Friday, February 10, 2012

Bladensburg Archaeology Website

At the moment there are no excavations being conducted in Bladensburg. The analysis and results from the 2008-2010 excavations are nearly complete. To showcase some of the findings, the State Highway Administration created a fantastic multimedia website about the history of Bladensburg, complete with interactive paintings and maps. Check it out here!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bladensburg Archaeology Presentation, June 15, 2011 - Anacostia Watershed Society

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and the University of Maryland will present on the archaeology of Bladensburg. The event is hosted by the Anacostia Watershed Society and will be held at the George Washington House. All community members are encouraged to attend!

The evening will include the first public viewing of a recently completed painting on the Battle of Bladensburg. The scene depicts Commodore Joshua Barney being paroled by Admiral Cockburn and General Ross on the battlefield. After the unveiling of the artwork, Dr. Julie Schablitsky, SHA Chief Archaeologist, will present on the archaeological findings from the Magruder House, Market Master’s House, and the Indian Queen Tavern.
WEDNESDAY, June 15, 2011
Time: 7:00 PM

The Anacostia Watershed Society
George Washington House:
4302 Baltimore Ave.
Bladensburg, Maryland 20710

RSVP this event at the Anacostia Watershed Society by calling:
(301)-699-6204 (extension 109) or

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Issue of the CRAB newsletter/ Post-excavation work continues

It has been nearly three weeks since our excavations at the Market Master's backlot finished. Artifacts have been taken to the lab and are being washed, analyzed and catalogued.

The last day of work saw us carefully drawing the soil profiles we revealed in our test units, puzzling at what appeared to be the dark cultural soil of an occupation that left little other than the traces of artifacts. If a structure did stand here during the 18th and 19th centuries, it left little evidence of its shape and size. In contrast to the heavy stone sturdiness of the Market Master's house it is difficult to imagine structures so transient that they simply, nearly, disappeared with time! And yet we know that much of Bladensburg was occupied by such structures, and that the four buildings that stand from this time period (George Washington, Magruder, Market Master and Bostwick houses) are exceptional as masonry constructions.

The new issue of the CRab Bulletin is available for download. The CRaB is the State Highway Adminstration's Cultural Resources Bulletin and it is filled with details about some of the projects the folks at SHA are looking in to. Check out this season's issue for articles on the Scorpion Project and a "mystery building" unearthed in Frederick, Maryland. It can be dowloaded here:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Market Master's house backlot, Day 10: "Last Day, Well Almost...."

Just a quick update for the day. It was hot today. Really hot! A record breaking day for the 24th of September in this area. Luckily, our favorite ice cream truck, Mister Magic, showed up to provide us with some cold sweetness.

We rushed to finish up our units, and finished all the excavation for the rest of this year in Bladensburg. We still have a little bit of profiling to do next week. We will also post some blogposts to sum up the preliminary site findings and showcase some of the really unusual artifacts we found this past field season. Keep in touch!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Market Master's backlot, Day 9, "One Day Left!"

This post is from Janet Donlin. Janet has worked on almost all of the sites here in Bladensburg, and has also done her share of artifact analysis and preparation for the project:

Tomorrow is our last day here at Market Master’s, and we have our work cut out for us. We have three units left to dig, two of which we opened up yesterday. Frank, Jen, and Courtney are about a foot into unit 18, and Rick, Molly, and Nicole are blasting their way through unit 17. There’s some good news for me and Mike in our unit…we’ve finally got a unit with some cool artifacts! Today we pulled out a bone button, the neck and mouth of a bottle with an applied lip, a fancy looking piece of iron that could possibly be part of a gun or door hardware, a pewter utensil, and a very nice piece of a bowl with a multi-chambered slip featuring horizontal tri-colored twigs and green glazed rilling. Put this all together, and it looks like we are well into the early 19th century. We’ve also recovered a lot of big chunks of bone, some of which are burnt.

Unit 17 is already into the prehistorics. The unit was opened up yesterday, and dug through pretty quickly. There was a 20th century feature in the southwest corner, and they have recovered a lot of 19th and late 18th century ceramics, but few colonial artifacts. They are finding a lot of rhyolite and some quartzite flakes, all debitage so far. It is really interesting to see which units are yielding the colonial artifacts and which are showing a strong prehistoric presence. Most of the colonial artifacts seem to be concentrated in units closest to and directly behind Market Master’s house. We have yet to find a privy, though, and it’s still a mystery to where that might be.

Unit 18 is still at a more modern level. They’ve been recovering a lot of nails, more modern ceramics and glass, and some pretty large pieces of shell edged wares. Unit 18 is right between two units that found lots of great prehistoric points and flakes, so perhaps this unit will find that as well.

We have one more day to dig and three units to finish up, but we have a lot of great archaeologists out here and we should have no problem wrapping things up. We’ve found a lot of really neat things, but I have to say my favorite is probably the little plastic dinosaur from the first day. It’s just so cute!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Market Master's house backlot, Day 8: "Julie's Assesment"

Only two more days left to dig in the Market Master’s backyard. As expected, we may have the ephemeral remains of an outbuilding. In several of our units, we discovered dozens of badly decomposed nails and fasteners associated with the colonial stratum. Although it is a bit too early to make conclusions about our findings, it appears that when Christopher Lowndes built his stone house in 1760 he eventually added an outbuilding behind the house. The building does not appear to be residential since there are so few personal items.
Other updates include the conclusion of one of the most disturbed units on the site. To the far south, we discovered numerous 20th century intrusions and metal pipes. (see picture, left) It is amazing that only 15 feet to the north there is a beautifully stratified prehistoric site with colonial artifacts sprinkled on top. The last decision of the day is whether or not to open another unit….it only gives us two days to excavate, but we can spill over to next week to finish this last unit. The new unit will connect the prehistoric tool production area and the area with beautiful colonial artifacts such as featheredge creamware, debased scratch blue stoneware, (picture, left) and a French gun flint.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Market Master's house backlot, Day 7: "Unit 15 Update"

Today we have an update from University of Maryland student Jen Allen who spent the day working on Unit 15 where they have been point proveniencing all the flakes coming out of the unit. This means they mapped in the location, including depth of each piece of prehistoric stone tool-making waste for later analysis. Jen had this to say:

"It’s been an exciting day today at the Market Master’s House. I have been helping Frank excavate TU 15, the unit directly west of TU 12, which yielded so many rhyolite flakes last week. TU 15 has not disappointed as the concentration of rhyolite flakes clearly continues. In one level alone 100 rhyolite flakes were recovered along with 2 sherds of Native American ceramics and a large quartzite cutting or chopping tool. (see picture below, left) The plan for the next level was to take a pollen sample and after only a few trowel cuts into the soil what we think could be an archaic bifurcate quartz point was found. (picture below, right) I’m looking forward to see what else this unit has to offer and how far back in Bladensburg’s past we’ll go."