Maryland Paleoindian Sites on the National Register of Historic Places: A Newly Reported 13,000 Year Old Fluted Point from the Katcef Site

By Zachary Singer, MHT Research Archaeologist

The Maryland Historical Trust’s Office of Archaeology is delighted to participate in the celebration of Preservation Month by highlighting the Ice Age inhabitants of Maryland, which archaeologists refer to as Paleoindians. Researchers can recognize Paleoindians in the archaeological record by the distinctive types of stone projectile points they made, which are typically lanceolate in shape and usually fluted (i.e. thinned from the base to create a channel scar). The re-established Maryland Fluted Point Survey is generating data to learn more about the lifeways of the Paleoindians who lived in Maryland between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago.

The National Register of Historic Places includes three Maryland archaeological sites with Paleoindian components: the Nolands Ferry Site in Frederick County, the Katcef Site in Anne Arundel County, and the Paw Paw Cove Site in Talbot County. National Register listing indicates that these archaeological sites have been recognized for their significance in archaeology and identified as worthy of preservation.

In 1979, as part of the Maryland Fluted Point Survey, Lois Brown reported one crystal quartz fluted point from the Nolands Ferry Site and one crystal quartz fluted point from the Katcef Site.

Crystal quartz Clovis point from the Nolands Ferry Site (Source – JPPM Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland).
Crystal quartz Clovis point from the Katcef Site
(Source – Maryland Fluted Point Survey, photo by Zachary Singer).

Subsequently, Dr. Darrin Lowery has shared information on the fluted points from the Paw Paw Cove Site with the Maryland Fluted Point Survey.

Paw Paw Cove fluted points from left to right: jasper, chert, jasper, orthoquartzite
(Source – The Chesapeake Watershed Archaeological Research Foundation, photo by Darrin Lowery).

The re-established Maryland Fluted Point survey has recently recorded a second fluted point from the Katcef Site.

Orthoquartzite fluted point from the Katcef Site
(Source – Maryland Fluted Point Survey, photo by Zachary Singer).

The two fluted points from the Katcef Site (both the crystal quartz point and the newly recorded orthoquartzite one) were found by Robert Ogle, a professional surveyor and avocational archaeologist who spent over 50 years collecting artifacts from central and southern Maryland and Virginia. In 2009, Bob Ogle donated his artifact collection to Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division. Through a grant from the MHT’s FY 2020 Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grant Program, Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division is rehousing, enhancing, and studying Ogle’s collection. As part of their grant project, Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division has organized public workshops to assist in sorting and rehousing the Ogle materials. During a recent workshop, the second fluted point from Katcef was discovered in Ogle’s collection.

The newly discovered fluted point from Katcef is a mid-section fragment, which is identified as a fluted point based on the distal terminations of the flutes present on both faces. The raw material of the fluted point is a large grained orthoquartzite, a preferred toolstone during the Paleoindian period. Paleoindians likely procured the stone material from Maryland’s coastal plain at quarry localities exposed along an ancient paleochannel of the Susquehanna River, which was created due to the lower sea-levels caused by glaciation during the terminal Pleistocene (Lowery and Wagner 2018). Due to deglaciation, sea-level rise, and sediment infilling over the past 13,000 years, the Susquehanna paleochannel and associated quarry localities are now inundated by the Chesapeake Bay. Systematic test excavations at the Katcef site in 1989 and 1990 identified stratified archaeological deposits, which suggests that there is the potential for deeply buried Paleoindian activity areas to be present at the site. Future research aimed at locating and carefully investigating stratified areas of Katcef to document buried Paleoindian materials may yield valuable information about the early inhabitants of Maryland, perhaps including the recovery of archaeological features like hearths that could provide radiocarbon datable materials and evidence for Paleoindian diet in Maryland.

