Introduction

The Indiantown Farm Site is a multicomponent site that includes Late Archaic, Transitional Archaic, Middle to Late Woodland and Contact period occupations.  The site is located on the Chester River just north of the confluence of the Chester River and the Corsica River and contains the remains of an extensive shell midden.

Archaeological Investigations

The Indiantown Farm site was first recorded by Darrin Lowery in 1993 based on surface finds.  In 2009, Washington College conducted testing on the site including surface survey, shovel testing (n=26), and excavations of three 1x1 meter test units.  Uppermost levels of all three units revealed a mix of historic and prehistoric artifacts.  An extensive midden underlies these deposits, containing remains indication a high level of food processing activity.  Recovery of oystershells, a rich faunal assemblage (deer, beaver, and turtle were identified), charcoal and a large number of thermally altered cobbles and pebbles support the interpretation of intense food processing.  A scarcity of ceramics and formal tools suggests the site was occupied as a transient camp utilized for the purpose of food procurement and processing.

Washington College conducted its summer field school at the Indiantown Farm site in 2013, excavating additional test units within the site core and including specialized analyses.  Results are in preparation.

Archeobotanical Studies

As part of Washington College’s 2013 Archaeological field school, a program of on-site soil flotation was implemented.  Students conducted soil flotation on the banks of the Chester River using a SMAP-type (Shell Mound Archeological Project) flotation machine (Watson 1976).  Analysis of flotation-recovered macro-botanical remains focused on 11 samples.  Analysis was conducted by Justine McKnight and bolstered by student participation.

The macro-botanical assemblage analyzed from the 2013 field season at Indiantown Farm derived from 11 flotation samples totaling 32.25 liters collected from six cultural features (Feature Numbers 1, 4, 12, 15, 18 and 20) as well as from non-feature contexts.  Archeobotanical remains were present within each of the analyzed samples.

Flotation processing yielded 17.86 grams of carbonized plant remains (an average of 0.5538 grams per liter of archaeological soil).  A range of economically important plant taxa are represented in the recovered assemblage.  The wood charcoal assemblage was overwhelmingly dominated by white oak and hickory species, along with American chestnut, eastern red cedar and red oak.  Comestibles were limited to thick-walled hickory nut within Feature 15, and sumac seed within Feature 18.   Fungi, some papery tissue (probably plant) and unidentifiable amorphous carbon were also noted.  The wood, nut and seeds identified within the Indiantown Farm assemblage are native to the project area, and known to provide favored food and fuel sources to Prehistoric peoples.

Uncarbonized seeds were present within 64 percent of the analyzed flotation samples.  Nine taxa were identified, and all are ruderal taxa common to disturbed ground and agricultural fields.  It is the opinion of the analyst that these uncarbonized seeds are modern intrusions into the archaeological record.

The efficiency of flotation recovery equipment and techniques was tested as part of this  archeobotanical study at the Indiantown Farm Site.  Poppy seeds (in lots of 50) were introduced into each of the samples processed.  Poppy seeds were added prior to flotation processing, and gleaned and counted during macro-botanical analysis following standard procedure (Wagner 1982).   Recovery was poor to moderate, with rates ranging from 14 percent to 76 percent and averaging only 47 percent sitewide.   No damage of the seeds was noted, suggesting that the flotation machine and processing techniques were sufficiently gentle to preserve minute plant artifacts.

The initial suite of 11 flotation samples the Indiantown Farm Site (18QU485) provides baseline data regarding human-plant interactions during the prehistoric era in Queen Anne’s County.  To date, very few archeobotanical studies have been conducted at prehistoric sites on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and the Indiantown Farm samples make a valuable contribution to the regional dataset.  The results of the 2013 field season document the presence of fuel and plant-food preservation within site soils.  Despite the limited density and variety of plant-food remains recovered from this study set, the potential for floral remains at the site remains good. The inclusion of archeobotanical studies in any future work conducted at the site is strongly encouraged.

References

Gamez, Nicole
n.d.
In Prep Senior Thesis
McKnight, Justine W.
2013
Archeobotanical Remains from Indiantown Farm 18QU485, 2013 Field Season.  Letter Report to Washington College Department of Anthropology.
Schindler, William and John L. Seidel
2012 Evaluation of Archaeological Testing & Predictive Modeling on Maryland’s Upper Eastern Shore – 2009 Investigations.  Washington College Public Archaeology Laboratory.  MHT #KE44.
Wagner, Gail E.
1982 Testing Flotation Recovery Rates.  American Antiquity Vol. 47 No. 1: pp 127-132.
Watson, Patty Jo
1976 In Pursuit of Prehistoric Subsistence: A Comparative Account of Some Contemporary Flotation Techniques.  Mid Continental Journal of Archaeology.  Volume 1, No. 

Click on The Washington College links below to learn more about this project.


http://www.washcoll.edu/departments/archaeology/

http://www.washcoll.edu/live/news/3086-fire-and-water
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