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  • Matthew D. McKnight

Field Session Teaser - Good Context: A Buried Living Surface at Chapel Branch West

This year the Annual Tyler Bastian Field Session in Maryland Archeology will be held at the Chapel Branch West archeological site (18CA270), located near Denton in Caroline County. This Pre-Colonial American Indian site is immediately adjacent to the 18th-century Barwick’s Ordinary site, which was the location of the 2022 Field Session. During last year’s fieldwork, a shovel test pit survey documented a presumed living surface yielding 3,000-1,000 year old artifacts intact below the plow zone. The 2023 Field Session will investigate this buried living surface to document these occupations and hopefully reveal intact cultural features including house patterns, hearths, and storage pits.

The 2023 Field Session at the Chapel Branch West site is particularly exciting due to the buried living surface context identified during the shovel test pit survey. Many archeological sites are confined to the near surface and thus have been impacted by deep plowing during widespread agriculture in the past. Plowing of archeological sites impacts the integrity of the site by homogenizing archeological deposits, obliterating shallow cultural features, and breaking fragile artifacts (like Pre-Colonial pottery) into small pieces. The presence of an organically rich living surface buried beyond the reach of a plow at the Chapel Branch West Site hints at the potential to find cultural features and artifacts intact with good context. In short, we should be able to tell a good story.

Come join us May 19-29, 2023 for the Field Session to investigate a Pre-Colonial site with good context on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Visit the ASM’s website to register:

Figure 1. (Left) Shovel test pit revealing a buried dark brown organically rich living surface.

Figure 2. (Right) Fire cracked rocks, ceramic sherds, stone tools and stone chipping debris from the Chapel Branch West Site.

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