Documenting Early Colonial History in Howard County – Hutchcraft’s ‘Fortune’ Found (Guest Blog)

By Kelly Palich, Howard County Recreation and Parks, Upper Patuxent Archaeology Group

Located north of the Fall Line, the Upper Patuxent River valley is located within the Piedmont Plateau, an area characterized by rolling hills and many rivers and their tributaries. During early colonial settlement, this area was considered “barren”, or without timber, thought to be caused by the common Native American practice of burning large areas to encourage use by wild game (Mayre 1955). As a result, this region was believed unfertile and often described as “remote and not likely to be settled in sometime.” (Mayre 1921: 128).

The Raven Site and environs - showing the barren nature of the site area.
The Raven Site and environs – showing the barren nature of the site area.

As arable land became less available throughout the tidal region, and more settlers immigrated to Maryland, tobacco plantations began to appear north of the Fall line as early as 1720. Over the past year, archaeologists and volunteers with the Upper Patuxent Archaeology Group (UPAG), and staff from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) have investigated the Raven Site (18HO252). Normally inundated by the waters of the Patuxent River backed up behind Brighton Dam, the Raven Site represents one of the earliest colonial tobacco plantations documented archaeologically in Howard County. The goal of our investigation was to relocate a previously identified subfloor pit feature, and attempt to locate a purported early 18th century plantation house and outbuildings while waters in WSSC’s Triadelphia Reservoir were in retreat due to scheduled dam maintenance.

The Raven Site was initially identified in 2002 by archaeologists Wayne Clark and Paul Inashima, while surveying the area for Native American resources (2003). During their survey, they observed fragments of Rhenish Blue and Gray and Brown Salt-glazed Stoneware, and a fragment of a 17th-century Bellarmine Jug (these artifacts were not collected and could not be relocated in subsequent investigations). It was later speculated that this area might have been the location of a late 17th- to early 18th-century ranger station, which served to protect plantations on Maryland’s frontier. The site was recorded, but no further work was conducted.

During a period of historically low water levels in 2006, archaeologists and volunteers from The Lost Towns Projects, Inc. conducted a three-day salvage investigation, including a controlled surface collection and non-ferrous metal detecting survey, to document this site and protect it from the immediate threat of looting. Archaeologists identified a core 200 X 200 foot area consisting of a high concentration of artifacts, as well as a possible subfloor pit feature. The investigation also entailed archival research on the location of the site. What they found proved that the area was in fact not a 17th-century ranger station, but an early-mid 18th-century tobacco plantation, one of the earliest settled in the Piedmont region of Anne Arundel County (Howard County was not established until 1850 – present day Howard County was the western hinterland frontier of Anne Arundel).

In 1732, Thomas Hutchcraft, planter, received a 175-acre patent, “Hutchcraft’s Fortune”. Thomas Hutchcraft, born in Surrey, England in 1696, immigrated to the colonies with his wife Hannah and established his plantation after his initial land purchase. In 1748, he purchased a second 302-acre patent, “Victory” adjoining his “Fortune” land. He eventually sold off land from his plantation, selling 50 acres of “Victory” to Robert Wright in 1756, 415 acres and three enslaved laborers to Phillip Hammond, and 54 acres of “Fortune” to William Ray Junior in 1764. Prior to his death in 1770, he sold the remaining 361 acres of his land holdings to Benjamin Purnell, including the land that contained his house site.

Patent plat showing Hutchcraft’s Fortune, Anne Arundel County Patent Certificate # 1629

We have recently acquired Hutchcraft’s probate inventory which lists his belongings at time of death. His estate, valued at 315 pounds, placed him in the middling socioeconomic bracket. Upon his death, he had six enslaved laborers and four white servants in his employ (minus the three enslaved persons he sold to Phillip Hammond in 1756). He owned much livestock, including a steer, cows, hogs, sheep, and horses. Perhaps Hutchcraft was one of the earlier farmers to diversify his crops, for he is listed as having wheats, oat, and corn aside from Tobacco crop. He is also listed as having a hand mill and two spinning wheels, which suggested other means of income within the household. Records such as these are extremely valuable for archaeologists when analyzing material culture from the field!

