February 14, 2020

IMH Underwater Archaeology: Collecting Data at Depth

Carolin McManus
At the February 13 CCASM meeting Carolin McManus spoke about IMH’s work monitoring the U-1105 submarine near Piney Point, MD, as well as a Defense POW/MIA mission IMH divers completed in Germany and other ongoing projects in the Chesapeake Bay.  Carolin also brought the equipment she "wears" on a dive.

The Institute of Maritime History (IMH) is a non-profit educational organization of volunteers who conduct underwater archaeological reconnaissance and research for federal, state and local agencies.

Carolin is one of the most active divers and researchers with IMH.  In her weekday job, she teaches cultural studies, film, and communications at the College of Southern Maryland in Leonardtown.

Attendance: 20

February 10, 2020

2020 Public Archaeology Lab Days (Jan-Jun)

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 from savage archaeology in County as well as those recovered in the 1970's around the Port Tobacco Courthouse.  Esther Read is the archaeologist in charge.

Open to the general public.   No experience is required. 

Location: Courthouse or Burch House in Historic Port Tobacco Village  map
Note: During nice weather lab is outside at Burch House.  Otherwise on second floor of the Courthouse.  (Moving back to Court house in October.)

Next dates: 
         Monday,   Feb 17 (11am - 3:30pm) holiday
         Monday,   Feb 24  (11am - 3:30pm)
         Monday,   Mar  2 (11am - 3:30pm)


February 10 Mary and Linda continued cataloging.  Elsie, Denise, and Carol spent some time cataloging, but also did inventory of bags, boxes, and computers.  We chose this base of a glass vessel as the artifact of the day. The stem seems too big to be from a wine glass.

At the February 3 Lab Mary and Linda continued cataloging while Elsie, Denise, and Julie checked previously cataloged lots for missing items without pull slips and instances where actual artifact number disagreed with the catalog.  And there was another session of Archaeology Academy.
For the artifact of the day we chose this lead crystal decanter stopper with internal decorative bubbles in the round head of the stopper which do not show in the picture due to patination and etching of the glass.  The stopper is similar to one sketched in Noel Hume's book as circa 1720-1835.
Thanks to Elsie for the info and the photo.


Denise, Elsie, Linda, Carol, and Esther spent the January 27 Lab continuing to catalog artifacts and also correcting the catalog.  We chose something different for the artifact of the day - a Schrader pneumatic tire valve.
On January 13 Denise, Mary, Elsie, Mary, Carol, Julie, and Esther were once again cataloging artifacts and also correcting the catalog.  We now have three computer stations.  The Port Tobacco River Conservancy now has a new computer and is donating the old one to CCASM.  CCASM's current plans are for the computer to be used in the Monday Lab.  Several of those attending lab have also given older computers and printers for use in the lab.
This porcelain bowl was chosen as the artifact of the day.  Part of an image of a woman with a Gibson Girl hairstyle can be seen in the bottom of the bowl.  Only the top of the head is shown. This bowl was recovered from Area B, Feature 1, Square 5, Level 5.

The January 6th Lab was a good start for the new year.  After putting away the Christmas decorations in the South Wing it took a little time to remember where we had left off cataloging.  But soon Linda was organizing while Elsie, Janna, Julia, Mary, Carol, and Esther started cataloging.  These fragments from a tin-glazed plate were chosen as the artifact of the day.


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

January 12, 2020

The Port Tobacco Great Mill

Donald Zimmer with
Paula and Bob Sorrells
At the January 9 CCASM meeting Donald Zimmer shared what he has learned about an early eighteenth century mill near Port Tobacco.  This included information about different types of water mills in Maryland as well as information from land deeds that helped identify the location.  The  mill was somewhere on the property of Bob and Paula Sorrels.  Don and the Sorrells enlisted the help of Steve Lohr who found a brick foundation corner.  The investigation is continuing. 
Paula and Bob brought some of the artifacts recovered as well as displays of what has been done.  And as with many of his research projects Don created a painting.  This time one of the forgotten mill.

