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!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Autumn at Pig Point

Written by Stephanie Sperling, LTP Archaeologist

We are in the process of wrapping up the 2011 Pig Point field season after a rough September.  Back to back hurricanes and over 23 inches (!) of rain caused serious damage to the site, resulting in slumped walls and major clean up time.  Before the floods, we excavated the new Upper Block units through 15 levels and finished nearly five feet below the ground surface.  We were FINALLY hitting non-cultural horizons about one foot beneath a hearth that radiocarbon dated to over 9,000 years old.  No diagnostic artifacts were found in these levels, but several pieces of debitage suggest that we may actually have intact Paleoindian horizons at the site.  We'll keep looking for those levels in 2012.

In the meantime, Shawn has been excavating four new Lower Block units.  He made it through the Woodland period midden and has recently been investigating thick Late Archaic horizons that are filled with projectile points.  This assemblage will make an interesting comparison with the Archaic triangles and Piscataways found during the 2009 season (check out Al, Jessie, and Shawn's paper about this topic here: http://www.losttownsproject.org/publications/articles/Triangle%20points%20-%20Luckenbach,%20Grow,%20and%20Sharpe.pdf).  Two weeks ago, he discovered several large quartz rocks set in a pit that may date to the Middle Archaic time period.  One of the stones weighed at least 25 lbs and was surrounded by hammerstones and quartz debitage.  Quartz cobbles like this can be found within a day's journey of Pig Point but not on the sandy bluff itself.  We think this might be local material hauled to Pig Point by the Middle Archaic residents to use as an on-site quartz quarry!  This could also partially explain the pounds and pounds of quartz debitage found in Middle Archaic horizons across the site. 

Quartz cobbles during excavation

Quartz cobbles partially exposed (we paused excavation between
arbitrary levels)

New excavation block showing prehistoric
and historic features

At the end of the season, we opened up a block of six new units near an ancient spring that was most likely used by the prehistoric residents of the site.  We found more of the Woodland period midden and several hearths and post hole features, along with large Townsend pot breaks, in the Late Woodland horizons.  This area of the site was also used by the colonial residents of Pig Point as their main thoroughfare to the Patuxent River.  Called Blue Shirt Road, this swale was used for nearly 200 years by people making their way to the bustling wharf and town in the lowlying area of the site.  Subsequently, we have found several historic period levels and a number of colonial artifacts near the edge of the road.  This is interesting because we have excavated relatively little left during the town period, which lasted from the early 18th century through the early 20th century.
Erin excavating Townsend pottery found in the new excavation block

Stop by the lab this winter and check out some of the amazing things we found in 2011.  We are up to over 250,000 artifacts after three field seasons! 

-Steph (and our newest Lost Towns Project staff member, Sam!  He even has his own trowel!  Thanks, Erin)