During the 2006 investigations, The Lost Towns crew recovered 1,120 artifacts, most of which dated between 1700-1780, and represented a middling tobacco plantation. Artifacts recovered included a variety of ceramics, pewter, brick and window glass suggesting at least some level of wealth (see the slideshow below). Given the general size of the plantation acreage, and the fact that Hutchcraft owned several enslaved laborers, this again supports his status as a middling planter of the early to mid-18th century.

The 2006 investigation was able to determine a relative date for the site and locate (but not fully excavate) one cultural feature (Feature 1). An analysis of artifact distribution allowed archaeologists to interpret the possible location of the original structure. Due to severe soil deflation, further work was not deemed critical, but further research on the feature was recommended to fully understand the history of site occupation.

The 2019-2020 season saw another period of dam repair and draught and another round of historically low water levels. The Upper Patuxent Archaeology Group was contacted by WSSC staff, who were interested in further research on the Raven Site. Our initial goal was to continue to document surface distribution, conduct a non-discriminating metal detecting survey (to locate nail patterning or “nail clouds” for structure identification), and relocate the feature identified by the Lost Towns Crew in 2006. We aimed to conduct further excavations that would interpret Feature 1 and help determine whether or not the Hutchcraft home site was truly located.

During the initial 2019 round of surface collection, we were able to document and retrieve at least 2,000 additional artifacts (number pending lab processing), as well as relocate Feature 1. Metal Detecting also identified nail clouds in an area outside of the original 200 X 200 foot survey grid, identifying the potential location of buildings associated with the Hutchcraft Plantation.

Based on our surface findings, a larger grid was established (400 X 400 foot square), encompassing the original 200 X 200 ft area as well as additional locations of interest exposed in 2019. After several attempts at relocating the original grid datum, we were able to pinpoint the area where the feature was most likely located and four 10 X 10 foot units were placed. Luckily, since the soils were heavily deflated due to water action beneath Triadelphia Reservoir, it did not take long to strip the very thin layer of silt and expose Feature 1.

The author…incredibly happy at finding the feature!

Given the size of the feature (an irregularly-shaped pit measuring at least 8 X 10 feet) and the presence of daub and a lot of burnt and butchered bones, a quick field interpretation identified this feature not as a sub floor pit in a house, but a clay borrow pit later filled in over time with trash and butchering waste. A clay borrow pit, archaeologically speaking, is a hole or pit that was intentionally dug to extract natural clays for the making of brick or daub for construction. Other artifacts, including sleeve cufflinks, tobacco pipes, ceramics, and horse hardware were recovered. The variety of artifacts further supports a later trash deposit.

Partially excavated Feature 1 – a clay borrow pit.

While a great quantity of hand wrought nails were recovered from Feature 1, little architectural evidence was documented. During the initial controlled surface survey and metal detecting, however, another area, outside of the original 200 X 200 foot grid, yielded a great quantity of window glass and a few clusters of nails, suggesting the presence of a decent-sized structure. The concentration of nails identified during metal detecting piqued our interest and we reached out to Matt McKnight, Chief Archaeologist at MHT, to seek his assistance with remote sensing. Our hope (with dam repairs complete and the waters in the reservoir rising) was that remote sensing could help us further identify buried features in a timely manner.

With the help of Matt, Zac Singer and Troy Nowak of MHT, we were able to survey a 50 meter (north-south) by 40 meter (east-west) area at the eastern edge of our survey area. Data recovered using a Fluxgate Gradiometer and a Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) were combined and mapped along with some of the UPAG nail cloud and artifact data. While most areas within our original 400 X 400 foot block did not present anything substantial, the southeastern portion of the remote sensing area, remarkably close to the current waterline, presented interesting data!

Results from the fluxgate gradiometer, showing the location of Units 1-4, and Feature 1.

