38th Annual Spring Symposium on Archeology

Maryland's Changing Landscapes: From the Rise of the Chesapeake to the Rise of the Suburbs

Presented by the

Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc.,
Historic St. Mary's City
and the
Maryland Historical Trust, Office of Archeology

Saturday, April 26,2003
People's Resource Center
Crownsville, MD

The Richard E. Stearns Memorial Lecture

The Richard E. Stearns Memorial Lecture is named in honor of Richard E Stearns (1902-1969), curator of the Department of Archeology at the Natural History Society of Maryland for more than 30 years. Mr. Stearns located numerous archeological sites in the Chesapeake area, and carefully documented his surface and excavated finds. He published numerous archeological articles and several monographs, and donated his collection to the Smithsonian Institution. A commercial artist by profession, he was nonetheless a pioneer in Maryland archeology, instrumental in recording much of Maryland prehistory.


A Brief History of the Chesapeake Bays
Jeffrey Halka, Maryland Geological Survey

The alternating glacial advances and retreats of the Pleistocene, each of which had an associated sea level lowering and subsequent rise, have created at least three Chesapeake Bays over the last 500,000 years. Flooding of the river channels for the present Chesapeake Bay began approximately 10,000 years ago, and by 5,000 to 6,000 years ago the rising waters spread beyond the narrow confines of the valleys and a broader bay began to form. Since that time the Bay has expanded in size due to the deposition of sediments on its bottom, which is gradually filling in the deep axial channel and the shallower benches flanking the channel. The history of formation, erosion and infilling of the Chesapeake Bay will be examined in this talk.

Archaeological Impacts in a Landscape Sculpted by Wind and Water: The Relationship Between Geology, Climate, Environment, Ecology, and Prehistoric Societies Living in the Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain
Darrin Lowery, Chesapeake Watershed Archaeological Research

Over the past four decades, there have been major advances in the fields of geology, paleoclimatology, paleoecology, and coastal geomorphology. With respect to the prehistoric Delmarva Peninsula, we can now integrate these advances into interpretations about the archaeological record. Unlike the inland piedmont and upland areas of the Middle Atlantic region, the Atlantic coastal plain of the Delmarva Peninsula and the drowned river valleys of the Chesapeake Bay have undergone major ecological changes over the past 13,000 years, which greatly impacted prehistoric subsistance ptterns, and technological trends. Expressions of these changes will be presented and the archaeological expressions of these changes will be summarized. Finally, a critical evaluation of some suggestions for future integrated research.

Sea Level Rise and Changing Landscapes at the Holland Pint Site (18DO220)
Jesse Walker, Temple University

Archaeological investigations at the Holland Point Site provided an opportunity to examine landscape changes over time. The Holland Point Site, an Archaic through Woodland period settlement on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is located in a unique setting. Artifacts and other cultural material at the site are preserved below a tidal salt marsh. Risings sea levels over the last 10,000 years have inundated the site. Interpretations of the ancient landscape underneath the salt marsh, landscape development over time, and the ongoing effects of shoreline erosion are presented in this paper.

Nanticoke Identity through Time and Across Space: an Archaeological Explication
Virginia Busby, U.S. Army Environmental Center

A Nanticoke Indian identity can be traced archaeologically and historically from at least the later Late Woodland period through the post-European Contact period. Research at the Chicone Village site examined what constituted “being Nanticoke” through this time by looking at the organization of people in space and in relation to each other, artifact type and distribution, and historical socio-political information.

Recasting the View: Excavating the Historic Landscapes of Mount Calvert
Mike Lucas, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Mount Calvert is a picturesque rural landscape located along the Patuxent River in eastern Prince George’s County. Like most landscapes, Mount Calvert has been reconfigured countless times to suit the needs of its inhabitants. This presentation combines data from a multi-year archaeological study by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Natural and Historical Resources Division, Archaeology Program and three consecutive Archeological Society of Maryland Field Sessions and the historical record to examine how the landscape was altered by various inhabitants between 1696 and 1940 according to practical concerns as well as political and social aspirations.

Chesapeake Waterscapes: The Oyster Industry and the State Fishery Force
Rick Ervin, Maryland State Highway Administration

Preliminary assessment of the archeological potential of a property acquired by the Baltimore Museum of Industry in 1994 revealed several partially submerged vessels, including the remains of the Governor Robert M. McLane, an iron-hulled, propeller steamer that served as flagship of the State Fishery Force. This presentation will explore aspects of the Chesapeake Bay waterscape related to the history of the oyster industry and the State Fishery Force; the effects of over-exploitation; and early conservation efforts. The McLane is considered significant for its prominence in Maryland history, and as outstanding symbol of our early efforts to preserve, protect, and restore the natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Iris McGillivray Memorial Lecture

Iris McGillivray was a founding member of the Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc., ably serving the Society for over thirty years as Secretary, President, Newsletter Editor, Field Session Registrar, and Membership Secretary. She is perhaps best known, loved, and respected for her organization of the annual Spring Symposium, first held in 1965, arranging all aspects of the day-long program. In 1991 Iris was presented with the Society's William B. Marye Award to honor her services to archeology in Maryland.


Landscapes Lost and Meanings Found: A Case Study in Linking Past and Present in a Maryland Suburb
Julie H. Ernstein, University of Maryland: College Park

This presentation stresses the continuities and discontinuities between three layered landscapes associated with Belair Mansion and Stables in Bowie, Maryland. Archaeological, documentary, and oral historical sources are combined in a diachronic analysis of three superimposed landscapes: an eighteenth-century colonial plantation landscape, an early twentieth-century Delano and Aldrich colonial revival garden, and a mid-century suburban Levittown that came to occupy the estate’s former fields and pastures. Collectively, the three superimposed landscapes provide an intriguing context in which to consider generational renegotiation of landscape meanings and the contribution of historical archaeology to landscape preservation and the preservation of resources from the recent past.