The Otter II Site (18CV272) is a single component, Middle Woodland Period Native American occupation dating between 200 AD and 900 AD, located on the eastern bank of the Patuxent River in Calvert County, Maryland. This exceptionally rich fall and winter base camp included four subterranean pits that contained a number of Mockley ceramics, quartz and rhyolite artifacts, and well-preserved faunal remains. Although the pits’ final purpose was for trash disposal, their original function could have been for cooking or storage. The Otter II Site contributes significant data on the Middle Woodland seasonal migration in southern Maryland.
Edward Otter identified the Otter II Site during Phase I investigations at the proposed Patuxent Point Subdivision in Solomons between December 1986 and February 1987. His survey strategy consisted of surface collection and subsurface testing. As the majority of the 16-acre parcel was located within an agricultural field, a controlled surface collection was conducted within seven freshly-plowed, 20-foot wide strips. In addition, shovel tests were excavated in wooded areas at 50-foot intervals, and judgmentally placed in the plowed field to verify subsurface integrity. All soil was screened through ¼-inch hardware mesh. Four shovel test pits and one two-by-two-foot test unit identified five subsurface pits dating to the Middle Woodland Period.
Thunderbird Archaeological Associates, under the direction of William Gardner, excavated the Otter II Site in July and August of 1987. Gardner conducted a controlled surface collection within 20-foot squares in the freshly plowed agricultural field. The removal of plow zone by hand revealed only four subterranean pits, instead of the five Otter had identified. Only the plow zone located over Feature 2 was screened, while the fill from the four features was screened through ¼-inch mesh. Samples from each feature were also retained for water screening and flotation . Features One, Two, and Four were completely excavated, while only a portion of Feature Three was tested.
During the 2002/2003 recataloging project, MAC Lab staff discovered discrepancies in the proveniences of certain objects. Artifacts had been placed in incorrect bags at some point, either during the initial analysis or when the collection housing was upgraded. For example, Feature One is reported to have contained no ceramics, but forty-five sherds are now associated with that provenience. Furthermore, artifacts are associated with features that Thunderbird does not describe in their report. Artifacts could not be returned to their original context, in part because the Otter II Site archives contain no field records nor the original artifact catalog. This entire collection is of questionable value, so it is best analyzed as a whole.
Excavations at the Otter II Site recovered 2,637 artifacts, mostly dating from the Middle Woodland Period. Lithic artifacts include 19 projectile points, among them four Piscataway, one Selby Bay, and one Baden, 14 quartz bifaces, one quartzite biface, and five sandstone hammerstones . Quartz was the most frequently used material, but rhyolite, chert, argillite, sandstone, and quartzite were also recovered. Five hundred and forty-three cord-marked, net-impressed, and plain Mockley sherds, 23 Early Woodland Accokeek sherds, and three Early/Middle Woodland Popes Creek sherds were also recovered. In addition, two bone awls and one bone beamer were found.
Specialists examined bone, charred nuts, and shells recovered from the subterranean pits at the Otter II Site. Deer, striped skunk, woodland vole, opossum, box turtle, white perch, untyped bird and fish, and a domesticated dog were identified. Shell remains included oyster, soft shell clam, stout razor clam, and barnacles.
The document collection consists of only photocopied records. Copy quality is generally good; however, the grid lines on the plan and profile drawings sometimes obscure the pencil lines of the originals, making them hard to read. The collection consists of one letter-sized archival clamshell box.
Excavation records include level forms for features and their associated plan and profile drawings, organized sequentially by feature number. Other records include maps, an artifact catalog, a field specimen log, and field notes.
Researchers should note that the field maps, field specimen logs, and field notes are physically housed with the Patuxent Point (18CV271) collection, as the documents include information for both sites.
The collection also includes two reports which were scanned as word searchable .PDF files: Archaeological Survey of the Phase One Construction Area of Patuxent Point, Solomons Island, Calvert County Maryland (Otter 1987), and Excavations at 18CV272 (Gardner et al. 1988). A third report, Preliminary Report of Archaeological Investigations at the Patuxent Point Subdivision Property (Thunderbird Archaeological Associates 1987), contains information pertaining to the Otter II excavations and has been included in the electronic collections as a word searchable .PDF file.
Photographs taken on-site or in post-processing are available through the online database, and are searchable using the above criteria. Researchers should note that images are not linked directly to specific documents, and photograph records do not necessarily exist for all features or units. Original images consist of slides and are housed at the MAC Lab.
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