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Annual Archeology Field Session

River Farm site. Credit: Stephanie Sperling
River Farm site. Credit: Stephanie Sperling

This cooperative venture between the MHT Archeology Program and the Archeological Society of Maryland runs 11 days, inclusive of weekends and the Memorial Day holiday, and is open to the public. The purpose of the Field Session is to train lay persons in archeological methods and teach Maryland's past through hands-on involvement, while making meaningful contributions to the study of Maryland archeology.

The annual Field Session, now in its 45th year, has investigated sites ranging from Archaic camps to Late Woodland villages to historic mills and plantations. It has been held in 14 of Maryland's 23 counties, and has examined 32 different sites.

Excavation at River Farm. Credit: Stephanie Sperling
Excavation at River Farm. Credit: Stephanie Sperling

2016 Annual Field Session

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.

During the upcoming Field Session, at least three areas of the site will be investigated, including:

  • a Late Woodland midden that yielded a C-14 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.

River Farm artifacts. Credit: Stephanie Sperling
River Farm artifacts. Credit: Stephanie Sperling

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.

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!


For More Information

For more information on the field session, or on how to join the Archeological Society of Maryland, contact Dr. Charlie Hall at (410) 697-9552.