Friday, May 29, 2009

The Market Master's House and Square: An Introductory History

Here is a little background information about the Market Master's House. We will start the excavation on Monday. A bit of interesting historical research about the house has come in, which we will share with you in the coming weeks.

The Market Master’s House, also known as the "Ship Ballast House", is situated adjacent to Annapolis Road and Kenilworth Avenue. It is located just to the east of the Magruder house. The building, associated with the earliest period of the town’s development, serves as an important surviving example of eighteenth-century vernacular architecture. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In October of 1742, the Maryland legislature voted to create the town of Bladensburg on the east side of the Anacostia River. As they had done for several of Maryland’s other incorporated towns, lawmakers required a certain amount of investment on the part of those who wished to settle one of the 60 town lots laid out there. New property owners, called “Takers-up” in the bill, were required “within Eighteen Months after taking up … [to] build and finish…one good, substantial, and tenantable House with one Brick or Stone Chimney thereto, that shall cover 400 square Ft of Ground” (Archives of Maryland 2006: 451-452). Takers-up who failed to build in the allotted time would lose their stake and the lot could be resold with proceeds going to the town commissioners.

In 1746, the town commissioners created a geographic anchor for the town by designating lot 37, located a few blocks from the public landing, as a market square. By the revolutionary period, the village was an important port and home to 35 households, including several taverns (e.g. George Washington House/Indian Queen Tavern), merchants (e.g. Market Master’s House), doctors (e.g. Magruder House), and artisans. A tobacco warehouse stood on the market square by the 1780s. While no above-ground remnants of the market square or the nearby market lanes remain, the small house on lot 38, today called the Market Master’s House, remains intact and is listed, with the small parcel of land on which it sits, on the National Register of Historic Places. The building - a stone house with a 500 square-foot footprint and a substantial chimney is representative of the minimum effort specified by the town’s enactment law for takers-up to retain the property.

Here is a resurvey map from 1787 showing the Market Master's Square (shaded lot 37). The Magruder House is located in lot 27, to the west. The lot in between is currently occupied by Kenilworth Avenue:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Market Master's Public Day

We are planning our open site day for the Market Master's House excavation. The excavation will start on the first of June and run for two weeks. The open site day will be on the 6th of June. We will give the public a chance to see what we are doing, and take part in the dig.





















We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gazette Article Out

The Gazette released a nice article about the project on their website. They also assembled a video from all the footage they collected of us. Here is the link to the article:
http://www.gazette.net/stories/05212009/portnew172218_32534.shtml

and here is the video. It features some great interviews with Julie and Tara:
http://www.gazette.net/video/DigHY052109/DigHY052109.html

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

GPR Technology and the Magruder House

We wanted to introduce some of the neat technology we are employing in our investigations. Last November we contracted Bryan Haley of the University of Mississippi to conduct a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey of the three properties. This survey helped us to look underground at the three properties, to help us plan where to dig. Here is a video of what resulted:

video

GPR works by sending electromagnetic pulses underground, which bounce off buried objects like artifact deposits or masonry features. In the video, buried objects, called anomalies, appear as brownish or yellowish blobs. It takes a trained eye to interpret these shapes into meaningful information. Bryan wrote us a report with recommendations for what we should concentrate on in our investigation. At the moment, we are examining the images from the Market Master's House to help plan our excavation. This gives us a chance to look underground before even picking up a shovel!

Here is Bryan's website: http://www.olemiss.edu/research/anthropology/haley/

Monday, May 18, 2009

Julie's Bio/ Interim Report

Here is a bio from Julie, chief archaeologist of the Bladensburg Archaeology Project:

"Hello, my name is Julie Schablitsky and I manage the Cultural Resources Section at the Maryland State Highway Administration and serve as their Chief Archaeologist. I am originally from Minnesota, but received my master's and doctoral degrees in Oregon. I moved across the country to Maryland about four years ago and have completely fallen in love with the archaeology of this area. I hope that our great team of archaeologists can help discover new information about the people who called Bladensburg home."

Right now we are cleaning and taking inventory of our gear after completing the excavation of the Magruder House. Artifacts have been sent to the lab for washing and analyzing. Meanwhile, historical research is being collected on the three properties we will examining in this project. Additionally, an architectural survey is being compiled. We will add some of this information to future posts.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Day Ten: Document, Back Fill, Clean Up...