The gradiometer results suggested that a number of anomalies were situated in the eastern and southeastern portions of the remote sensing survey area. But it was the GPR that really revealed what was present in those areas. Technology is amazing! The MHT crew was able to detect a roughly 45 x 80 foot anomaly, a probable foundation with a possible porch abutment on the northwest side of the house (facing the original river channel). The short axis of this structural anomaly appears to fit perfectly in-between the two concentrations of architectural artifacts as sketched by field crew (the two blue polygons in the image below). This could possibly correspond to the front and back entrances of the house! Naturally, as any archaeological project goes – you always find the most exciting piece of information on the last day possible and thanks to rising waters and the global pandemic that has kept us all home bound, we haven’t had the chance to get back out to do more investigating!

Raw GPR time-slice image (left). Same image (right) with linear anomalies (dashed red), artifact concentrations (blue), and gradiometer/mag anomalies (orange) mapped.

We are in the process of cataloging and analyzing all the data thus far collected and hope to revisit the site as soon as we can! As of now, this is the earliest and northern-most documented middling tobacco plantation on the Patuxent River, and we hope to learn a lot through further investigations. Much of the “official” colonial history of Howard County begins with the Ellicott brothers. Hopefully, this site will shed new light into the period of colonial settlement that preceded them. At a time in Howard County history where many farmers were switching from Tobacco as cash crop to a more diversified economy, it will be interesting to see how these changes play out archaeologically!

If you are interested in volunteering with this project or have any information to share regarding early 18th century plantation archaeology in the Piedmont, please contact Kelly Palich at kpalich@howardcountymd.gov.

  • The Raven Site and environs - showing the barren nature of the site area.
  • Aha...we relocated the site thanks to this little piece of Staffordshire Slipware! UPAG Volunteer Jim Hagberg
  • Patent Plat showing Hutchcraft’s Fortune, Anne Arundel County Patent Certificate # 1629

Works Cited

Clark, Wayne E., and Paul Inashima
2003      Archaeological Investigations within the Duckett and Triadelphia Reservoirs – Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. On file at the Maryland Historical Trust, Crownsville, Maryland.

Luckenbach, Al and Lauren Schiszik
2006      The Raven Site (18HO252): An Early 18th Century Plantation in Howard CountyMaryland Archeology 42(2): 15-23.  

Mayre, William B.
1921      The Baltimore County “Garrison” and the Old Garrison Roads.  Maryland Historical Magazine 16(2).

1955      The Great Maryland Barrens: I.  Maryland Historical Magazine 50(1-3).

Schiszik, Lauren and Al Luckenbach
2006      A Controlled Surface Collection and Metal Detector Survey of the Raven Site (18HO252) at Tridelphia Reservoir, Howard County, Maryland.  Prepared for Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission. Anne Arundel County Trust for Preservation.  On file at the Maryland Historical Trust, Crownsville, Maryland.

MHT Re-establishes the Maryland Fluted Point Survey

By Zac Singer, MHT Research Archaeologist

I am pleased to announce that the Office of Archaeology at the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) is re-establishing the Maryland Fluted Point Survey (MDFPS), which was first formalized in the late 1960s by Tyler Bastian, Maryland’s first State Archaeologist. The Maryland Fluted Point Survey will compile data on the distinctive projectile points created by the early Native Americans known to archaeologists as Paleoindians. This data will be synthesized to study the lifeways of the Paleoindians who lived in Maryland during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Middle Paleo Point

Middle Paleo Point, from Brown 1979, Fluted Projectile Points in Maryland.

