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!

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Study of Prehistoric Sites along the Patuxent River

Today's blog comes to us from recent intern, Stacy Poulos.  Stacy has been helping us assemble data for our new grant studying the prehistory of the Patuxent River drainage.  Since she did such a great job during her internship, we decided we couldn't let her go and hired her to assist our architectural historian, Darian Schwab.  Welcome aboard, Stacy!

As many archaeologically-inclined friends of Lost Towns know, the Project has been delving deep into the prehistoric past of Maryland. The stratigraphy of Pig Point is redefining our understanding of prehistoric chronology, while the Middle Woodland study of the past few years has illuminated the richness of Anne Arundel County’s prehistoric heritage. Past studies show that one of Maryland’s main arteries of prehistoric civilization and trade is along the Patuxent River. With a grant from the Maryland Historical Trust, the Lost Towns Project is creating a spatial database of prehistoric settlements in the Patuxent watershed that will enable us to approach questions about environmental choices, artifact distributions, trade networks, and the spatial relationship of different kinds of sites. Furthermore, such a Geographic Information System will allow us to determine which sites warrant further study or need preservation efforts.

We are not restricting our study to the Anne Arundel County side of the Patuxent drainage. In order to get a more complete representation of the area, we are jumping over county boundaries and incorporating a number of Prince Georges County sites as well. In Anne Arundel County alone, there are 198 prehistoric sites along the Patuxent drainage! Out of a large pool of recorded sites from both counties, we have selected about 10 sites to be included in the database.

Our research into our first test case brought home the fact that further study often leads to further questions about the past – not just the past from thousands of years ago, but the past from just 50 years ago! To gather information about each site, we have to revisit the previous studies that were conducted. Our first test case revealed that an excavation from 1968 had left behind no records and the artifacts were missing! As we hunted through old letters, avocational archaeologists’ notebooks, donated collections, county storage, and the Maryland Archaeological Conservancy, it became clear that we also need to do archaeology of past archaeological research. This study is revealing not only the rich prehistoric past of Maryland, but the oral traditions and networks among past archaeologists. As we continue forward with the project, we are excited to find more about our prehistoric and our recent past.

Stacy created this map to show the Patuxent drainage and the sites we are studying for the new grant 

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