Today we finished up our units, documented everything we could, and filled them back in with soil. Two weeks of slow excavation returned to normal in about three hours. Now begins the work of analyzing and cataloguing all the artifacts we recovered. Stay tuned for updates on the analysis and identification of artifacts from the Magruder House, as well as some history lessons and maps to prepare us for the next excavation, the Market Master's Square and House. Here is a narrative from Benjamin Stewart on the importance of our last duties on the site:
"Today we are profiling and backfilling the units. When we profile we make a map of the strata of the test units. When the report is being written, these maps can be used to tie together units in different locations and determine which strata are oldest, the deeper being earlier. They are a very important part of recording the test units that we have finished.
We also have to go over our paper work and make sure we recorded everything properly. As archaeologists, we are the last people to see the cultural material before destroying its context. What we record and the artifacts that we collect are the only things that future historians and archaeologists have of the work done here."
And Lisa Kraus, looking back at the excavation:
"Doing urban archaeology is fun, because as you excavate, you can slowly assemble an image of the past landscape, despite all the changes that have occurred over the hundreds of years that the city has existed. It sounds pretty cheesy to describe our square test units as “windows into the past”, but in a very real sense, that is precisely what they are. At Magruder House, we’ve opened up several windows, and we can see a lot from here.

We’ve talked about several of our individual discoveries – we’ve got British half pennies, prehistoric projectile points, the remains of childrens’ toys (dolls, marbles, etc), and of course the usual complement of ceramics, architectural debris, faunal bone, personal items like buttons, pins and thimbles, and a host of other interesting items. It seems appropriate, for the last day of fieldwork, to talk about what it all means. I took a little poll around the site to get a variety of perspectives.

Nichole Sorenson-Mutchie, SHA’s lab director, thinks one of the most interesting outcomes of our excavations is the discovery that people lived here thousands of years ago. The prehistoric site is located near the crest of the hill where the Magruder House is situated. The discovery has led to a detailed understanding of the past landscape. One or two thousand years ago, this sandy little hill was located along the banks of the Anacostia River, and it appears that there may have been a small seasonal camp here, where people hunted with rhyolite projectile points and cooked their food in large ceramic jars.

Nowadays, people can head to the other side of the hill and get spicy fries at the Checkers.

Architectural Historian Melissa Blair finds the Magruder House excavations encouraging from a preservation perspective. She points out that when the State Roads Commission purchased the property in the 1950s, the plan was to demolish the house. Many people who lived in Bladensburg objected, and managed to stop the destruction. Now, 50 years later, the site is being excavated by Maryland State Highways – so this project tells us a lot about the ways big state agencies’ priorities have changed – now we’re working with various community groups to interpret the history of the house, Bladensburg, and the town’s role in the War of 1812. That’s a dramatic shift in perspective!

Archaeologist Susan Peltier enjoyed doing urban archaeology for the first time, and was impressed by the quality and quantity of 18th century artifacts we recovered – especially the gorgeous smorgasbord of 18th century ceramics. We found everything from fancy Chinese teawares to robust European stoneware. We literally had a little bit of everything: scratch blue stoneware, Staffordshire slipware, Chinese porcelain, salt-glazed stonewares, creamware, pearlware – a veritable checklist of diagnostic ceramics from the colonial to the modern.

Many of the other crew members cited the long and complex history of occupation, the exciting and beautiful ceramics, the surprise of finding intact archaeological deposits at all in the middle of such a developed urban landscape, and the challenge of understanding the complex clues to the site’s past as highlights of the experience.

My favorite thing about the Magruder House is the way our various sources of information converge. I tagged along on a tour of the standing house the other day, and got to learn about the ways the residents modified the structure through time in response to shifts in fashion and taste. I see echoes of the same kinds of changes in the artifacts. For example, at one point, the front of the house, which was originally built using hewn fieldstones, was plastered over with stucco to present a smooth, even, and symmetrical fa├žade – very de rigeur in the late 1800s.

In the ground, we found remnants of the most fashionable ceramics from the Georgian era as well – so we know that the residents of the house not only created a dwelling that was positively a la mode, but followed through with the most desirable dishes. These were people who were dressed, housed, and ready to serve guests in style. I like to see these little psychological clues in the archaeological record, and it was very gratifying to see the stamp of a demanding and fashion-savvy personality in the very design of the dwelling.