Finding the Elusive Mill; The First Finds
Big Discovery: The Mill Stone


Attendance: 25

December 15, 2019

Analysis of Baylor: a Contact-Period Site

Catherine Dye
At the December 12 CCASM meeting Catherine Dye discussed findings from the artifact-rich Baylor Site (44EX0005),  She also compared the Baylor Site artifacts to those from six other historic-period Native American sites in the Chesapeake including two sites in Charles County.

During the summer of 2018, archaeologists from St. Mary's College of Maryland and field school students from the University of Mary Washington undertook excavations at numerous Native archaeological sites located in the Rappahannock River Valley as a part of the Rappahannock Indigenous Cultural Landscape Survey. The Baylor Site, a previously unexplored contact-period site, was excavated as a part of that project.

Catherine is a graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland and is currently working on projects with Dr. Julia King and Scott Strickland.

Attendance: 12

December 9, 2019

CCASM at the 2019 Holiday Trail

On December 7 and 8 CCASM hosted visitors in the South Wing of the Port Tobacco Courthouse  during the 2019 Charles County Holiday Trail.  Since Burch House was closed, CCASM brought the decorations and archaeology displays from Burch House to the Courthouse.  Fourteen historic sites participated in this free event.

Over a hundred visitors visited the South Wing this year.  They heard about the history and archaeology of Burch House, saw some of the tools archaeologist use, and were able to make a Christmas ornament to keep or to hang on the smaller Christmas tree.  Several also took a copy of the "Discovering Historic Port Tobacco" Archaeological and Historical Activity Booklet that CCASM helped develop last year.

CCASM members decorated the room simply for the holidays in keeping with Burch House.  There was a lot of greenery and two trees decorated with crocheted ornaments.  At the end one of the trees was also decorated with additional ornaments made during the event.  And as a special treat on Sunday Janna and Mary were dressed in period costumes.


Special thanks to Denise, Mary, Linda, Janna, Carol, and Esther for being there to talk with the visitors and for helping with the children's activity.  And a special thanks to Mary and Janna who baked cookies.  

2019 Public Archaeology Lab Days (July-Dec )

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

Here is what we did in the second half of 2019.

December 9 was our pizza / potluck Christmas lunch.  First we removed the archaeology displays but left the Christmas decorations in the South Wing of the Courthouse.  (The Holiday Trail was this past weekend.)  Then we spent the rest of the time eating and sharing "archaeology" stories.  Always fun.

(Thanks to Denise, Linda, Janna, and Carol for bringing food, Mary for bringing drinks and supplies, and Esther for supplying the pizzas.



December 2 we took a break from the Lab to set up the South Wing of the Port Tobacco Courthouse for the upcoming Charles County Trail.  Elsie and Carol brought greenery.  Denise, Linda, Mary, and Janna decorated while Carol set up the archaeology displays. 

A number of different things were going on during the November 25 Lab.  Before lunch Linda, Janna, and Carol catalogued while Mary, Elsie, and Denise went to Burch House to retrieve our Christmas decorations from the attic.  After lunch Esther held the second session of the Archaeology Academy. 


At the November 18 Lab Denise, Mary, Linda, and Carol continued cataloging the artifacts that were processed this summer.  And we came across this large oyster shell that we designated the artifact of the day.  It was found in Port Tobacco BF1 Square 3 in one of the lower levels.
November 4 Denise, Mary, Linda, and Carol started merging the recently processed artifacts into artifacts from the same provenience that had already been catalogued.  Interesting learning experience.
We choose this decorated ceramic sherd as the artifact of the day.  Since the two pieces fit together, they are counted as one.


 We have processed a large number of artifacts this summer, mainly from BF1 locations.  At the October 28 Lab Denise, Mary, Linda, Elsie, and Carol sorted through all the the bags of artifacts in preparation to updating the information in the catalog. And we chose this Nottingham stoneware rim with a chevron design and breadcrumbs as the artifact of the day.


