The Hawks Nest site (18AG182) is a prehistoric short-term camp located on a mountain bench just below the summit of the Allegheny Front (Dans Mountain) at an elevation of 2,150 feet above sea level. The site surrounds a spring, which likely attracted native peoples to the location. The exact occupation date of this site remains unclear.

Archaeological Investigations

This site was first identified by Robert Wall and Esther Doyle Read in October 1986, during their survey of Maryland’s coal region. The site was located around a springhead, and it is probable that it escaped plowing due to its proximity to this natural feature. Twenty shovel test pits were excavated at 5m intervals, and four 2x2m and one 1x1m test units were then placed within areas of artifact concentration. A total of 463 artifacts were recovered from the site, all of them lithics. Many were retouched flakes and bifacial tool manufacturing debitage. Among the tools are a few broken projectile point fragments, perhaps damaged during the manufacturing or retouch process. A few cores and utilized flakes were also recovered. Lithic raw material is almost entirely from the Helderberg and Orisanky formations commonly outcropped along the edges of the North Branch (Potomac) floodplain. The same material is also readily available in streams running through the Potomac floodplain. The most commonly-utilized material from the site is cherty siltstone, which makes up almost 70% of the assemblage. Other types include grey chert (20%) and black chert (10%).

Three features were recorded on the site, all of which appear to be hearths. Feature 1 is a shallow, basin-shaped pit, with a 17 cm maximum depth below the base of the A horizon. Features 2 and 3 are also shallow pits containing, as in Feature 1, fire-cracked rock, flecks of charcoal, and a few flakes. Feature 2 is particularly shallow and contained fire-reddened soil beneath the fill zone.

The age of the site is undetermined due to a lack of datable artifacts. The recovered point fragments are stylistically ambiguous and too incomplete to render even an approximate age. The site was probably used as a brief transitory camp that utilized the spring area as a water source. Tool manufacturing and maintenance took place here, as indicated by the large number of small retouch flakes recovered in the vicinity of the hearths.

Archeobotanical Studies

Flotation samples were taken from each feature, and analyzed by Roger W. Moeller of Archaeological Services in May 1988. Large samples were processed and analyzed from the Hawk’s Nest site, but recovered archeobotanical remains were few. Chert debitage was the most abundant artifact type recovered from the flotation samples. Feature 3 contained bone and shell in addition to the debitage.

Archeobotanical study was confined to the analysis of seeds. Of the six flotation samples analyzed, four contained a total of 188 seeds, of which 187 were non-carbonized. The west half of Feature 1 contained grape; the east half of Feature 3 contained non-carbonized cherry; the west half of Feature 3 contained sumac, locust, and raspberry (all non-carbonized); and the Features 1 and 3 interface contained sumac, pokeweed, and raspberry (all non-carbonized). It is likely that the carbonized grape seed is the only archaeological specimen.


Moeller, Roger
1988 Flotation at Sang Run (18GA22), 18AG182, and 18AG8. Archaeological Services for the Maryland Historical Trust. MHT # GA 21
Wall, Robert D.
n.d. Western Maryland Coal Region Archeological Study: Phase IB Interim Report. 1986 Field Season. Maryland Historical Trust. MHT # GA 28
1989 A Preliminary Archaeological Data Base for the Maryland Coal Region. Maryland Historical Trust. MHT #GA 46

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