We even managed to garner a few small clues about the house’s relationship to the Battle of Bladensburg- the British coins, a fragment of a small glass medicine vial – could these items represent a link to the house’s role as a field hospital during the War of 1812? This is another wonderful result of our two weeks of fieldwork – more questions. Hopefully we’ll have as much success in the upcoming fieldwork at the Market Master’s House…"

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Day 9: Time Is Flying By! One Day Left at the Magruder House.

"Hi, my name is Richard Ervin - I’m a Senior Archeologist with the Maryland State Highway Administration. I graduated from the University of Maryland (College Park) and then spent about 10 years in Tucson where I got a Master’s from the University of Arizona. I’ve been with State Highways for 20 years.

I just finished my second day of excavations at the Magruder House. Mayor Walter James stopped by this morning to pay us visit. We showed him some of the artifacts we’ve found over the last two weeks, and explained our field methods. Mayor James hopes to join us in early June when we start excavations at the Market Masters House. We promised him that by the end of a day of digging he would be a pro!

On Tuesday I excavated in the unit farthest from the house, in soil layers dating to the middle eighteenth century. We found many pieces of animal bone in an excellent state of preservation. Once we get back to the lab we’ll be able to figure out what kinds of food the occupants of the Magruder House were serving. We found a wide variety of pottery types dating between 1740 and 1780, during the early occupation of Magruder.

This fall, I’m looking forward to starting excavations at the Bladensburg Battlefield. Although there has been a lot of development in the area where the battle occurred, we hope to find intact remains from the day almost two hundred years ago when British soldiers fought their way into the Nation’s Capital."

Update on the Native American component of the site. Yesterday we found these two bifaces (spear or knife points). They are probably LeCroy bifurcate base points. They are made of metarhyolite, which can be found in Western Maryland. Most people consider them to be Early Archaic, or circa 5,000-7,000 B.C. Bladensburg's archaeological history just extended by about 5000 years!














All over the site we are mapping, photographing and interpreting the profiles of the units we dug before we cover them back up tomorrow. The profiles are the vertical surfaces of the units that show us a cross section of the way the soil has been deposited at the Magruder House.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day 8: Post 2, Some Photos From Today's Action

Please see the Crew Bios posting below!

Tomorrow we will get some of the inside scoop on what has been going on around the site. Meanwhile, here are a few bonus photos of today's action. Below are some photos of volunteers John Lewis (on the left) and Walt Pfarr (on the right) hard at work processing artifacts. Along with Lab Director Nichole Sorenson-Mutchie, they are starting some of the most laborious and time consuming aspects of our labor: the washing and sorting of artifacts. Also pictured are field staff Kristen Heasley and Tara Giuliano tackling the bottoms of two very different test units.













































Day 8: Post 1, Crew Bios

Here are some short biographies of the great crew we have out here. In previous posts you have read some short narratives of their experiences out here. Here is a little bit about them:

I’m Jenn Babiarz, an archaeologist with the Maryland State Highway Administration, with a Master’s of Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland at College Park. Right now I’m in the dissertation writing phase of my Ph.D. work at the University of Texas at Austin. My main interests are in African Diaspora archaeology, particularly in the Chesapeake, and activist archaeology. I’ve been particularly interested in the SHA’s War of 1812 archaeology project because of its public component; I spent six years teaching at the University of Maryland’s Field School in Public Archaeology. Getting people engaged in the retelling of their community’s history is always fulfilling and exciting.

Hi my name is Tara Giuliano and I work for the State Highway Administrations cultural resource section. I grew up in upstate New York and I received my B.A from the University at Buffalo. I really enjoy working in the field of archaeology and discovering new and exciting things- and I am super excited to be a part of the Bladensburg project!


Hello! My name is Kristen Heasley, and I have been in CRM for three years. I love the excitement of being able to travel and discover fun things in my work. I am especially interested in prehistory, and in the fall will be traveling to the UK to earn my MA from Southampton University in Paleolithic Archaeology and Human Origins.


John Lewis: My interest in Archeology began with a survey course in the mid 70’s. I then went on to the Maritime side after getting certified in Scuba with a course in the Florida Keys about ship construction and exploring Spanish ship wrecks. Moving to Maryland in 1980 gave me the opportunity to join the volunteers working under the guidance of Bruce Thompson. Terrestrial experiences came through participation in the C A T program with Bruce, Jim Gibb, Charles Hall and Julie Schablitsky. I’m currently working the Magruder House site and have been washing and sorting a great variety of artifacts.


