Who we are

The Lost Towns Project is a team of professional archaeologists and historians, working closely with the government of Anne Arundel County, Maryland to discover and explore the County's rich heritage. The team is committed to sharing the discovery process of this incredible heritage with the public through hands-on experiences, publications, lectures, and exhibits. In this blog, we will share some of our exciting discoveries, updates, and events. Check out our website at www.losttownsproject.org for much more, or to learn how to become a volunteer or intern! No experience is required to assist us in field investigations, laboratory studies, archival research, and interpretive programs. Join us to rediscover the History in your own backyards!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Article about Pig Point in the Edgewater Patch!

Hello lovely blog followers! Our excavations at Pig Point have been featured in an article in the Edgewater Patch, an online news source. It's a two-parter, and we'll post the second part tomorrow! 



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Archaeology through the Eyes of an Intern

Written by Jillie Drutz, Lost Towns Intern

I’ve been studying it for two years, never having picked up a trowel and itching to finally get out in the field and really learn the art of archaeology. My love and fright of anthropology propelled me to do this internship with the Lost Towns Project. After spending two days in the field at Pig Point and one day at the archaeology lab in Londontown, I found out that it was nothing like what I expected. Nonetheless, it was still amazing and I was right about one thing: the history came alive.

At Pig Point, the wonderful archaeologists and volunteers patiently taught me the basics. I learned how to dry and water screen for artifacts, excavate a unit, and fill out a provenience card by measuring and recording elevation, and analyzing artifact content and soil. In the world of archaeology, the most important thing is context (location, location, location of course). While taking all of the meticulous recordings and measurements and carefully troweling the unit, it was difficult to understand exactly why this was important. It wasn’t until we finished excavating a specific stratigraphic layer of a unit, that I realized that stratum was destroyed. Those meticulous measurements preserved the material history.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kicking off the Summer Field Season

Written by staff member Lauren Schiszik, Internship Coordinator

This past week, we had a great start to the summer field season, with an orientation for our summer archaeology interns on Thursday, June 2, and our Saturday Dig Day at London Town on June 4. While we don't have the record-breaking 17 interns that we had last summer, we are still in the double-digits with 14 interns. The majority are doing archaeology, two are doing historic preservation, and one is doing historical research. The students bring a broad range of backgrounds and interests, and range from high school to college graduates. We are happy to host all of them and are looking forward to a productive and educational summer!

Dr. Al teaches interns about archaeology in Anne Arundel County
at the intern orientation.

This season, we are trying something new. Interns will be writing weekly blogs, so that readers can get a fresh perspective on our excavations. Look for the first intern blog entry next week!

We're focusing our excavations this summer on Pig Point and Rumney's Tavern at London Town, and would love to have volunteers come and join us! Alternatively, you can take the "armchair archaeologist" approach and read about our finds here throughout the summer from the comfort of your air-conditioned office or home. 


Monday, June 6, 2011

Exciting finds from Pig Point and London Town

Written by staff member Stephanie Sperling; Photos by volunteer Barry Gay:
Two bottles found in the pit; circa 1880 (left)
and circa 1680 (right)
 For those of you who missed Dig Day at London Town last Saturday, let me tell you about two of our really interesting finds.  First, as field director Shawn and former intern Mark (making a guest appearance for dig day) dug through the deep pit behind Rumney's Tavern, they came across a soil horizon that contained two large bottle fragments.  Oddly enough, one dated to the late nineteenth century while the other dated to the late seventeenth century!  Finding these two bottles about nine feet below the ground surface means that the pit must have been filled in sometime around 1880, but how did an intact bottle neck from 200 years earlier also end up there?  Right now, Dr. Al's working theory is that this might have been a brick-lined colonial well robbed out in the 1880s.

Shawn and Mark measure their excavation depth in the deep pit

Revolutionary War pewter button from
London Town cast with the letters "USA"
Erin also found a really neat Revolutionary War-period button in the screen.  This pewter button is in remarkably good shape considering its age and that it came from the plow zone (we often find degraded, crumbling pewter resulting from centuries spent in the harsh London Town soil).  This particular button was cast with the letters "USA" on the front and dates to the late 1770s or early 1780s.  This style was typical of George Washington's Continental Line infantry and was found in a unit dug just north of Rumney's Tavern.

Middle Woodland period pipe from Pig Point
We continue to find amazing artifacts this season at Pig Point.  Last week, we found a highly unusual pipe fragment in Middle Woodland context in the large midden.  This striking pipe bowl has incised rectangles and squares above several horizontal lines, making it the most elaborately decorated pipe fragment yet found at the site.  Interestingly, it looks very similar to a Middle Woodland pipe found at the Abbott Farm site near Trenton, NJ.  Pig Point has been called a "sister site" to Abbott Farm for several reasons.  Both are located in similar riverine settings and each has contributed greatly to the knowledge of regional prehistory.  Also, both sites are deeply stratified and seem to have particularly interesting Middle Woodland components.

Middle Archaic hearth in profile; note the debitage
and fire-cracked rock scattered around it

Finally, I am thrilled to report we just got a radiocarbon date back from a deep hearth feature discovered in early May.  The charcoal recovered from this ancient firepit produced a calibrated date of 4560-4460 BC!  That means this was used sometime about 6400-6500 years ago, placing it squarely in the Middle Archaic time period.  This hearth was found under a dense layer of debitage and worked flakes about 2.5 feet below the ground surface, and you can see in the picture that it plunged over a foot deep.  This is our first Middle Archaic feature at the site, further proving that people have been living at Pig Point for thousands of years.