Thursday, May 20, 2010

Posted by Richard Ervin, Senior Archeologist,

Maryland State Highway Administration:

Day 2 of excavations with a full crew: Thursday. After our rainout on Tuesday, and mild cloudy weather on Wednesday, we had full sun and temperatures in the 80s today – enough to get a good sunburn if you don’t watch it!

Tom and I are working in Test Unit 1 at the far east end of Trench 1. Although we are mired in the 20th century (possibly the late 19th by the end of the day today), we are finding some interesting material. Yesterday afternoon we came down on a brick surface, (see photo above) and by the end of the day it was apparent that it covers most of the floor of our 5-by-5. Today, we found that a second course of bricks lies under the top layer – and that we appear to have some sort of structure floor. It’s also possible that it may represent a paved work area or drive.

The stratum above the bricks in TU 1 contains mostly early 20th century diagnostic artifacts – a crown bottle cap, wire staples, a .22 cartridge, a molded glass tumbler, and ceramics that appear to 20th century, or late 19th at the earliest. We also found two clay marbles and 3 blue glass beads – each of which was found as two separate half-spheres. Were they manufactured in two pieces, or were they all split while I was troweling? I didn’t think I was being that heavy-handed! However, we’ll have to see if we can find any information on such beads.

We left one quadrant of the bricks in place and took out the rest of the upper course of bricks. Mixed into spaces between the brickwork, we found a copper rivet, a stud clothing fastener manufactured of milk glass, undecorated and polychrome whiteware, along with various nails, window glass, and the like. After taking some record photos and completing our paperwork, we started removing the lower course of bricks from three quadrants of the unit. Here, we started to find what appears to be earlier 19th century material (probably around mid-century) including one blue transfer print whiteware and one piece that may be annular ware. At the end of the day, under the lower brick course, we found a small figurine. Was it placed here intentionally? At this point we can’t say.

Frank and Janet have gotten down into the 18th century in TU 2 immediately to our west – some creamware, Rhenish blue stoneware, white salt-glazed stoneware, and tin-glazed earthenware. They also have some interesting features in their unit – in particular, a postmold that lies just west of our brick floor. The posthole and postmold feature contained later material, generally late 19th century artifacts that appear to match well with the brick structure. Perhaps the brick floor and post feature are related.

Lisa found the biggest honkin’ piece of delftware we’ve seen, although they may have found something larger at Londontown ... also a piece of Whieldon Ware. One postmold was excavated – unfortunately nothing was recovered in the fill, but there are several areas of brick and mortar that appear to indicate other structural features in the unit. The good news is that they are finding lots of pipe fragments and wine bottle glass – both very much what would be expected in a tavern assemblage!

Julie was working at the far west end of Trench 1, in TU 4. She has another feature, an a brick pile or foundation. As expected at this depth at the west end of Trench 1, she has early artifacts – a clay marble, Rhenish and white salt glazed stoneware, tin-glazed earthenware, and creamware, along with some nice pieces of bone.

In Trench 3, excavated to the north parallel to the first trench, Mike and Molly have been working on a strange configuration of rocks that, at the end of the day, was starting to look like a stone foundation. (see photo below) The artifacts from the inside of the structure all date to the 18th century stuff: tin-glazed earthenwares, nicely hand-painted in polychromatic flowers and stripes. Early stuff! This probably dates to the earliest days of Bladensburg’s history. We’ll see what tomorrow brings...

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