Susan Peltier
Received BA-H Anthropology from McMaster University, Ontario, Canada in 1992 and moved to Utah shortly after. Began CRM in 2004 and have worked in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. Moved to Maryland in 2007 and have continued CRM work.


My name is Vincent Shirbach, I am an archaeologist out of Gaithersburg, MD. I have a bachelor’s in History with a concentration in archaeology from Hood College in Frederick, MD. I plan on obtaining a master’s in Cultural Anthropology from one of multiple great institutions in the DC area.



Hi, I'm Nichole Sorensen-Mutchie and I'm the director for the Bladensburg Archeology Project. I've been an archaeologist and lab manger at the Maryland State Highway Administration for the past two years. I received my BS in archaeology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and my MS in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I think this is a really exciting project and I'm happy to be a part of it!


Hello I am Benjamin Stewart from Greenfield Ohio. I graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and have been working as an archaeological field technician for the better part of the past ten years. I am currently a URS employee. I am excited to be part of the excavation of the Magruder and Market Master houses. I have not had the opportunity to work on a late colonial site nor a site associated with a battlefield, and this area has both present.

My name is Michael Roller. I am a graduate student at the University of Maryland, Department of Anthropology and a resident of nearby Riverdale Park. I am working for the State Highway Administration to help organize the public outreach for this project. It has been really interesting to speak with members of the public about their ideas of history, preservation, community and the environment. The Magruder House is a really interesting site because, though it has lots of well known historical figures and events associated with it, there are also thousands of years of human occupation that are a mystery. I also like working here because I can bike to work along the peaceful Anacostia River every morning.

Day 7.5: NBC News Link

Here is a video from NBC news:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Archeologists_Dig_for_Maryland_s_Role_in_War_of_1812_Washington_DC.html

Day 7 Press Day, New Features, Community Networking













Mike Roller: “Today was a great day for connecting to communities near and far. It started with press day. Television reporters from several local channels, including 4 and 9, came out and did interviews. A few stations had stories on the evening news. (if you happened to see a story give us a shout!) Julie gave a short talk and tour of the site. The rest of us acted as normal as we could in front of all the cameras. Working hard and making discoveries, as we do everyday… In fact, we found interesting features in several units today. A possible prehistoric feature in one area, and a possible historic feature in another area. We will know more about what they are tomorrow.

Carol Ebright, a specialist in Native American archaeology from the State Highway Administration came out and examined the potsherds we discovered yesterday. She thinks they are Accokeek grit-tempered sherds and may date to between 900 to 600 BC. (for more info on Accokeek: http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Prehistoric_Ceramic_Web_Page/Prehistoric%20Ware%20Descriptions/Accokeek.htm) We like to say, "It wasn’t expected, but it is not surprising that this spot was occupied by Native Americans". Actually, a member of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe came out today to view the site and told us that oral history sources indicate dense Native American occupation up and down the Anacostia River, ending at the area around Bladensburg where the Northeast and Northwest Branches split. This is the spot where anadromous fish would swim up and mate, and Native Americans would set up their fishing weirs.

This evening we went to a community networking meeting in the Bladensburg Town Hall. We met mayor Walter James and council members Walter Ficklin and Charlina Watson . The purpose of the meeting was to inspire networking and dialogue between community organizations and businesses. Five of us came out to represent the State Highway Administration and the University of Maryland. We listened to, and spoke with, representatives from local businesses and business development groups, civic organizations, town services, religious organizations and youth training and empowerment groups. Some of these included the Bladensburg Local Development Corporation, Port Towns Community Development Corporation, the Bladensburg Rotary Club, the Bladensburg Police, the Bladensburg Library, the Maryland National Capital Area park and Planning Commission, the Pastoral Lay Council, Choices for Success and the Kiwanis club.

It was a very productive and interesting evening. As part of the public outreach portion of the project we are going to develop an educational curriculum and a traveling display and presentation. Several of the groups we met were interested in having a talk or a presentation given at a meeting. These included a youth organization called Choices for Success that gives youth after school support and study help, the Bladensburg Library, the MNCPPC summer playgrounds program and the Rotary Club.

