June 16, 2017

Packing up Ship in Alexandia

Archaeologists found the partial hull of a ship at the site of a new hotel construction project in Old Town Alexandria.  This cargo ship was constructed in 1741(established through dendrology) and scuttled in 1780's.  It was found on the same one-block site where workers two months ago discovered a 1755 foundation from a warehouse that is believed to have been the city’s first public building.

June 13, 15, and 16 volunteers documented the timbers, removed treenails, wrapped the timbers, constructed containers, and loaded timbers onto a trailer under the direction of the Texas A and M conservators.  At least one CCASM member volunteered at the site.

The first photo shows timber being kept in the storage vat.  Then each piece of wood is measured, photographed, and a computer record of the number and the measurement is recorded.  The last photo shows the timber being wrapped to keep it as wet as possible for transport.

Thanks to Evelyn for providing the photos.

June 12, 2017

2017 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan - June )

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: Burch House in Historic Port Tobacco Village  map
Note: location change until it gets cold again.

Next dates (activity subject to change):   
          Monday,  Jun  19 (11am - 3:30pm) lab closed unless it's raining - Fieldwork at Stagg Hall
          Monday,  Jun  26 (11am - 3:30pm)
          Monday,  Jul     3 closed for holiday
          Monday,  Jul 10 (11am - 3:30pm) lab closed unless it's raining - Fieldwork at Rich Hill 

The morning of June 12 eight people from Creative Options and Opportunities in Waldorf visited the lab.  Evelyn, Denise, Joe, Carol, and Esther worked with them as they washed artifacts and then mended broken pottery. 

Then in the afternoon Julie joined us as we continued to wash artifacts (mainly ceramics and glass) recovered in 1972 from BF1.  We also found a paper bag with a lot of copper alloy tacks (over a hundred) as well as nails that appear to have been in a fire.  Among all the tacks and nails was this fragment of a small round copper alloy object with an eight-point star or ? on it.  So it became our artifact of the day.

June 5 it was just Denise, Evelyn, and Carol bagging the artifacts recovered from Stagg Hall.  It was mostly mortar with some brick fragments, but there were at least four large dark olive green wine bottle fragments.  Here are three of them including one covered in "gold" patina.
Normally photos of the lab show us working, but this photo shows off the six new matching chairs and the two new additional lamps.   

May 22 Denise, Jeanne Marie, Evelyn, and Carol bagged Port Tobacco artifacts they had washed last week.  Then we washed all the artifacts recovered from Stagg Hall on Saturday during Port Tobacco Market Day.  There was a lot of mortar!  But there were also some interesting ceramics including one Nottingham rim sherd and one small Staffordshire-Type slipware sherd.  However the artifacts of the day are two unglazed sherds recovered 2.45"-2.7" below the surface.  The sherd on the right is Accokeek, a type of Early Woodland pottery.  It is shiny because it is still wet.  We think the sherd on the left could be Colonoware, an earthenware made after contact by American Indians and/or African Americans.  And if you are wondering about Esther, she was finalizing the data catalog template.

May 15 we returned to the lab.  Denise, Jeanne Marie, Elsie, Evelyn, Carol, and Esther sorted and bagged the Rich Hill artifacts (including a lot of oyster shells) that had been previously washed.  After lunch we retrieved additional artifacts from the Courthouse Attic and started washing them.  The artifact of the day is from these latter artifacts.  It is the rim of an early twentieth century glass vessel.

Instead of working in the lab on May 8, Elsie, Evelyn, Carol, Esther, and Cathy took a field trip to Rich Hill.   We looked at the results from the geophysical report for the grounds around Rich Hill and compared it to what we could see on the surface.  But most of the afternoon was spent walking some of the old roads close to the house.  Just chilly enough to make for a nice day.
May 1 was devoted to processing the Rich Hill artifacts.  Denise joined Julie, Evelyn, and Carol in sorting and bagging the washed artifacts.  Then it was time to dry brush the nails and any metal recovered as well as to wash the buckets of oyster shells.  Since it was a nice day and the work was somewhat messy, we moved outside.  The artifact for the day was a large piece of iron, possibly related to an agriculture.  Denise is dry-brushing it in the photo.  Any suggestions to what it might be?

The lab on April 24 was devoted to washing artifacts recovered at the Rich Hill Public Archaeology event on the previous day.  Jeffrey, who helped screen at Rich Hill, joined Jean Marie, Evelyn, Elsie, and Carol in washing coal, bricks, ceramics, and glass.  No artifact of the day was selected although there were two interesting pieces that may have been from a salt-glazed stoneware jug with a spigot.

