What’s dig­ging in Charles County?

Vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion is bring­ing hid­den trea­sures to Port To­bacco Mar­ket Day May 14

Maryland Independent - - News - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: Tif­fIndyNews

Ar­chae­ol­ogy is more than just dig­ging up rocks, says the Charles County Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mary­land. It is his­tory be­ing told through ar­ti­facts about the re­gion.

“Peo­ple call it trash, but this is trash that tells us some­thing about those who were here be­fore us,” said Carol Cowherd, vice pres­i­dent of the Charles County Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mary­land.

The so­ci­ety is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion as well as a chap­ter of the Arche­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mary­land. Cowherd and Elsie Pi­cyk, so­ci­ety trea­surer, are just a few of the found­ing mem­bers of the Charles County chap­ter.

They said the group is ex­cited to be par­tic­i­pat­ing in Port To­bacco Mar­ket Day on May 14, where the vol­un­teers will be con­duct­ing pub­lic out­reach and show­cas­ing a wide va­ri­ety of ar­ti­facts, Pi­cyk said. Vis­i­tors will be able to touch dis­played ar­ti­facts like bones from do­mes­tic an­i­mals and wildlife.

“We’ll be in front of Stagg Hall work­ing with other vol- un­teers and show­ing mul­ti­ple dis­plays of wash­ing and dig­ging var­i­ous types of ar­ti­facts, while other dis­plays will show what we do as an or­ga­ni­za­tion and how it ties it into the skills needed in ar­chae­ol­ogy such as bi­ol­ogy, chem­istry, ge­ol­ogy,” Pi­cyk said.

So­ci­ety vol­un­teers have found ar­ti­facts in Charles County reg­is­ter­ing as far back as 1634.

Some of the most his­toric items dug up in­clude a smok­ing pipe stem, printer’s type, tin glaze found in Port To­bacco dat­ing from the late 17th cen­tury and early 18th cen­tury, and Rhen­ish blue and grey stoneware from the 17th cen­tury, found in Bene­dict.

“Rhen­ish is found most com­monly in Ch­e­sa­peake sites and con­tin­ued to be im­ported into this sec­tion of this coun­try un­til the mid to late 18th cen­tury,” Pi­cyk said. “Rhen­ish is a stoneware ce­ramic, tavern type of ma­te­rial. It’s very strong and ac­tu­ally came from Ger­many. We be­lieve what we found is part of a mug or cup used in that time­frame.”

Cowherd said that in Port To­bacco, vol­un­teers work to give res­i­dents a bet­ter pic­ture of the past by search­ing through Mary­land’s his­tor­i­cal records to learn how ar­ti­facts tie to­gether.

“We’re not con­cerned about how old the ar­ti­facts are be­cause the value is in the in­for­ma­tion,” Cowherd said.

The ar­chae­ol­ogy group spon­sors a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing meet­ings, events and field vis­its. They also par­tic­i­pate in even more pub­lic out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing the month of April, oth­er­wise known as Arche­ol­ogy Month.

“The pur­pose of Ar­chae­ol­ogy Month is to let those who are un­aware about what ar­chae­ol­ogy is, learn about it. On April 16, Ar­chae­ol­ogy Day, there were var­i­ous parts of Mary­land brought to­gether to see dif­fer­ent ar­ti­fact projects. It can be an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for many,” Pi­cyk said.

Dur­ing field work days, vol­un­teers be­gin the process wth a hy­poth­e­sis and de­ter­mine whether they can prove or dis­prove their the­ory by us­ing GPS co­or­di­nates to map, find, wash and cat­a­log the ar­ti­facts. The ar­ti­facts they find will also tell them what so­cial class lived in the re­gion and what the dis­tinct group of peo­ple contributed to the county’s his­tory.

On April 12, the Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers pro­claimed the month of April as Ar­chae­ol­ogy Month in recog­ni­tion of the county’s rich his­tory and her­itage, ex­em­pli­fied by his­toric build­ings, cul­tural land­marks and nat­u­ral fea­tures.

“Ar­chae­ol­ogy is ty­ing into his­toric tourism and the res­i­dents, as well as the county com­mis­sion­ers have been very sup­port­ive of ar­chae­ol­ogy and his­tory by ty­ing it into other his­toric prop­er­ties in the county. We may not be the driv­ing force but I think our ex­is­tence is help­ing this over­all his­tory of Charles County,” Cowherd said.

STAFF PHOTOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Carol Cowherd, vice pres­i­dent of the Charles County Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mary­land Inc., and Elsie Pi­cyk, trea­surer, helped con­trib­ute to the ex­ten­sive ar­ti­fact dis­play seen in this photo and de­vel­oped by the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mary­land Inc.

Elsie Pi­cyk, Charles County Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mary­land Inc. trea­surer, washes a 17th cen­tury Rhen­ish blue and sil­ver stoneware ar­ti­fact that was orig­i­nally found in Bene­dict.

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