Colonial ceramics.  Ester worked on improving the catalog, helping us identify artifacts and generally “putting out fires”.  Forgot to take pictures for the “artifact of the week”.  (Thanks to Elsie for this week's update.)

The lab was full on Feb 13, and everyone worked on the Port Tobacco artifacts.  Elsie, Julie, Evelyn, Carol, and Esther catalogued artifacts.  Jeanne Marie, Peggy, and first-timers Bill, KC, and Nina washed artifacts.

There was a lot of pieces of  tin-glazed earthenware, many of which would have made a nice artifact for the day.  But this artifact perplexed us.  We thought it might be something associated with an apothecary, but further research indicated it is probably the handle of a chamber pot.   

At the Feb 6 Lab Julie and Carol entered Port Tobacco ceramics into the computer spreadsheet (catalog) while Jeanne Marie and Evelyn washed artifacts from Rich Hill.  And Esther labeled some of the Rich Hill artifacts.  As you can see a lot of oyster shells recovered from the Rich Hill STPs were washed.  These are just a few of them.
Despite a light dusting of snow on the ground Elsie, Carol, Peggy, Evelyn, and Esther were in the Lab on Jan 30.  Last week Tim Horsley and several people from the Ottery Group conducted geophysical surveys  at Rich Hill.  (Think ground penetrating radar and magnetometer.)  They also dug several STPs.  Peggy and Evelyn washed artifacts from these STPs while Elsie and Carol entered Port Tobacco ceramics into the catalog.
Jan 23 Elsie, Jean-Marie, Julie, Evelyn, Carol, and Esther started cataloging the Port Tobacco artifacts in the Excel spreadsheet Esther had created.  Esther had added drop-down values for many of the items - a lot of work.   We did find a few minor adjustments were needed, but overall it worked well.   Since there was only one computer this week, we had a chance to learn together.

Jan 9 Esther, Jean-Marie, Julie, Peggy, and Carol returned to the Lab after a long holiday break.  The plan was to start cataloging Port Tobacco artifacts recovered in 1969-70.  But first we have to know what we are cataloging.  So Esther started training us to recognize different types of stoneware and refined earthenware.  Cathy dropped by for part of the training.

On another note: In a report Esther found a map indicating the location of BF-1 (Area B, Feature 1).  The majority of the "labelled" artifacts we have processed to date are from BF-1.  So that is definitely a step forward.

2016 Public Archaeology Lab Days (July - Dec)
2016 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan - June)
2015 Public Archaeology Lab Days

March 19, 2017

2017 Charles County History Day and Science Fair

The combined Charles County Annual History Day  and the Annual Science Fair (now referred to as H.I.T.S.) were held on March 18, 2017.  CCASM sponsored one of the special History awards and one of the Science awards.  In both cases the award was $50 and a one-year membership in CCASM.

This year's history topic was "Taking a Stand in History”.  The CCASM History award went to Gwyneth Luster for her documentary video “The Court-martial of Billy Mitchell: Taking a Stand to Tell the Truth”.   Gwyneth is an 8th grader from St. Mary's Bryantown.

This year's CCASM Science award for a project "demonstrating excellence and scientific thinking relevant to the field of archaeology" went to James Embry for his science project on “Which type of roofing and sides are the most water-resistant for Native American Longhouses - Bark or Thatch? ”.  James is a 5th grader from Malcolm Elementary School.

Congratulations, Gwyneth and James!

Also CCASM would like to thank Doug and Sami Zabel who judged the science projects for the CCASM award.

A Day at the 2017 Charles County H.I.T.S. Expo

On Saturday March 18  Charles County held its second Annual History, Industry, Technology, and Science (H.I.T.S.) Expo.  There were forty-seven table and classroom activities/displays with CCASM having one of them.  A lot was going on.  CCASM's table included a display depicting the various archaeological skills related to history and science as well as examples of artifacts found in Charles County.

We would like to thank Barbara and Elsie for staffing the display table.

March 11, 2017

Potomac Library - "Archaeologists Dig for Clues"

March 11 CCASM led an interactive children's program called "Archaeologists Dig for Clues" at Potomac Library in Bryans Road.  Seven children ranging in ages from 4 to 10 participated.  The library book associated with the program was Kate Duke's book "Archaeologists Dig for Clues".   After the librarian read sections of the book, the children looked at the clues from four different boxes of "artifacts" to try to determine what type of building would be associated with them.  But archaeologists do more than just recover objects, they also need to describe them.  So each child also choose an artifact to draw, measure, and describe. 

Gabi led the activity with Doug, Barbara, Peggy, Carol, as well as Gabi working with the children.   Always interesting.  Always fun.

Reading the book
"Archaeologists Dig for Clues"
Explaining activity to "archaeologists"
Describing artifacts

March 10, 2017

Elusive Artifacts

Kate Dinnel
At the March 6 CCASM meeting Kate Dinnel shared with us the evidence for textiles in the archaeological record and from museum collections, the methods used to make the textiles, the conditions that allowed some textiles to survive, and so much more.  Kate also talked about many of the plants that were used to make these bags, baskets, and mats in the past, as well as her attempts to grow some of these plants at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum.

