Nuggets of Maryland's buried past

March 19, 1993|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

From Indian village life in 15th century Frederick to Babe Ruth's privy at Camden Yards, Maryland's archaeological heritage will be displayed tomorrow through March 28 in a statewide celebration of the region's buried past.

It's the first ever Maryland Archeology Week, eight days of illustrated talks, exhibits, walking tours and workshops from Snow Hill to Westernport, all designed to reacquaint Marylanders with the material evidence of their past, both historic and prehistoric.

"We would like to . . . give [residents] a better appreciation for the value of archaeological resources, and how important they are to understanding our history," said Richard B. Hughes, Maryland's chief archaeologist. "Our hope as a state agency is . . . to encourage people's support for the study and preservation of those sites."

The program is a joint creation of the Archeological Society of Maryland Inc., the Council for Maryland Archeology and the Maryland Historical Trust's Office of Archeology. Those groups took the idea from similar events in Virginia and several other states.

Programs have been organized and sponsored by local and regional organizations, libraries, parks, schools and research centers.

"We would like . . . to make [people] aware that these sites exist in their own communities," Mr. Hughes said.

Without that awareness, he said, traces of the past will be damaged or destroyed by construction or relic hunters.

"The biggest danger is that sites will disappear, along with whatever information we may be able to get from them." he said.

In many cases, he said, archaeological remains are "the only record we have of a lot of groups of people, the Indians being the obvious ones. Slaves and other groups also are not documented, or poorly documented. That's why it's such a loss when we lose sites."

Some events during Maryland Archeology Week will mark the first time results and artifacts from certain archaeological excavations have been presented to the public.

"People will be able to see the artifacts and hear what was learned," Mr. Hughes said. The topics cover a time line "from the very beginning, 12,000 years ago, right up to the present."

Louise Akerson, archaeological curator for the Baltimore City Life Museums, said, "I really think that archaeology is thought of by many people in sort of a romantic vein. They might think of Egypt, Rome or Greece, but they may not realize that archaeology is carried on in our own state and all over the United States."

The week's highlight will be the 28th annual Spring Symposium on Archeology, to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow at the People's Resource Center in Crownsville.

The event will include:

* Dr. Henry Miller, chief archaeologist at Historic St. Mary's City, who will present preliminary results from last fall's Lead Coffins Project.

* Archaeologist R. Christopher Goodwin, who will discuss the results of extensive archaeological excavations at Camden Yards before the construction of Oriole Park.

* Dr. Julia A. King, an archaeologist with the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, who will have new data on the excavations at Mattaponi, in southern Maryland. Researchers believe they have found Charles Calvert's 17th century home and weapons storehouse at the site. Charles Calvert was the only Lord Baltimore to live in Maryland.

* A Native American luncheon prepared by members of the Piscataway Conoy Confederacy.

More than 50 events are listed on the official calendar. Mr. Hughes said dozens more have been scheduled since the calendar was printed. The original calendar is available from the Office of Archeology, (410) 514-7661. A full listing will be available at tomorrow's symposium.

A key event in Baltimore will be a series of illustrated talks on Baltimore archaeology, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, at the Peale Museum. Topics will include:

* More than 23,000 18th-century artifacts found in the Peters Privy at Brewery Park.

* The Cheapside Dock project, excavated in 1984 at the site of the Gallery at Harborplace.

* The 1783 Center Market site at the Shot Tower Metro station, which included several privies and cellars. One of the privies yielded huge numbers of fruit and berry seeds, now thought to have come from a baker's home next door to the market.


Here is a partial schedule of events. For a complete, statewide schedule, call the Maryland Historical Trust at (410) 514-7661.


Tomorrow: "28th Annual Spring Symposium on Archeology," Illustrated talks and luncheon on St. Mary's City's Project Lead Coffins, excavations at Camden Yards, Indian stone tools in Maryland's Blue Ridge and the search for Lord Baltimore's dwelling in Mattaponi. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., People's Resource Center, 100 Community Place. Admission: $3 for talks, $8 for Native American lunch. Call (410) 727-6417 for lunch reservation.


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