If you represent an organization in the Bladensburg community and might be interested in having a short talk on our project, perhaps later in the summer please contact us at bladenarch@gmail.com

Tomorrow, back to the archaeology. Only three more days left at the Magruder House. In June we will start work on the Market Master’s Square and House. I can't wait to see what comes out of those features tommorow!"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 6: Ceramics of the Colonial Era

Nichole: "It’s been another great day of excavations at the Magruder House. I’ve been primarily working in the field lab so I get the fun of seeing all the artifacts as they come in from the test units. With John’s help, we’ve been trying to keep up with the artifact washing as the bags come in. When we wash, it isn’t exactly high tech. We use a tub of water and a toothbrush to “wash the dishes” as John would say.
I thought I would talk about some of the early period ceramics we washed today. The first is feather edge creamware. It’s a cream colored earthenware with raised feather-like molding. Creamware in general was mostly used for tablewares during the second half of the 18th century. The decoration helps us date it further to around 1765.
Another example of early ceramics is called English Brown stoneware. It is a thicker, utilitarian ceramic used for bottles and drinking vessels. Artifacts of this type can be found in America from about 1690 to 1775.
Other ceramics pictured are tin glazed earthenware, scratch blue stoneware, and shell edged pearlware. To learn more about early ceramics found in Maryland, visit: http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Index.htm. Different artifact types pictured which are made of ceramic/clay but not used in the kitchen/dining room are bisque porcelain doll parts and ball clay pipe stems."


















Elsewhere on the site, we found some ceramics of an earlier era. Two large sherds of Native American pottery. One looks like it has the impression of a net or fabric impressed on it, and the other has the impression of cording. Here is a picture of them. Once we learn a bit more about them we will share it with you:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Day 5: Good Weather, Doll Parts, Public Tours

The weather held up beautifully today, which made it easier to work on a Saturday. We opened up two additional units based upon information we gathered in the first four. One of them will explore an area further away from the house, where we may have the chance to find traces of outbuildings that may be underground. Vince worked really hard to get through a tough network of roots. At the end of the day yesterday, we found a possible prehistoric feature at the base of another unit. It looks like a mysterious linear stain in the sand, deep below ground. We decided to open the adjacent unit to "chase it down" and explore it some more.

Elsewhere, we have been finding a plethora of late 19th and early 18th century artifacts. Do you remember that doll head we found on Day One? We found two more doll heads today! Here is a narrative from Field Staff Tara Giuliano:
"The unit I have been working on with my dig partner Ben has been full of porcelain and bisque doll faces. We can tell they are a part of a doll’s face because of how it is shaped, how thick it is, and the “fleshy” color of the porcelain. Some of the pieces also have features like ears, eyes and hand painted eyebrows. We have also found doll figurines such as the one pictured below. It has a detailed face and a cute bonnet and is probably from the mid 1800’s." (the bonneted one is in the lower left of the dustpan)
























Julie, gave some great site tours for our public day. If you didn't have a chance to attend, we will have another one when we start the Market Master's house in June. Here are some photos of the the tours:



















This photo shows the diversity of materials coming out of the units. This is the kind of data we archaeologists love!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Day 4 - One Mystery Leads to Another

Another exciting day in the field. We are getting towards the bottoms of our first set of test units. Every era of Bladensburg's history is in evidence. We found some evidence of the restoration of the Magruder house, and earlier work on the house, in context with artifacts from the time period. In one area of the site we are finding a Native American occupation that occupied the slope overlooking the spring and the Anacostia River long before Bladensburg was created. We found explanantions for some of the mysteries from yesterday, such as the strange "Chinese coin" we found at the end of the day yesterday.
Here is a video from Julie Schablitsky, our chief archaeologist and principal investigator, talking about some of our finds:
video

And here is a narrative from field staff Jenn Babiarz:

"I was out here working on Tuesday when we first started exploring the archeology of the site and today we are really beginning to understand some of the landscape changes that have been occurring over the last few hundred years. Part of what makes urban archaeology so interesting is its complexity; people in the past were very imaginative with their use of space in a small area, particularly in how they combined or separated their work and living spaces.

Today we’ve found 20th century fill in the back yard on top of some historic living surfaces. Some of the artifacts we found include clay marbles, butchered bone (you can even see the saw marks from where they cut it!), pipe stem, lighting glass, the base of a bottle made with a snap case mold (a late 19th century technology), and lots of kinds of ceramics. Not to mention lots of brick, mortar and nails! Most of the ceramic and glass was broken up pretty small, which is typical for what archaeologists call yard scatter. Yard scatter is the little pieces of trash that end up in yard living and work areas that get missed during sweeping and that get walked on daily (and therefore getting broken up into small pieces)".