Hohr Ware    Rhenish Brown
April 10 was a beautiful spring day, but Elsie, Evelyn, Carol, Julie, and Esther were inside in the lab.  Everyone but Evelyn was cataloging artifacts - ceramics, nails, bone.  Evelyn was sorting unprovenienced artifacts.  Most of day she was sorting olive green bottle glass.  Then she started on a bag of early salt-glazed stoneware.  Everyone had to stop and look at the stoneware.  We picked three pieces for the "artifact of the day".  Both pieces are early German salt-glazed stoneware with sprig applied decoration.

teapot lid knob
and wine glass

April 3 Elsie and Carol catalogued artifacts and Esther did research while Jeanne Marie and Julie washed some interesting artifacts that included the "artifacts for the day".  Both artifacts are beverage-related.  On the left is a knob from the lid of a redware teapot.  On the right is part of the bowl and the stem of a pressed glass wine glass.
thimble   glass vessels

Mar 27 Elsie, Julie, Evelyn, and Carol continued to catalogue artifacts, Peggy continued sorting nails, and Esther did research.  Jeanne Marie washed artifacts and provided us with the artifact of the day - a small thimble.  She also washed the glassware shown.  Quite an interesting provenience.

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.
Tin-glazed Bowl

 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". 

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 sketch drawn in 1978 that indicates approximately where this is as well as indicating when various areas of Port Tobacco were excavated.
1978 Sketch 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

June 8, 2017

Native American Artifacts Transferred to MAC Lab

From February 2012 through May 2013 CCASM investigated a Native American site on private property near Bryans Road in Charles County.  The site is a multi-component site dating from the Archaic Period into historic times with the major components being associated with the Early Woodland/early Middle Woodland Periods.  The investigation was done entirely by volunteers that were also CCASM members.  Even the Principle Investigator, Dr. James Gibb, volunteered his time as well as provided some of his equipment.

But investigation involves more that just digging.  CCASM members continued volunteering through March 2014 in order to process (wash, sort, bag with paper labels) all the artifacts.  And from 2015 through May 2017 the artifacts were labeled (using B-72) according to Maryland Lab Standards. 

On June 7 the property owners transferred 16 boxes containing over 16,510 artifacts to the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.  There they will be stored and can be made available for researchers and for exhibits.  All the documentation was also transferred at that time.

Loading Up
Moving into MAC Lab
To see what CCASM members did during the investigation (in reverse chronological order) -
Labeling Native American Collection - Part 1 Completed
Processing Native American Site Artifacts - Part 2
Investigating Native American Site - Part 2
Finishing STPs at Native American Site
Investigating Native American Site

June 6, 2017

2017 ASM Field Session - Calverton

May 26 through June 5 the Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc (ASM) along with Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) held the 2017 Field Session at the Calverton Site in Calvert County Maryland.  Kirsti Uunilla, the Calvert County Archeologist, was the principal investigator.

The Calverton Site (18CV22) is a multi-component site first occupied by indigenous people in the Woodland Period and later served as the first County Seat for Calvert County until 1724.  Calverton (also known as Battle Town and Calvert Towne) is one of the oldest official ports and towns designated by Lord Baltimore in the Province.  Located on Battle Creek near its junction with the Patuxent River, this site has received scant archeological attention and is under severe threat of coastal erosion.
Screening with view of Creek
Looking inland early in the session
Units were opened in four locations.  In addition to all the shell recovered, historic artifacts included several types of seventeenth century ceramics, hand wrought nails that had been in a fire, gun flints, and brick fragments.  Native American artifacts included at least one point and chert flakes.  Below are two of the more interesting finds (at least to me).  This gorget fragment is one of the Native American artifacts and could be Adena.  This Smoker's Companion that had been in a fire would have been used in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.  We will have to wait for the report to learn more about the site.
Gorget and Smoker's Companion
At least two CCASM members attended for multiple days.

CCASM is a chapter of ASM.

May 24, 2017

2017 ASM Field Session

The Archaeological Society of Maryland, Inc (ASM) along with Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) will hold its 2017 Field Session May 26- June 5 at the Calverton Site in Calvert County Maryland. Kirsti Uunilla, the Calvert County Archeologist, will be the principal investigator.

The usual work day begins at 8:30AM, but on the first day, May 26, work will start late (10:30am).
Click  for "What to Bring to Field Session".

Survey, excavation, feature definition and lab work will be taking place on site. There will also be some lunch-time lectures and other educational seminars throughout the session.
    Thursday June 1, 6:30pm - Dennis Pogue (archaeological research at Mount Vernon)
                                                Calvert Library (850 Costley Way, Prince Frederick, MD 20678)
The traditional Almost-End-of-the-Session Cookout will be held Saturday June 3 on site at the end of the workday.