As a homegrown Marylander and Paleoindian researcher, reinvigorating the Maryland Fluted Point survey has been a long-time goal of mine. Dr. Bob Wall at Towson University first introduced me to the field of Paleoindian studies. I completed high school and college internships, during which I studied the likely Paleoindian materials recovered from deep test excavation units at the Barton Site (18AG3) in Allegany County. I continued to study the Paleoindian occupations of Eastern North America while earning my Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut. During my graduate studies, one of my graduate advisors, Dr. Jonathan Lothrop, Curator of Archaeology at the New York State Museum, launched the New York Paleoindian Database Project (NYPID) to continue the statewide fluted point survey in New York begun in the 1950s by Dr. William A. Ritchie. After seeing the exciting data being generated by NYPID and also by the Paleoindian Database of the Americas (PIDBA), I resolved to re-launch the Maryland Fluted Point Survey when given the opportunity.

3D Photogrammetry
For those who aren’t familiar with fluted points, included in this announcement are links to 3D models of two Paleoindian fluted points found in Maryland. These models were produced using a process called 3D Photogrammetry and we are making the files available in a number of formats. If you own a 3D printer, you can even download an STL model file to print your own 3D copy of these points.

  • This fluted point from the Richard Gates Slattery collection is likely a Late Paleoindian Dalton projectile point made of orthoquartzite.
  • You can download a copy of the model which you can move and manipulate in Adobe Acrobat Reader by right-clicking the link HERE and saving the PDF file to your computer. NOTE: the model will not work from your web browser.
  • You can download a copy of the model to replicate it on your 3D Printer by clicking HERE.

  • This fluted point from the Paul Cresthull collection is an Early Paleoindian Clovis point made of jasper.
  • You can download a copy of the model which you can move and manipulate in Adobe Acrobat Reader by right-clicking the link HERE and saving the PDF file to your computer. NOTE: the model will not work from your web browser.
  • You can download a copy of the model to replicate it on your 3D Printer by clicking HERE.

History of the Maryland Fluted Point Survey
The very first issue of Maryland Archeology in 1965 included a survey of fluted points by M. D. Dilks and G. M. Reynolds. Beginning with the establishment of the Division of Archeology at the Maryland Geological Survey (MGS) in 1968, Tyler Bastian formalized a fluted point data form to compile information on Maryland fluted points that were reported to him through his role as the first Maryland State Archaeologist. In 1979, Lois Brown organized the fluted point data at the MGS and documented additional fluted points in the artifact collections of avocational archaeologists to produce a synthesis on 71 fluted points recovered throughout Maryland. Rick Ervin, archaeologist with the State Highway Administration, took on the stewardship of the Maryland Fluted Point Survey in the late 1980s. In the early 2000s, Ervin relinquished oversight of the Maryland Fluted Point Survey to MHT.

Goals of the Maryland Fluted Point Survey

  • Data generated by the Maryland Fluted Point Survey will be synthesized to study the lifeways of the Paleoindians who lived in Maryland between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago.
  • Fluted points will be recorded systematically to include their history of discovery and ownership, locational information, fluted point type, and stone raw material. Digital photographs and detailed measurements of the fluted points will also be collected.
  • These data will be synthesized to generate a chronological and geographic overview of Paleoindian occupations in Maryland. Chronological comparisons will be made based on fluted point typology. Land use strategies will be investigated through geo-spatial comparisons of provenience within physiographic regions and on the county-level. Trends in raw material use and mobility throughout the Paleoindian period in Maryland also will be examined.

Call for Data
All Archeological Society of Maryland (ASM) members, avocational archaeologists, Paleoindian researchers, professional archaeologists, and interested members of the general public are asked to contribute to this effort by sharing information on Maryland fluted points in public and private collections. Dr. Zachary Singer, MHT Research Archaeologist, will coordinate the Maryland Fluted Point Survey and meet with informants to record data and photograph each fluted point. Fluted point data recording sessions can take place at the MHT Offices in Crownsville, at ASM chapter or annual meetings, or at another location convenient for the contributor.

As Maryland Fluted Point Survey forms are completed, the data will be entered into an electronic database. County-level provenience data will be made accessible to the public through MDFPS web links and through the Paleoindian Database of the Americas (PIDBA) site. Strict confidentiality will be maintained with regard to precise site locations and collection ownership information to protect these resources.