And it is always good to have "show and tell".  Kate brought recently made examples of a bag and of cordage made from different local plants.

Kate Dinnel is an Archaeology Specialist in the Education Department of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. 

Before the Talk
Hands-on Time

Attendance: 17

March 9, 2017

Fieldwork Opportunity

Monday March 27 - Saturday April 1

Excavations at Lower Brambly I (18ST51) in Chaptico, St. Mary's County
Principal Investigator  - Dr Julia King of St. Mary's College of Maryland

This work will follow up on activities performed by ASM volunteers and others last December.  During the first half of February, Tim Horsley of the University of Northern Illinois conducted with the assistance Brent Chippendale conducted a remote sensing survey of the site.  Focus of the field work beginning on March 27 will be to place 5x5-foot squares on those anomalies that Horsley found.

Lower  Brambly I is a 20-acre shell midden located on private property at the conjunction of the Potomac and Wicomico Rivers.  It is believed that this site is the location of the Indian town Secomocomoco mapped by Captain John Smith in 1608.

Because the site is threatened by extraordinary storm events and normal tidal activity it is one of the three sites chosen for survey and testing under the grant provided to ASM through the Maryland Historical Trust's grant from the National Park Service pertaining to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

People interested in taking part should contact Julia King at to receive an information and registration packet.

March 6, 2017

NOAA Public Comment Meetings

In October 2015, NOAA announced its intent to designate a new national marine sanctuary to help conserve nationally-significant shipwrecks and related maritime heritage resources in Maryland. Following a public comment period last year, NOAA has developed a detailed analysis for a proposed national marine sanctuary to protect Mallows Bay-Potomac River, a maritime heritage resource area along the Potomac River, about 40 miles south of Washington, D.C.  The public now has an  opportunity to review the proposed alternative and provide input.  (for more on proposed alternatives) 

Mallow's Bay
Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
CCASM and the Archaeological Society of Maryland, Inc have written letters of support for the 52-square mile section of the Potomac designated in Alternative C.

But our continued help is needed to make the Sanctuary a reality. 

NOAA has scheduled two public meetings to solicit public comments for the proposed new sanctuary.  We are urged to attend and participate in these meetings.  The meetings will be held
  • Tuesday,  March 7, 2017  (6-9 pm)
    Charles County Government Building
    200 Baltimore Street
    La Plata, Maryland   map
  • Thursday,  March 9, 2017  (6-9 pm)
    Anne Arundel Community College
    Center for Applied Learning and Technology (CALT) Building (Room 100),
    101 College Parkway,
    Arnold, MD 21012   map
We can also submit electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. 
Comments must be received by March 31, 2017.

March 5 Outreach Committee Meeting

On March 5 Elsie, Barbara, Peggy, Mike, Doug, Gabi, Sami, and Carol reviewed the "Archaeologists Dig for Clues" activity.  Gabi will lead the activity on March 11 at the Potomac Library, and Sami will lead it on March 25 at the Waldorf West Library.  We had fun putting this together.

Too bad no photo was taken of us putting together the full-size mock up for the display at the LaPlata Library.   Even though we might have looked a little chaotic, surprisingly everything worked out.  The display will be up for the month of April.  The theme for Archaeology Month is "At the Water's Edge: Our Past on the Brink".

February 11, 2017

Finding Josiah Henson

Julia King
At CCASM's February 9th meeting Dr Julia King of Saint Mary's College discussed “Finding Josiah Henson: How Charles County Shaped the Life of this Conductor on the Underground Railroad“.

Josiah Henson was an escaped slave who was active in the underground railroad and founded a settlement in Canada for other fugitive slave.  His life was one of the inspirations for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.

In 1796 or shortly thereafter, he was born a slave on a plantation now know as La Grange, near present day La Plata.  Although he left La Grange at about age 9, the brutality of slavery he experienced there  in his formative years greatly impacted his later life.

Last summer Dr King and students from Saint Mary's College and the College of Southern Maryland, uncovered the location of the 18th century slave quarter at La Grange.  The historic artifacts they found associated with the plantation house covered a period of over 200 years while the artifacts associated with the slave quarter dated to the late 18th and early 19th centuries only.  Originally the front of La Grange faced towards Port Tobacco, and the slave quarter was behind the house.  Sometime around 1830 the house was changed so it faced towards present day La Plata.  This meant that the original slave quarter would then have been located in the front yard.  It is believed that the original slave quarter was abandoned at that time, and new slave quarters erected elsewhere on the property.

Dr. Julia King is a Professor of Anthropology at Saint Mary's College of Maryland and has talked to CCASM multiple times about her work in Charles County.

Attendance: 24

Thanks to Elsie for providing this posting and to Barbara for the group photo.