INDIAN CREEK V
The Indian Creek V Site (18PR94) in Prince George’s County, Maryland is a seasonal Native American resource gathering site dating to the Archaic Period. One section of the site contained the traces of a well-preserved, short-term habitation from the Early and Late Archaic Periods, used during the annual settlement migration in Maryland and Pennsylvania. It was frequently reoccupied to procure available plant resources from the surrounding floodplains and wetlands, resulting in one of the largest excavated Archaic Period assemblages in Maryland.
Unlike most Archaic Period sites in the state, the Indian Creek V Site exhibits evidence of distinct activity areas, providing new information about Native American lifeways in the Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain region. It is also the only Archaic site in the Middle Atlantic that contains a diverse botanical assemblage. A peat bog on the site preserved the largest collection of Archaic plant remains yet found in the region, of great value in reconstructing past environments.
The Indian Creek V Site was first identified by Dennis Webb, a local collector, in 1972. The site was professionally evaluated for the first time by William Gardner and R. Michael Stewart in 1978, during a survey of a proposed water main alignment along the outer perimeter of I-495.
A Phase I investigation was undertaken by Louis Berger & Associates from November 1986 to January 1987, before the proposed construction of METRO’s Greenbelt railcar storage and maintenance facility. A controlled surface collection was conducted across a cultivated area, followed by systematic shovel testing. The majority of the site consisted of a wide-spread, low-density lithic scatter in the plow zone, with four primary concentrations of prehistoric materials. Test units, measuring three feet by three feet, revealed that a small section of the site, designated as Area 3, contained apparently well-preserved, undisturbed prehistoric deposits as much as two feet below the ground surface.
Phase II investigations of Area 3 of 18PR94 were conducted by Louis Berger & Associates in September 1987. Twenty test units, measuring five feet by five feet, were excavated in areas of high lithic concentrations, revealing activity areas and four prehistoric features that contained fire-cracked rocks. Approximately 70% of the materials were recovered from undisturbed subsoil contexts. Specialized tests indicated blood residues on lithic tools, and flotation studies revealed well-preserved floral remains.
Louis Berger & Associates conducted Phase III investigations of Area 3 between January and April 1989. One hundred and twenty-four five foot by five foot test units were dug in six areas of block excavations. Plow zone was removed as a single layer, while the underlying subsoil levels were excavated in 0.3-foot levels, divided into four quadrants per test unit. All soil was screened through ¼-inch hardware mesh, and when possible, tools in subsoil levels were piece-plotted. Soil samples for flotation processing, soil chemistry analysis, and pollen analysis were taken from feature contexts and each subsoil level.
Lithic tools and debitage make up the entire assemblage of prehistoric artifacts recovered at the Indian Creek V site. These 59,665 objects reflect the various activities that occurred at 18PR94, including tool manufacture and maintenance and the procurement and processing of food stuffs. The combined Phase I-III archaeological investigations revealed 35 features, including 31 fire-cracked rock concentrations, two lithic workshop areas, a charcoal concentration, and a cache of six unfinished quartzite bifaces. Activity areas, representing a full range of lithic production, appear to have been focused around the fire-cracked rock features. Late Archaic artifacts were most abundant in the plow zone and first subsoil level, while Early Archaic materials were mostly found in the first and second subsoil levels.
Analysis of the lithic artifacts from the Indian Creek V Site concentrated on technology, function, style, and raw material preference and procurement. All artifacts were divided into either chipped-stone tools or groundstone tools, except for two unmodified pieces of petrified wood. Three hundred and sixty bifaces, six drills, 18 unifaces, 76 modified flakes, 228 cores, and 202 projectile points representing 16 types were recovered. The groundstone industry consisted of 41 cobble tools, four polished greenstone fragments, two steatite vessel fragments, two chunks of limonite for pigment production, and one unidentified schist tool or ornament. There were also 23,771 fire-cracked rocks. Twenty-one different material types, procured from both local and exotic sources, were recovered, but quartz, quartzite, ironstone, rhyolite, and sandy chert made up 99% of the lithic assemblage.
Two types of residue analysis were conducted on lithic tools, primarily bifaces. The first test assessed the presence of blood, which was positive on 49 out of 546 bifaces. Family level testing on those 49 bifaces suggested that deer, elk, and various small game animals were being hunted at Indian Creek. The high acidity of the soils caused prehistoric faunal materials to disintegrate, resulting in none being recovered archaeologically.
An assemblage of seeds, nutshell fragments, macrospores, and small charred wood fragments was recovered from flotation samples at the Indian Creek V Site. Over 10,000 fragments from 63 different plant species were recovered from subsoil levels and features, representing a wide variety of fruit, tubers, starchy seeds, nuts, shoots, and leaves. These plants would have been used as a dietary resource and also as medicines, smoking material, and inspect repellant. In addition, a pollen core from a nearby peat deposit provided a vegetation record for the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene epochs, allowing a detailed environmental reconstruction.
The document collection includes original records in good condition, with minimal dirt and staining, and a number of photocopies of excellent clarity. The records are housed in four letter-sized archival clamshell boxes and two oversized rolls.
Excavation records consist of unit level forms and feature forms with associated plan and profile drawings, and unit summary forms. Records are organized according to phase of excavation and then by unit number. Records exist for 25 Phase II units (test units as defined by the collection data) and 126 Phase III units.
Miscellaneous documents include photograph logs, artifact catalogs, backhoe trench data, transect data, and other records. These have been scanned as .PDF files and are not searchable. There are no field journals.
There are three bound reports and one appendix: Phase I Archaeological Survey (Thomas et al 1992); Environmental Assessment for Beltsville, Prince Georges County, MD, Archaeological Investigation Phase II (Thomas and Cosans-Zebooker 1993); and Excavation of the Indian Creek V Site: An Archaic Gathering Camp in the Maryland Costal Plain (LeeDecker and Koldehoff 1991). These are available online as word searchable .PDF files.
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 negatives, contact sheets, and slides and are housed at the MAC Lab.
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