The Luce Creek site (18AN143) is a Middle Woodland period shell midden located at the confluence of Luce Creek and the Severn River near Annapolis in Anne Arundel County.

Archaeological Investigations

The Luce Creek site was identified during a survey of the Middle Chesapeake Bay by Henry Wright (1973), who found evidence of a Middle Woodland period, Selby Bay phase component in association with a shell midden on a point overlooking the banks of the Severn River. Wright excavated one four-foot square test unit directly within the shell midden. Recovered artifacts include pottery sherds thought to represent 12 individual vessels, rhyolite, jasper, and argillite flakes and ryolite points, remains of a worked box turtle carapace, and grinding stone implements. Ecofacts recovered included oyster, soft shell clam, mussel, and deer bone. A Middle Woodland date of A.D. 580+/1120 was obtained from a charcoal sample collected from the midden, and all artifacts were determined to represent a single component Selby Bay phase occupation.

In 1991 MAAR Associates, Inc. conducted a survey of the property for a proposed residential development which included portions of the Luce Creek site. Eight shovel test pits and visual examination of the eroding creek bank yielded prehistoric artifacts. The survey revealed that the site extended beyond the shell midden.

Phase II evaluation was recommended, and was conducted by Hettie Ballweber in 1992. Testing was confined to an undisturbed area of the site proposed for a residential dwelling. Shovel test units placed on a five-meter grid were excavated, and test units were positioned where concentrations of artifacts and potential features were identified. An additional test unit was excavated within the shell midden. Excavations revealed a relatively consistent soil profile characterized as undisturbed with a deep leaf mat and no evidence of historic plowing. Most of the recovered artifacts were associated with the upper 10 centimeter levels, with a moderate sample of artifacts recovered from the 10-20 centimeter level. No internal stratification was observed, and the recovered artifacts were interpreted as being temporally homogeneous. Ethnobotanical, faunal, and oyster shell analyses revealed that the site inhabitants were exploiting seasonally available resources.

Archeobotanical Studies

Phase II testing included archeobotanical analysis by Cheryl A. Holt. Floral specimens were recovered in Test Units 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7. The greatest sample was recovered from Test Unit 7 within the shell midden. A single blackberry seed, 73 charred hickory nutshell fragments (27.2g), 9 acorn fragments (2.6g), and 105 charred wood fragments were recovered.

Charcoal collected from Test Unit 1 was sent for radiocarbon assay, producing an uncalibrated date of 2130 +/- 70 years BP: 180 BC (Beta-57963).

Beta No
Measured Age (unadjusted)
Cal 2 sigma low
Cal Median Probability
Cal 2 sigma high
Test Unit 1 10-20 cm
2130 +/- 70 bp
370 BC
170 BC


Ballweber, Hettie L.
1993 Phase II testing of the Luce Creek Site (18AN143), Anne Arundel County, Maryland. ACS Consultants MHT# AN 244.
Ballweber, Hettie L.
1994 Return to the Luce Creek Site (18AN143). Maryland Archeology 30(1):1-16.
Holt, Cheryl A.
1993 Floral and Faunal Analysis of the Luce Creek Site (18AN143). Appendix II to Phase II testing of the Luce Creek Site (18AN143), Anne Arundel County, Maryland. ACS Consultants MHT# AN 244.

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