Washington DC – Day Trip 3 – Anne Arundel County 4B

Here’s your chance to learn more about some of the Native Americans who had the first contact with English colonizers, and most of these tribes paid for that experience, dearly.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
647 Contees Wharf Rd., Edgewater, MD 21037

Here you can walk the Java Trail, an outdoor exhibit, which leads to a re-created Piscataway Indian hunting lodge village, a tobacco plantation exhibit, early 20th-century dairy farm artifacts and a marsh walkway.

This is a Smithsonian Institute archaeological site. The displays are related to the ways of life of the Piscataway Tribe in the 1600’s – 1700’s. Then this major Maryland-Virginia Algonquin tribe began to suffer at the hands of the Europeans.

In Anne Arundel County, Maryland archaeologists have uncovered an Algonquian Indian camp on a bluff above a lush bend in the Patuxent River. This is a find that includes the oldest human structure ever detected in Maryland. Native Americans have inhabited this land for at least 11,000 years.

Artifacts show that the campsite is in a location favored by native people for centuries because of its bounty of fish, shellfish and game. They began occupying this particular site more than 2 centuries before Christopher Columbus set sail from Europe.

The dig uncovered:
___ traces of signature oval Algonquian wigwams
___ rare tools made of stone, bone and antler
___ fragments of a highly decorated pottery
___ an intact paint pot
___ and a broken gorget, a dark stone polished and drilled for use as personal decoration.

It may be in the running for the most important prehistoric site in the state.

Carbon 14 testing was used in dating charcoal from a hearth. The results found outside the outline of the wigwam suggests that the site was occupied between 1290 and 1300, making it the oldest dwelling ever discovered in the state. Outlines of other dwellings at the site might even be older.

County archaeologists are searching for clues about Native American settlements in what became Anne Arundel County. They found a trove of pottery, arrowheads and perhaps even the remnants of a wigwam near Jug Bay.

However, so far, they haven’t found evidence for their specific target: a Middle Woodland Period settlement from roughly zero to A.D. 900.

Instead, there are plenty of shards of earlier and later settlements, including amazing finds like 10,000-year-old spear points!

Al Luckenbach, county archaeologist. “There’s just a lot of everything else.” They still hope to find their target community, as it has to exist.

On the dig, in property overlooking the Patuxent River near Jug Bay, archaeologists and volunteers from the county’s “Lost Towns Project” dug a series of test pits to determine if there was any evidence of prehistoric settlement on the site.

After finding arrowheads and decorated pottery shards, from coil-style pots, wider pits were dug.

Shells of now locally extinct freshwater clams piled up in the corner of one hole right next to what seems to be a fire pit. “I was thinking they could have a little prehistoric clambake here,” Luckenbach quipped.

It’s amazing that the Native Americans were so under-valued by the people they helped to survive when they came from Europe to build a new life. So much of these tribal ways are gone and the people are extinct or scattered, for the most part. Learn more at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, on the Mall in Washington, DC. Ask lots of questions there, and see how you can support the efforts to help us learn about and help these largely hospitable, forgotten peoples.

Read more here:
National Museum of the American Indian
Why Learning About Native Americans Is Important
History of Western Shore Algonquins and Iroquoi Tribes, Maryland and Virginia
Smithsonian Institution’s Ecological Research Center

Washington, DC Travel – Archived Articles

©2011 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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