By Charlie Hall, State Terrestrial Archeologist
Every year we invite the public to help us investigate a significant archeological site in Maryland. Held in partnership with the Archeological Society of Maryland, this year’s Field Session will be the 45th such opportunity to work side-by-side with some of Maryland’s most prominent archeologists, who guide participants in the use of the most up-to-date archeological methods. In exchange, these volunteers provide the support we need to conduct these important investigations.
River Farm site. Credit: Stephanie Sperling
This year’s Field Session will take us to the River Farm site along the upper Patuxent River in Anne Arundel County. Located at Jug Bay, the River Farm site is at least partially within the flood plain of the river that was damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Jane Cox, Chief of Cultural Resources for Anne Arundel County and this Field Session’s Principal Investigator, has been investigating the site for evidence of storm damage and to devise the means to mitigate future damage. The results of her work indicate that Native Americans occupied this beautiful location for at least 8,000 years, throughout the Archaic and Woodland periods. Over 1,000 ceramic sherds and dozens of projectile points were recovered from a limited investigation involving 131 small shovel test pits and a few larger excavation units. Non-local lithic material may connect River Farm to the near-by Pig Point site, where evidence of ritual mortuary behavior with links to the Ohio River valley has been found.
Excavation at River Farm. Credit: Stephanie Sperling
During the upcoming Field Session, at least three areas of the site will be investigated, including:
• a Late Woodland midden that yielded a C-141 date of 1010 AD;
• an area with a Late Woodland concentration that yielded evidence for numerous intact features, including hearths; and
• an Early Woodland concentration with a transitional Late Archaic component.
This will allow veterans of recent Field Sessions to contrast the Late Woodland of the Monocacy River valley with that of the Coastal Plain.
The Field Session will run for 11 consecutive days beginning on Friday, May 27th and ending on Monday, June 6th, inclusive of weekends and the Memorial Day holiday. You are invited to participate for as little as a few hours to as much as the entire 11-days. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required (from the home page, click on “Field Session”).
River Farm artifacts. Credit: Stephanie Sperling
A full schedule of lectures and events will also be offered. Among them will be a lunchtime talk by Al Luckenbach on the latest Pig Point discoveries (Sunday, May 29th), and an afternoon guided tour of the Glendening Nature Preserve (Friday, June 3rd). The traditional end-of-session feast will be held on Saturday, June 4th, following the day’s digging. Camping is available on the site, and motel accommodations are available in nearby towns. Watch the Archeological Society of Maryland’s website for developing schedule and details, and we’ll see you in the field!