October 21 lab was a little different.  In the morning Denise, Linda, and Elsie washed the remaining artifacts at Burch House while Carol and Mary took the boxes of bagged artifacts to the Courthouse.  We were getting ready to return to the Courthouse for the colder weather. We choose a bone button with a metal shank from BF1 Square 4 as the artifact of the day.

Then in the afternoon Esther presented the first session of her Archaeology Academy.
October 7 Denise, Mary, Linda, and Carol talked about this and that as well as the recent ASM meeting that CCASM had hosted. Then three of us measured the internal bore of pipe stems and bagged the white tobacco pipe stems and bowls that we had previously washed.  All of the bowl fragments except for one were from a plain pipe type (Type 18) that was made 1720-1820.  The exception -- a small fragment from a decorative pipe type (Type 21 or 25?) made 1780-1820 -- was chosen as the artifact of the day.  (The type numbers are from Noël Hume's Artifacts of Colonial America.)

September 29 Denise, Linda, Mary, Elsie, Janna, and Carol washed pipe stems - lots of white tobacco pipe stems.  And among all the stem and bowl fragments, we found the artifact for the day - part of a wig curler.  Remember those white powdered wigs that men wore in the 18th century?  To find out how the wig curler was used, check out www.mountvernon.org/blog/2018/10/boiling-baking-and-curling-18th-century-wigs

Denise, Linda, Janna, and Carol sorted and bagged until after lunch on September 23 and then started washing white tobacco pipe stems -- lots of white tobacco pipe stems.  The weather was nice working outside on the benches, but caterpillars kept falling out of the trees. We choose this rusty two-tined fork as the artifact of the day.  You can still see how the handle was attached.

September 16 Denise, Mary, Linda, Janna, and Carol processed numerous small bags of artifacts - sorting and bagging those that had been washed last week and washing additional ones.  All the artifacts were from the Port Tobacco collection.  We choose this ceramic rim from BF-1-3 as the artifact of the day.



On September 9 Denise, Linda, Mary, Elsie, and Carol completed bagging the artifacts recovered from an area behind a historic house in the Mount Vernon view shed.  Esther catalogued the artifacts and indicated 270+ had been recovered.

Since there was still lab time left, we also washed artifacts from the Port Tobacco collection.  And we chose this pressed glass goblet stem from BF1 as the artifact of the day.  At the top of the fragment a small amount of the pressed design can be seen.  This slightly pink color occurs when glass decolored with manganese dioxide is exposed to uv light.


August 26 Mary, Denise, Linda, Janna, and Carol washed the artifacts that we had recovered from an area behind a historic house in the Mount Vernon view shed.  (See Fieldwork near Potomac River)  It's always interesting when washing an artifact reveals something not expected - a possible fire cracked rock turns out to be part of a dark gray brick or another dirt-covered artifact turns out to be a prehistoric pottery fragment.  Historic ceramics can be somewhat easier to identify in the field, especially when they are white.  That was the case with the artifact of the day - part of a hand painted Chinese export porcelain lid. 

Mary, Linda, Carol, and Esther spent most of the August 19 lab getting ready for fieldwork on land near the Potomac River,  The work was requested by the Historic Preservation Commission.  Then we sorted and bagged artifacts to free up two additional drying screens for any artifacts recovered this weekend.  It always important to maintain the provenience in the screens.  But we didn't forget the artifact of the day.  We choose this fragment of a hand-painted Chinese export porcelain plate.
On August 5 Linda, Luke (Linda's grandson), Mary, Janna, and Esther picked up more artifacts from the Courthouse.  The cabinets on the rafters in the Courthouse attic had finally been moved (Thanks to Charles County), and we can now get into them!  Looks like lots of this stuff is labeled...BF1. A few labelled PT were also noted.  We will continue to dig through paper work looking for documentation for all the other numbers found on artifacts.  We chose this Rhenish stoneware tankard rim fragment with an incised checkered motif as the artifact of the day.
Thanks to Esther for the info, and Mary for the photo.