Many people have contributed information to the Maryland Fluted Point Survey since the survey’s inception in the late 1960’s and their help is much appreciated! It is hoped that the re-established Maryland Fluted Point Survey will provide an outlet for scholars, professional archaeologists, avocational archaeologists, and interested members of the public to document and learn about Maryland’s early Native American inhabitants.

April IS Maryland Archeology Month

By Charlie Hall, State Terrestrial Archeologist

Every April since 1993 Marylanders have celebrated Archeology Month. Officially proclaimed by the Governor as a celebration of the remarkable archeological discoveries that provide a tangible link to at least 12,000 years of human occupation here, Maryland Archeology Month has annually provided the public with opportunities to become involved and excited about archeology.  With a variety of events offered statewide every April, including exhibits, lectures, site tours, and occasions to participate as volunteer archeologists, Archeology Month elicits the gathering of interested Marylanders at various occasions to share their enthusiasm for scientific archeological discovery.

Did I say “gathering”?  Well, we seem to have a conflict this year between our desire to gather together and do some archeology, and our shared responsibility to observe an appropriate social distance in groups not to exceed 10, and now to stay at home, in an attempt to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.  How can these two disparate callings be reconciled?  Like the heroes who are working hard to manufacture M95 masks and respirators, we have been working – albeit with perhaps not the exact same sense of urgency – on how Maryland Archeology Month might carry on in this time of careful isolation.  There is a will, and we have found a way.

This year’s Maryland Archeology Month theme – Partners in Pursuit of the Past:  50 Field Sessions in Maryland Archeology – lends itself to digital sharing.  The Field Sessions in Maryland Archeology are 11-day intensive archeological research investigations held every spring in partnership between the Archeological Society of Maryland, a State-wide organization of lay and professional archeologists, and the Maryland Historical Trust, a part of the Maryland Department of Planning and home to the State’s Office of Archeology.  While these two partners host the event every year, others are required to make the Field Sessions happen, including researchers/Principal Investigators, archeological supervisory staff, property owners, and volunteers from the public.  Each of these partners is essential.  Without any one of them the Field Sessions don’t happen.  Maryland Archeology Month 2020 is a chance to shine a grateful spotlight on all these necessary partners in the Field Session program.

2020 Maryland Archeology Month Poster

2020 Maryland Archeology Month Poster

Here is your first digital opportunity to engage with Maryland Archeology Month:  you can access downloadable versions of the Archeology Month 2020 poster and booklet online at the Archeological Society of Maryland’s website (https://marylandarcheology.org/, scroll down and click on the poster image to access the Maryland Archeology Month website).  The poster depicts a lively scene from the 2015 Field Session, held at the Biggs Ford Native American village site in Frederick County, and highlights the various kinds of partners present.  The booklet contains 40 pages that are jam-packed with information about the Field Session program, organizations doing or promoting archeology in Maryland, and volunteer opportunities in Maryland archeology.  This year the booklet features 13 essays written by Field Session partners, including three by researchers/Principal Investigators, two by archeological supervisory staff, four by officers of the Archeological Society of Maryland, one by a property owner, and four by volunteer archeologists.  These short, non-technical essays relay the authors’ recollections and reflections on their Field Session experiences.

Filling different partnership roles, the different individuals bring different life and professional experiences to the Field Sessions, and take different experiences from them.  As research endeavors, the Field Sessions must be under the direction of a qualified researcher with an anthropological interest in the site being studied who is responsible for designing the investigation and ensuring that it is properly carried out.  Researchers can come from universities, state and county agencies, and consultancies, and each meets strict professional standards.  Each site is owned by someone, and the property owner’s willingness to welcome a small army of sunburnt, dusty, and exuberant professional and volunteer archeologists on to their property is critical to each Field Session.  The sites of past Field Sessions have been owned by state agencies, county agencies, private individuals, and organizations.  While involving many sophisticated scientific techniques and instruments, archeology is at its core low tech and labor intensive.  It requires a lot of patient people wielding small hand excavating tools and carefully moving a lot of soil.  The labor pool powering the Field Sessions is the public.  In classic Tom Sawyer fashion, the public is enticed to pick up shovels and trowels and work for anywhere from a partial day to all 11 days excavating in the hot sun, often on their hands and knees.  Many volunteers take vacation time to participate in the Field Sessions.  They are the backbone of the Field Sessions, and they seem to really enjoy themselves.

