Introduction

The archaeological site (18BC135) at 426-432 North Exeter Street in downtown Baltimore, Maryland contained landscape and structural features associated with the backyards of six 19th-century row houses and a ca. 1804 sugar refinery.

Archaeological Investigations

Phase I, II, and III archival and archaeological studies within the Juvenile Justice Center construction area in Baltimore were conducted between October 1996 and November 1999 by R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates, Inc. Nine historic sites were identified and investigated within the project area. Of these, four sites, including 18BC135, were assessed as National Register-eligible resources and were subjected to Phase III data recovery.

18BC135 encompasses six historic properties, including a sugar factory and domestic quarters occupied by an array of European emigrants. Occupations span the early 19th through the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

Archeobotanical Studies

Four separate cultural features were sampled for plant macro-remains. Eight samples totaling 16 liters were processed at the Frederick offices of R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates. Flotation yielded 82.33 grams of plant material, including both carbonized and non-carbonized botanical artifacts with archaeological integrity. Samples were submitted to Justine McKnight for analysis.

Three late 18th- or early 19th-century privy features (Feature 6-01, 15B, and 35) and one feature (7-01) associated with the 19th-century sugar factory were studied.

Non-carbonized seeds dominated the flotation-recovered assemblage, with 2,533 specimens weighing 73.31 grams. A variety of important food plants were represented, including raspberry or blackberry (1,346 seeds), cherry (571 seeds), grape (351 seeds), clover (108 seeds), watermelon (37 seeds), sunflower (28 seeds), plum (25 seeds), elderberry (11 seeds), squash (1 seed), and paw-paw (1 seed). Miscellaneous seeds possibly representative of landscape elements in the vicinity include nightshade (6 seeds), maple (2 fragments), and knotweed (1 seed).

Wood remains include scant pine wood charcoal (8 fragments weighing 0.06 grams), and non-carbonized pine wood fragments (96 fragments weighing 8.93 grams).

A flower petal was identified from the sugar refinery feature, and five fragments of amorphous charcoal were present in the single sample analyzed from privy Feature 35.

The archeobotanical assemblage from 18BC135 provided some useful comparative contexts from late 19th- and early 20th-century urban occupations. Features 25B and 35 were privies associated with Russian emigrant occupations at the site, while Feature 6, also a privy, was shared by two emigrant families, one Italian and one German. Little distinction was noted between the features associated with these ethnic groups. The identifiable wood sample was uniformly pine, and comestible remains were dominated by raspberry or blackberry, elderberry, grape, and cherry. Plum pits were recovered exclusively from Feature 6. The sugar factory (Feature 7) yielded the greatest concentration of and diversity of edible plant remains, both wild and cultivated. The high number of fruit seeds and pits recovered from this feature suggest that perhaps some additional commercial activity was taking place (such as the production of fruit liquor or preserves).

References

McKnight, Justine
2000 Studies of Ethnobotanical Analyses. Appendix III In Phase I, II and III Archeological Investigations at the Juvenile Justice Center, Baltimore, Maryland. R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc. for the Maryland Department of General Services, Baltimore. MHT # BC 128.
 

Williams, Martha, Nora Sheehan and Suzanne Sanders

2000 Phase I, II and III Archeological Investigations at the Juvenile Justice Center, Baltimore, Maryland. R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc. for the Maryland Department of General Services, Baltimore.   MHT # BC 128.
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