Only Mary and Denise were at lab on July 29 - several people enjoying family or vacations with another being under the weather. We spent most of the time at the courthouse researching and gathering items for the event on Saturday at Port Tobacco, but did not get an opportunity to choose artifact of the day.
Thanks to Mary for info.


July 22 Mary, Denise, Linda, Janna, and Carol continued bagging and sorting artifacts.  There were a number of metal artifacts - some rusty iron and some copper alloy.  Our artifact for the day is this half of a copper alloy object.  We thought is might be part of a lamp or a candlestick.  And Esther continued working on her report.



On July 15 Elsie, Mary, Janna, and Carol sorted and bagged artifacts, washed ceramics and glass, and dry brushed some more rusted artifacts.  It's time for another trip to the attic for more artifacts.  Once again we chose to work outside on a shaded picnic table.  We selected a rusty mule shoe that still had the remains of three nails as the artifact of the day. 
The July 8 Lab was delayed an hour because of traffic problems caused by the heavy rain.  The Lab was held in the Courthouse.  Only Esther, Linda, Janna, and Elsie were able to make it.   After examining the sketch from the 1970 Mathay Report about the Port Tobacco investigation, we started getting ready to catalog the artifacts from PT2.  Elsie and Jenna sorted and merged the many bags from PT2 102 into similar categories.  Linda and Esther assembled a new shelving unit so we could reorganize the artifact boxes from both Rich Hill and Port Tobacco.  We chose this knife blade recovered from PT2 102 as the artifact of the day.  (As you probably already guessed, the sharpie is only for reference.)
Thanks to Elsie for the photo and the information.

On July 1 Linda, Elsie, and Carol sorted and bagged artifacts outside on the picnic table.  For the "artifact of the day" we decided to share this photo of rusty iron artifacts that had been found together in a bucket in the attic.  There is no provenience, but there are a lot of recognizable (or almost recognizable) objects.  Since they were iron, they had not been washed.  Instead Linda had dry brushed them on a previous lab day.
Around lunch we had a visitor, Joe, who brought his research and artifacts to share.  Esther and Joe spent the afternoon talking about what he had brought. 

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

November 15, 2019

Mapping an African American Cemetery

Wyseola Smith and Sarah Grady

Chew's Chapel in Edgewater, Maryland, is your typical Mid-Atlantic African American cemetery.  Found on a hillside that overlooks what used to be a stream, it is full of marked and unmarked graves.

On November 14 we learned about using cemetery mapping as a preservation strategy for working with and for communities.

First Sarah Grady related how her project documenting an African American school led to her interaction with the local community and a subsequent request to investigate the cemetery at Chew's Chapel.  Volunteers at the Smithsonian Environmental Archaeology Laboratory mapped the cemetery and produced a product for the descendants of those interred at the cemetery.  Sarah indicated that the next step is to work with the community to determine how they want to use and to maintain this information.

Next Wyseola Smith talked about her ties to the school, the church, and this African American community and what it meant to her to grow up in such a community.


Both Sarah and Wyseola volunteer in the Archaeology Lab at the  Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.  Sarah is a former president of CCASM.

Attendance: 14

November 11, 2019

Celebration for Mallows Bay - Potomac River National Marine Santuary

NOAA has designated an 18-square mile stretch of Maryland’s Potomac River as the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary.  It is the first national marine sanctuary designated since 2000, and the first one in Maryland.  For more about the Sanctuary, check out
MallowsBay-PotomacRiver (Don't forget to look at the video.)

To commemorate the designation of the new Sanctuary, NOAA and its partners hosted a community celebration on Saturday, November 9 at Mallows Bay Park.  CCASM was one of the sixty-one Community Champions. 

The program shows many of the dignitaries and honored guests at the dedication and celebration. 

CCASM along with numerous other organizations had  displays at the event.
Elsie and Gov. Larry Hogan
Elsie, Denise, and CCASM Display
Many of the partners with their wooden "Mallows Bay-Potomac River" paddle.

Thanks to Mary, Denise, Elsie, and Janna for representing CCASM.