With the first Field Session occurring in 1971, this year’s represents the 50th.  (Mark you calendars for May 22nd through June 1st and plan to join us at the Billingsly site in Prince George’s County.  Watch the Archeological Society of Maryland’s website for registration materials and updates.  We’re still crossing our fingers . . . )  The forty-nine previous Field Sessions have been held on 36 sites in 14 counties across the site. Twenty-five of the sites were Native American occupied (prehistoric), ten were historic aged, and one had both prehistoric and historic components.

Here is your second opportunity to connect digitally with Maryland Archeology Month:  Want to know more about the past Field Sessions?  Do you wonder where they occurred, or which were prehistoric and which historic?  Are you curious about the research conducted at each?  A team of talented professional archeologists have created a StoryMap of the 50 Field Sessions.  This map-based app is interactive, informative and entertaining.  Visit https://mdarchaeology.github.io/Annual-Field-Sessions/ or scan the QR code printed on the cover of the booklet and on the poster, or click the link on the Maryland Archeology Month website, to investigate the distribution of Field Session sites across the state, learn details of the archeology found on each, and see pictures from the past!

50 Field Sessions StoryMap

50 Field Sessions StoryMap

It is my hope that these digital experiences will connect you virtually to other Marylanders as you collectively, yet individually and at home, celebrate Maryland Archeology Month!  Several of the events planned for April will be rescheduled, and at them you will be able to pick up physical copies of the poster and booklet.  Watch the Maryland Archeology Month website for updated information.  I wish you an engaging, and healthy, Maryland Archeology Month!

 

Welcome, Zachary Singer!

The Maryland Historical Trust is pleased to welcome Dr. Zachary Singer as Research Archeologist in the Office of Research, Survey, and Registration. Zac will primarily be responsible for maintaining the Maryland Archeological Synthesis Project, summarizing Phase II and III compliance archeology reports in MHT’s library. Zac will also participate in grants management, archeological fieldwork, and will conduct research on collections entrusted to MHT’s care.

Research Archeologist, Dr. Zachary Singer

Zac’s interest in Maryland archeology was first piqued as a student at Towson High School, when he interned with Dr. Bob Wall of Towson University, studying his Paleoindian assemblage from the Barton site. Zac went on to earn his B.A. at the University of Maryland, College Park and gained field experience under the direction of Dr. Stephen Brighton and Dr. David Gadsby. Zac took a hiatus from Maryland archeology to earn his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut where he excavated and analyzed New England Paleoindian sites under the guidance of Dr. Kevin McBride, Dr. Jonathan Lothrop, Dr. Daniel Adler, and the late Dr. Brian Jones.

After receiving his doctorate, Zac returned to Maryland to teach and conduct research, once again, in the archeology of his home state. Prior to joining MHT, Zac taught and conducted research through a Visiting Assistant Professorship at Towson University, as an adjunct professor at Washington College, as a 2016 and 2017 Gloria S. King Research Fellow at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, as a contractual archeologist for Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division, and as Public Programs Coordinator for the Lost Towns Project, Inc.

Zac’s major research interest is Maryland’s prehistoric occupations with a particular focus on studying the Paleoindian period to refine interpretations of Maryland’s earliest inhabitants. Zac is also keen on collections based research, analyzing (or re-analyzing) artifact collections generated by both professional and avocational archeologists in order to glean information about Maryland’s past.