Click  for registration form.  Even though the mail-in date has passed, you can register at the site. 

Cost -  ASM Member                              $20/day  (maximum $60)
            ASM School Chapter Member    $10/day  (maximum $30)
            Accompanied child (under 18)      $5/day  (maximum $15)
            Non-ASM Member                     $25/day  (maximum $75)

The Calverton Site (18CV22) is a multi-component site first occupied by indigenous people in the Woodland Period and later served as the first County Seat for Calvert County.  Calverton is one of the oldest official ports and towns designated by Lord Baltimore in the Province.  Located on Battle Creek near its junction with the Patuxent River, this site has received scant archeological attention and is under severe threat of coastal erosion. Current property owners of the land in the eastern extent of the town are permitting the Field Session to take place on their property.

Directions to the site:
Driving from Prince Frederick (MD 4/MD 231 interchange):
Take MD 231 (Hallowing Point Rd) west for 2.8 miles. Go slightly left onto MD 508 (Adelina Rd – not marked with name) south. Continue 3.7 miles. At gate, carefully follow signs to site – 1 mile. As you approach, be on the lookout for signs directing you to the site and to the parking areas. It is at the end of a country road so it can be easy to make a wrong turn. Remember this is on private property.

CCASM is a chapter of ASM.

May 20, 2017

Public Archaeology at 2017 Port Tobacco Market Day

Saturday, May 20 was the 8th Port Tobacco Market Day, and once again Charles County sponsored a public archaeology event in front of  Stagg Hall in Historic Port Tobacco.  This was a continuation of the excavation of a half unit that contained part of the foundation of an earlier building that had housed a print shop in the nineteenth century. 

Experienced CCASM members Evelyn, Elsie, Jeanne Marie, Steve, and Carol assisted Charles County Archaeologist Esther Doyle Reed.  At least four other people joined us in screening the artifacts.  And, of course, numerous people stopped by to see what we were doing.

During the morning we chose an early nineteenth century green edged rim as the artifact of the day.  This was found inside the building.  But in the afternoon we recovered at least three early nineteenth century wine bottle bases with kick-ups outside the building.  We also removed lots of mortar and some bricks from the building.  And, yes, we continue to recover printer type.
Excavating the Half-Unit
Artifact of the morning-
green edged rim

CCASM also had a "public awareness" booth that included the display "Looking at Water's Edge in Charles County. 

We would like to thank Evelyn for providing the photos

May 15, 2017

Thomas Stone and Potluck Supper

Amy Muraca and David Lassman
CCASM's first Pot Luck Supper was held at Thomas Stone National Historic Site on Saturday, March 13, 2017.  There was more than enough food, and it was fun to just get together and share.

Also we learned more about this historic site.  First, Amy Muraca, the Resource Manager for Thomas Stone NHS and George Washington Birthplace National Monument, talked about archaeology relating to Thomas Stone and told us about proposals for future archaeology projects at the site.  Since Amy's background was in historical archaeology, we asked her a number of questions.

Next Park Ranger David Lassman related some more about this site, but spent most of his time talking about a number of other National Park sites along the George Washington Parkway.  There was so much information imparted. 

Since this was the May meeting, there was a brief CCASM meeting with the various officers giving reports on what had happened during the past year.

After the meeting David took several of us on a tour inside Haverdeventure, Thomas Stone's plantation home.

All in all we had a really nice time and would like to thank David for helping us set up our event at Thomas Stone.

Attendance: 13

April 23, 2017

Public Archaeology at Rich Hill and Discover Quest

Sunday April 23 turned out to be a great day for the Open House at the Rich Hill Historic Site and for the associated public archaeology.  This event was part of Charles County's Discover Quest.

The public archaeology involved excavating an area identified by ground penetrating radar and believed to be a kitchen midden.  That appears to be the case. The top level contained oyster shells, animal bones, coal, nails, and bricks with some glass and later ceramics.  The third level was almost all oyster shells - lots of whole oyster shells.  Among the artifacts recovered from the fourth level were American stoneware and a large rusted flat iron object but essentially no oyster shells.  Esther Read was the archaeologist in charge.  CCASM members volunteering at the excavation as well as interacting with the public included Jim, Steve, Jeanne-Marie, Evelyn, and Carol.

Screening, Contemplating
Working and Talking with Visitors
At the Open House there were a large number of panels relating different aspects of Rich Hill's history, a virtual tour of the second floor of the house, costumed re-enactors, a Civil War encampment, and historical organization displays.  CCASM had a small unstaffed table with a sign indicating people should come visit us at the excavation.