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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Dennis Pogue, 05/1981
Arundel Cove Archeological Site
Inventory No.:
Other Name(s): Coast Guard Site
Date Listed: 7/21/1983
Location: Anne Arundel County
Category: Site
The nomination is marked Not for Public Access. Qualified Medusa accountholders should please contact the MHT Librarian for a copy.
Description: The Arundel Cove site is situated on the south shore of Arundel Cove, a tributary of Curtis Creek which drains into the Patapsco River. The site was discovered during routine shovel test pitting of the U.S. Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay in 1981. The test pits revealed that the site is small in size, extending only 20 feet north-south by 15 feet east-west. The current extent of the site was truncated by previous road construction which destroyed the portion of the site located to the east and west. However, the integrity of the remaining portions of the site is indicated by the discovery of an Indian storage pit and in situ artifacts in the sandy matrix of the B-horizon soils. The pit was bisected and profiled, revealing five layers of ash and soil containing carbonized seed remains. Carbonized seeds included galium and wild black cherry. Non-carbonized grape, sassafras, pokeweed, and black walnut seeds were also found, but may date to after the prehistoric period, having worked their way into the pit by root and insect action. The presence of wild black cherry and galium indicate occupation of the site from May to September. Available data indicates that the Arundel Cove site represents the remains of a prehistoric summer camp which apparently was not repeatedly occupied, based on the homogeneous nature of and sparcity of the artifacts recovered. No diagnostic artifacts were found, but the site has the potential to yield such artifacts upon further testing. Significance: The Arundel Cove site is an apparent single component prehistoric summer camp site located at the head of a brackish water creek in the Patapsco River drainage. Besides being one of the few known sites in the lower portion of this drainage to survive intensive industrial development, the site contains the only reported prehistoric period storage pit recorded in the Patapsco River basin and is the only site in Maryland which has yielded evidence of the prehistoric use of galium and wild black cherry. Excavation of the remaining half of the storage pit and of other potential features at the site may shed additional information on the poorly understood diets of the Indians of Maryland. While chronologically diagnostic artifacts were not found, the limited number of quartz flakes recovered suggest that this may be a single component site. Small sites representing the possible remains of limited visits to a locale are highly significant because the distribution of the artifacts and features can be more readily interpreted as activity areas, compared to sites consisting of overlapping occupations spanning thousands of years of prehistory. The combination of in situ features containing floral remains with the apparent single-component nature of the site makes the Arundel Cove site significant for future settlement and subsistence pattern studies in the Chesapeake Bay region.


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