45th Annual Spring Symposium on Archeology

Before Pots: Archaic Period Lifeways in Maryland

Presented by the

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

Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM
The Agricultural History Farm Park Activity Center
Located at 18410 Muncaster Road
Derwood, Maryland 20855

9:30 - Patricia Seitz Teacher of the Year Award: Ellen Georgi

10:00 - Before Pots: Archaic Period Lifeways in Maryland: Symposium Introduction
Jim Gibb, Vice President, ASM Inc.

The Early Archaic and Middle Archaic periods cover some 5,000 years of Native American history and set the stage for expansive developments of the Late Archaic and Early Woodland periods. Today’s symposium examines some recent findings, revisits old ones, and discusses some of the new techniques brought to bear on questions old and new.

10:30 - Elizabeth Hills Middle Archaic Site
Peter C. Quintock, Gibb Archaeological Consulting

Survey of a tract near Great Mills, St. Mary’s County, revealed a small Middle Archaic site on a sandy rise in the midst of wetlands. Mr. Quantock reports the findings of limited testing of the site.

11:00 - Carved in Stone: Regional Steatite Quarry Technology
Henry Ward, PB Americas, Inc.

Maryland’s complex Piedmont geology includes Serpentine outcroppings that cut across the state’s northern tier. One of the most notable characteristics of these formations is the exposure of steatite (soapstone) deposits, the characteristics of which make it ideally suited for carving. Late Archaic steatite bowls represent the first permanent cooking vessels before the development of ceramics during the Early Woodland period. Henry Ward’s presentation: 1) overviews the geological, archeological and historical context for steatite quarry exploitation, and 2) evaluates three local quarry complexes that have yielded information on raw material extraction, bowl formation, and quarry tool technologies.

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.


11:30 - In Search of a Geochemical Fingerprint for Archaic Steatite: Geological Studies of Soapstone Quarries along the lower Patuxent River, Maryland
Dr. Rachel Burks, Department of Physics Astronomy and Geosciences, Towson University

Dr. Burks reports the results of ICP-MS analyses of several soapstone bedrock exposures along the lower Patuxent River. Distinctive trace element patterns suggest that a distinct geochemical signature or “fingerprint” may distinguish Patuxent soapstone from other sources. To test the validity of this method and continue the search for a Patuxent steatite fingerprint, Dr. Burks seeks loans of steatite artifacts.

1:00 - Steatite Carving Demonstration

Daniel Coates exhibits his experimental work in soapstone carving.

1:30 - Accokeek Point Middle Archaic Site
Kelley M. Walter, Gibb Archaeological Consulting

Survey of a tract in the midst of wetlands near Accokeek, Prince George’s County, revealed a small Middle Archaic site on a sandy rise. Ms Walter reports the findings of limited testing of the site.

1:45 - Newly Discovered Late Archaic Prehistoric Site in Pine Valley Park, Manchester, Carroll County, Maryland
Stephen S. Israel, Central Chapter, ASM

Mr. Israel examines the ecological context of a multicomponent Late Archaic site that the Central Chapter is investigating in Carroll County.

2:15 - Octoraro Farm, a Late Archaic Settlement on the Susquehanna River

Jim Gibb reports on extensive testing at the Octoraro Farm site, a Late Archaic settlement yielding Bare Island projectile points and concentrations of flaked stone and fire-cracked rock.

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.


2:45 - The Sandy Hill Adena Cache of Dorchester County, Maryland
Wm Jack Hranicky, RPA, Independent Scholar

This illustrated paper is a report of the author’s work with the Sandy Hill Cache, Dorchester County, Maryland. It is presently owned by a private collector who plans on donating it to the Maryland Historic Trust. The cache was found in 1927. It has 178 artifacts, many of which are outstanding examples of the Adena culture, and includes tube pipes, gorgets, copper, large bifaces, and a variety of miscellaneous items. Numerous artifacts are engraved. Comparative examples from Virginia are shown. It is called by Dennis Stanford (Smithsonian) and the author – a “U.S. National Treasure,” and it represents a model for the Middle Atlantic area.