Zac may be reached by telephone at 410-697-9544 or by email at zachary.singer@maryland.gov.

A Summer Exploring Maryland’s History by Land and Sea

A Summer Exploring Maryland’s History by Land and Sea

By Stephanie Soder, 2019 Summer Intern in Maryland Archeology

Having recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Maritime Studies (Archeology), I was excited when I was chosen as the Maryland Historical Trust’s summer intern. I grew up just over the Mason-Dixon border in Pennsylvania and spent about half of my life in Maryland, so I was happy to be back in the state I considered “home”. The MHT Archeology staff wasted no time in throwing me into the chaos of gearing up for the annual Tyler Bastian Field Session that was taking place at Billingsley House in Prince George’s County.

The Author examining a prehistoric pit feature exposed during the 2019 Field Session
(Drone imagery courtesy of Ryan Craun, M-NCPPC).

Though the Billingsley House dates to the 18th century, this 11-day field session focused on finding two 17th-century Native American villages. I was charged with keeping the field lab running smoothly and the site forms organized. Water buckets and toothbrushes came out every day for artifact washing, allowing volunteers to take a break from digging in the heat. Every tenth bucket coming from each unit was water screened through a ⅛” mesh, hoping to reveal small trade beads (and creating quite the mess). By the end of the session, 12 units had been opened, resulting in artifacts ranging from pre-colonial lithics and ceramics to nails, faunal remains, and fire-cracked rock. Thanks to the hard efforts of the lab volunteers, almost all of the artifacts were washed and weighed by the end of the last day.

The remaining time of my internship was split between a variety of projects. I was able to work on projects that met my interests, and though I love to be out in the field, I challenged myself by taking on tasks that I was not as familiar with: Section 106 review and compliance, artifact identification, and remote sensing.

A Late Archaic projectile point recovered at Billingsley (Photo by the author).

Compliance archeology focuses on ensuring that federal and state funded projects limit impacts to the historical integrity of sites around Maryland. Dixie Henry and Beth Cole shared their expectations for compliance reports and gave me federal and state standards for archeology and architectural studies to read. They then allowed to me to review some compliance reports and tag along on a consultation meeting with the National Park Service to mitigate impacts to historic sites while building their new C & O Canal Headquarters. The time I spent learning about compliance has reinforced my appreciation for the work that goes into protecting our historical resources.

My graduate research focused largely on Pacific Islander culture and modern conflict, so getting familiar with artifacts found throughout Maryland was a necessity. I spent much of the second half of my internship in the lab cleaning, identifying, and photographing artifacts from previously completed fieldwork in Janes Island State Park (Somerset County). I then began working on site forms and compiled a report that highlighted research on each type of artifact find. There’s no better way to learn how to complete a task than getting to do it first-hand, and I feel that my time working with the artifacts helped familiarize me with examples found around Maryland and the resources available for identification.

Most of my previous work involved excavation or evaluation with very little training in remote sensing. Under the tutelage of Matt McKnight and Charlie Hall, I learned how to run a magnetic susceptibility meter and a fluxgate gradiometer. Putting what I had learned to the test, we set out for a new site that may be associated with an ordinary dating from the origins of Caroline County. I assisted with using the gradiometer and practiced with the magnetic susceptibility meter. The collected data will help with future work on the site by the Caroline County Historical Society. Out on Janes Island, Troy Nowak put me to work completing a side-scan sonar and bathymetric survey in Maryland waters. With a steady hand and concentration, I learned to follow transect lines while driving a boat in order to collect data consistently. The rest of the week was spent surveying the shoreline and tracking how it has changed over time in order to evaluate potential impacts on historical sites.

The author collecting marine remote sensing data off of Janes Island (Photo by Troy Nowak).

My summer at MHT came to an end far too quickly, but it has been an extremely rewarding experience. It has helped prepare me for a career in Maryland, and I’d like to thank the entire staff at MHT for their guidance, patience, and for providing me this amazing opportunity.