The Barton site (18AG3) is one of several in the Barton complex of sites located on an alluvial terrace along the North Branch of the Potomac River floodplain in Allegany County. The complex measures over 30 acres in size and is owned by the Archaeological Conservancy. It is a large, multi-component site with Late Woodland and Contact (Susquehannock) period cultural occupations as well as Archaic period occupations dating to the beginning of the Holocene.

Archaeological Investigations

Archaeological investigations at the Barton site began with Henry Wright's excavation of a single trench along the river bank around 1960. Dr. Robert Wall of Towson University began a long-term research project at Barton in 1993 that continues to the present. Excavation of test units across the Barton site provides evidence of Mason Island, Luray and Shultz Phase occupations at the site (Wall 2001). The Mason Island occupation (AD 900-1350) at Barton was represented by a series of successive camps and small hamlets evidencing intensive use of the area during the early to middle Late Woodland Period. The later Luray (AD1450) and Schultz (AD1600) occupations at the Barton site were palisaded villages. Geophysical work on the site shows the possibility of two additional palisades on the site, perhaps associated with the Mason Island occupation.

Artifacts from the site include a sequence of ceramics from early Late Woodland Page limestone-tempered ceramics, perhaps the most abundant ceramic type across the site, to Keyser cordmarked shell-tempered pottery, to Schultz incised shell-tempered Susquehannock pottery. Glass trade beads from two periods are well-represented and are affiliated with the Susquehannock occupation of ca. 1600-1610 and the late 1600s Shawnee occupation. Lithic artifacts include triangular points, scrapers, drills, cores, and a large number of staged bifaces made from the abundant local Shriver chert. Bone preservation is excellent across the site and is found in Mason Island, Keyser and Susquehannock features (see Schmidt 2002).

Archeobotanical Studies

Kathleen Furgerson made the study of plant macro-remains from the Barton site the subject of her master’s thesis (2007). The data set for Furgerson's study included 70 archeobotanical samples from 59 cultural features relating to Late Woodland and Contact period occupations at the site. The study focused on providing information regarding subsistence activities, and the analysis was limited to food plant remains. Flotation and water screen-recovered archeobotanical remains were analyzed, original soil volumes were not recorded.

Furgerson inventoried a total of 15,608 macro-botanical remains. The tropical cultigens maize, beans and squash were well represented. Native mast species within the assemblage included thick-walled hickory, walnut/butternut and acorn. A reliance on wild fleshy fruits is evidenced by the recovery of grape, blackberry, elder, blueberry, ground cherry, maypop, sumac and strawberry seeds. Sunflower occurs throughout all cultural occupations at the Barton site, but is abundant within the Shultz Phase samples analyzed. Knotweed (Polygonum sp.) and goosefoot (Chenopodium sp.) are identified within the site assemblage, but the status of the Barton specimens as wild or cultivated types remains undetermined.

As part of a cultigen dating project supported by the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory in 2009/2010, maize cob fragments (cupule) from an early Late Woodland (AD1250 -1300) pit Feature 47 at the Barton site were selected for direct radiocarbon dating using the AMS technique. The sample produced an uncalibrated radiocarbon date of 60 +/40 BP/AD 1890. This result suggests contamination of the feature by Contact period or historic period occupations. The location of the feature close to the riverbank could suggest contamination by even recent historic period use of the area by campers and fishermen. Data from Furgerson's work and the details of the direct date of maize are included in the Maryland Archeobotanical Database.


Furgerson, Kathleen A.
2007 Archaeobotany of the Late Woodland and Contact Periods at the Barton Site (18AG3), Allegany County, Maryland. Master’s thesis.
Schmidt, Eric M.
2002 Faunal Remains from Cultural Features at the Barton Site, 18AG3: Historical Conjuncture and the Examination of Faunal Remains. Master’s thesis, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Wall, Robert D.
2001 Late Woodland Ceramics and Native Populations of the Upper Potomac Valley. Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 17:15-36.
2004 The Chesapeake Hinterlands: Contact Period Archaeology in the Upper Potomac Valley. In Indian and European Contact in Context: The Mid-Atlantic Region, University Press of Florida/Society for Historical Archaeology, pp. 74-97.
Wall, Robert D. and Dennis Curry
1992  Test Excavations at the Barton Complex Sites, Allegany County, Maryland. Maryland Archeology 28(1):1-12.
Wall, Robert D. and Heather Lapham
2003 Material Culture of the Contact Period in the Upper Potomac Valley: Chronological and Cultural Implications. Archaeology of Eastern North America 31:151-177.

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