Here is a picture of our field lab, trying to keep up with the steady stream of material we are bringing out of the ground:



Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day Three - Hard Work in the Rain Pays Off!

Another great day in the field! We were dodging rain storms all day, but still got quite a bit done. Some of the mysteries from yesterday are becoming clearer, and some new mysteries appeared. Some finds today included 18th and 19th century ceramics, fragments from Native American-toolmaking, a Chinese coin, button pieces, a spoon. And a mystery coin.... Here is a narrative from one of our fieldstaff, Kristen:

"The Magruder House is a really exciting project because it is a piece of history nestled in the busy urban bustle of modern Bladensburg, Md. Today I’m working with Mike on TU 4, which is located on the east side of the house. Today we’ve uncovered two features- probably a modern walkway comprised of two parallel lines of smallish quartzite stones that appear to form a sort of walkway, with smoothed gravels as the footpath, and a large, dark stain in the southeast corner of the unit. Only nails, both wire and square, and some window glass is being found in the stain. We have found some really exciting historic artifacts outside of the stain, including a pipe bowl and stem, and a silver (copper?) coin about the size of a quarter. The coin features a woman sitting, with some letters around the outside, “ORGIVS.” The coin, and those found in other units today, are going to be taken to a conservator who will hopefully be able to clean them and preserve them to the point that we can identify them as diagnostic artifacts."

And some pictures from the day: Julie and Nichole digging test units, a spoon from Test Unit 3, the crew huddled under the shelter in a rain storm, Susan troweling out Unit 3.





This weekend we'll post some bios of our crew and some old and new images of the Magruder House.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A few photos from today's fieldwork

Here are a few photos of today's fieldwork to add to the post below. They include: our field lab operated by John, test unit excavation by Ben and Tara, and a buckle (military related?) we found.
We had a great day in the field today. We opened up two more units, and found traces of the whole history of the Magruder house from the present all the way to Native American settlement! (see below) Now we would like some of our crew to introduce themselves and write about their experiences.
Bio: My name is Vincent Shirbach, I am an archaeologist out of Gaithersburg, MD. I have a bachelor’s in History with a concentration in archaeology from Hood College in Frederick, MD. I plan on obtaining a master’s in Cultural Anthropology from one of multiple great institutions in the DC area.
“We have officially begun excavation of the Magruder House property located on Annapolis Road in Bladensburg! This project is part of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, a highly publicized, historic event. I am excited to be part of this archaeological evaluation because it is rare that we have the chance to get back to the theoretical side of the science. We of course did not create the history that is here, but we are certainly responsible for developing its documentation and accuracy.
The house itself has its roots in the 18th century, and has maintained importance in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. George Washington even stopped by for a visit way back when! As such, we are looking for a chronological variety of artifacts, but for our purposes here, we are hoping to find war relics. American troops used this house as a hospital, so we are searching for evidence like buttons, equipment, medical supplies, etc. So far, one unidentified button has been recovered close to the house. I’m hoping we’ll be able to uncover a plethora once most of the test units are put in. So far we’ve just begun, who knows what we’ll find out here!!!”


Bio: My name is Michael Roller. I am a graduate student at the University of Maryland, Department of Anthropology. I am working for the State Highway Administration as a Crew Chief and to help organize the public outreach for this project. It has already been alot of fun. I am a resident of nearby Riverdale Park and have enjoyed biking to work along the peaceful Anacostia every morning.

"Today we found artifacts from many era's of Bladensburg's past. At this stage of excavation historic soils are really mixed up. While looking through the soil I have seen ceramics and glass from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. We have found wine bottle fragments from the 18th century, mason jar fragments from the 1950's, remodeling waste from the 1980's, plastic pen fragments from the 1990's. Less like a trip back in time, it is like history in a blender! But it is all exciting to me. Anyways, there are hints that as we get deeper into the soils, the materials we find may be more organized, less chaotic.
I was really excited to find this today (pictured). It is a chert or rhyolite flake from Native American toolmaking. The spot that the Magruder House sits on is perfect for indigenous habitation, with the proximity of the spring at the rear of the house, the plentiful resources of the Anacostia floodplain just beyond. I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!"