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Maryland's National Register Properties

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Iron Hill Cut Jasper Quarry Archeological Site
Inventory No.:
Date Listed: 12/16/1983
Location: Cecil County
Category: Site
Period/Date of Construction: 8000 B.C. -1000 A.D.
Related Multiple Property Record: Prehistoric Quarries of the Delaware Chalcedony Complex
The nomination is marked Not for Public Access. Qualified Medusa accountholders should please contact the MHT Librarian for a copy.
Description: Lithic materials at the Iron Hill Cut Jasper Quarry were exposed by a combination of stream cutting and slope wash erosion. Cryptocrystalline materials are exposed along a 70 meter section of the southeastern side of a linear knoll. The cryptocrystalline material in the quarry exhibits the full color range of jasper and chert. The veins of the jasper grade from yellow to red. Although this is sometimes considered evidence of purposeful thermal alteration, the absence of changes in surface texture, coupled with the massive size of the colored outcroppings suggest this condition results from weathering. Two activity areas were identified at the site: the quarry itself and a primary lithic reduction station. The uneven quality of the lithic material obscured evidence of flaking on the quarry face. Two large, primary flakes, however, were found among the jasper nodules at the foot of the outcropping suggesting quarry utilization. Artifacts were discovered along the bank of a deeply cut stream, approximately 30 meters from the quarry. Subsurface testing identified an extensive primary reduction locus extending 44 meters along the bank and approximately 10 meters from the edge of the bank. The artifacts recovered in this locus include blocky fragments and thick primary flakes of jasper and chert containing a high proportion of cryptocrystalline inclusions. Two jasper cores, a jasper flake tool, and a fragment of a possible hammerstone were also found. The artifacts recovered closely match the color and quality of lithic material observed in the quarry. Portable blocks of the cryptocrystalline material were removed from the quarry area and carried to the primary reduction locus where poor quality material and manufacturing rejects were discarded. Cores of substantial size and consistent quality lithic material were produced. There is no evidence for the secondary reduction of preforms at the site. Significance: Two activity loci are contained within the site; the jasper/chert quarry and a primary reduction station. The site is associated with a nearby lithic reduction site bearing Middle Archaic and Early and Middle Woodland points. These sites comprise one of three quarry systems recorded during a survey of Upper Delmarva Peninsula sites. The loci at the site are undisturbed and contain in situ cultural materials, and there is a possibility that earlier cultural material is present. The site provides information on lithic procurement and tool manufacturing activities. The sites listed in the Delaware Chalcedony Complex Thematic Group contain artifacts indicative of the entire series of tool production activities for the prehistoric inhabitants of the Upper Delmarva Peninsula region. For most prehistoric groups of this region stone tools were the basis of their food procurement and processing activities and the manufacture of these tools was a critical activity in their lives. Therefore, the sites in this particular group provide an opportunity to study an important activity of prehistoric groups that should shed considerable light on their adaptations and lifeways. The significance of the sites in this group is underscored by the fact that the cryptocrystalline outcrops of the Delaware Chalcedony Complex are unique to the Upper Delmarva Peninsula. Each site represents one or more spatially separated stages in the sequence of lithic procurement and utilization. Therefore, the sites must be considered collectively, within the context of the group, in order to illustrate the entire process.


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