The Koubek site (18CA239) in Caroline County, Maryland, contains evidence of human occupations spanning the Early Archaic through Late Woodland.   An ossuary identified at the site is associated with the Late Woodland occupation, and a commercial cannery operated at Koubek from the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries.

Archaeological Investigations

The Koubek Site (18CA239) exhibits intact foundation remains and artifact deposits associated with the historic cannery. Phase II archaeological investigations conducted at the site by Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, Inc. (RK&K) in 2009 identified two distinct activity areas, the main processing plant and the adjacent laborers housing/ancillary structures, are evident based on the types of foundation remains present and the classes of artifacts identified in each area. Domestic refuse encountered in the laborers area reflects an assortment of consumed foodstuffs, as well as tableware and crockery employed by the occupants, and provides a unique overview of the consumer patterns of the seasonal residents, a subject poorly understood in the study of cannery sites. Furthermore, Site 18CA239 contains discrete resources associated with Early Archaic through Late Woodland period Native American occupation in the location. The presence of an undisturbed ossuary offers a unique opportunity to expand our understanding of Native American burial practices in the Chesapeake Bay region. Evidence of on-site activities including lithic resource procurement and stone tool manufacture/maintenance, and food preparation provides detailed information not only of the specific activity areas within the site, but long-term trends in site use.  This work determined that the Koubek Site possessed eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

Phase III data recovery conducted over the summer of 2010 by RK&K was focused on the part of the Koubek site located entirely within the approved Right Of Way (ROW) design along the south edge of the Maryland Route 328 roadway and east edge of the marsh.  The data recovery effort recorded 167 features, 119 of which were positively identified as of cultural origin.  Excavations revealed that the Koubek Site was affected by plowing and late twentieth century demolition activities.  A variety f eighteenth through mid-twentieth century artifacts including machine cut and wire mails, sawn wood debris, bottle glass and ceramics as well as prehistoric artifacts document a history of disturbance to overlying soils.

The Koubek Site has been occupied by transient groups throughout the Early Archaic through Late Woodland periods, with intensive cobble quarrying and lithic reduction activities taking place during the Late Archaic and Late Woodland periods.  The archaeological data suggest a possible connection between the lithic reduction activities and mortuary practices associated with the ossuary.  A discrete nineteenth century component provides possible evidence of a commercial fish house, and a number of post features, a crude cold storage feature, and late nineteenth through mid-twentieth century refuse deposits relate to the adjacent cannery.

Archeobotanical Studies

Phase II: Four soil samples were recovered for flotation and botanical analysis, one from Feature 2 (a 19th/20th century foundation), one from Feature 6 (a Native American burial), one from Feature 4 (a Native American burial), and a non-cultural control sample for Feature 4. All plant remains recovered were combined and passed through a 2mm sieve, yielding fractions of ≥2mm and ≤ 2mm. A total of 1.89 grams of carbonized material were collected, primarily from Feature 2 (1.87 g) and Feature 4 (0.02 g); no carbonized material was collected from Feature 6 or the non-cultural sample. The samples associated with Features 4 and 6 were devoid of cultural materials. The sample associated with Feature 2 contained an array of cultural artifacts including bone fragments, fish scales, ceramic sherds, nails, bottle glass, a brass straight pin fragment coal and clinker, and pieces of aluminum foil.  Carbonized plant macro-remains from the site were limited to wood charcoal, which totaled 197 fragments. Within Feature 4, wood remains totaled 5 fragments which were classifiable only as ‘deciduous’. The presence of such a small sample may be indicative of incidental inclusions into the soil stratigraphy. A concentration of wood present in Feature 2 totaled 192 fragments which were identified as maple (60%) and pine (40%). Despite the absence of comestible plant remains within Feature 2, the archeobotanical wood charcoal in association with a wide array of kitchen-related artifacts suggested that the feature was in some way directly involved with food preparation or processing. 

Phase III:  Twenty samples of archaeological soil were collected for flotation processing from 13 separate cultural features (nine prehistoric and four historic features) excavated during data recovery excavations at Koubek.  An additional six hand-collected carbon concentration were also analyzed from site features.  Flotation processing was accomplished using the Flot-Tech system, equipped with 0.325mm fine fraction and 1.0mm coarse fraction screens.  Flotation processing of 174.5 liters of fill produced 193.68 grams of carbonized plant macro-remains (an average of 1.11 grams per liter of feature fill).  The samples contained deciduous and pine woods, hickory and possibly acorn nutshells, maize, carbonized seeds, and a variety of miscellaneous plant artifacts.  In addition, uncarbonized (modern) seeds were present in some samples.  Flotation-recovered wood charcoal remains totaled 10,204 fragments weighing 175.25 grams (90 percent of the flotation-recovered carbonized macro-remains, by weight).  Hickory, maple, white oak, pine and red oak were well-represented.  Nutshell remains were present in four of the 20 flotation samples analyzed, with a total of 1,199 fragments weighing 16.71 grams.  Thick-walled hickory (1,198 fragments) and a thin-walled shell fragment (probably oak) were identified.  The nutshell remains were recovered almost exclusively from the prehistoric features.  The remains of cultivated plants were confined to a single flotation sample from Feature 1, a crudely constructed cold-storage feature associated with early twentieth century cannery operations at the Koubek site.  Ninety-one fragments of maize weighing 1.49 grams were identified.  Carbonized seed remains total six (0.06 grams).  Grape, bedstraw, an unidentifiable fleshy fruit and a possible seed fragment were recovered.  Twenty-seven miscellaneous plant artifacts were also recovered from the Phase III flotation samples.  Eight fragments of amorphous carbon, 10 pieces of fungal fruits, a small vine fragment, two peduncles and six small galls were identified.  Uncarbonized (modern) seeds were present in 85 percent of the analyzed flotation samples.  Six hand-collected carbon samples were also submitted for study.  These were collected from prehistoric features.  The samples contained a total of 68 fragments of wood charcoal (3.62 grams) – mostly hickory, and 26 fragments of nutshell weighing 1.01 grams (hickory and walnut family were identified).

Five samples of carbonized plant material were submitted for radiocarbon dating using the AMS technique:


Beta Number

C-13 Adjusted Age

Cal 2 sigma low

Cal Median Probability

Cal 2 sigma high



3940 +/- 40






340 +/- 40






240 +/- 40






290 +/- 40






770+/- 40





Emory, S.A.
2009 Phase I Archeological Survey for the Replacemnt of the MD 328 Bridge Over Tuckahoe Creek, and
Phase II Testing of 18CA239, Caroline and Talbot Counties, Maryland.
(Rummel, Klepper & Kahl,
LLP)MHT # CA 24.
McKnight, Justine W.
2009 Report on the Analysis of Flotation Samples from Phase II Investigations at the Koubeck Site, Caroline County, Maryland.  Delivered to Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, Inc., Baltimore.
2010  Report on the Phase III Archeobotany at the Koubek Site (18CA239), Caroline County, Maryland. Appendix F to Phase III Data Recovery Investigation of the Koubek Site (18CA239), Maryland 328 Bridge over Tuckahoe Creek, Caroline County, Maryland by S. Emory and D. Cheshaek. Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, LLP, Baltimore.

Emory, S. and D. Cheshaek

2011 Phase III Data Recovery Investigation of the Koubek Site (18CA239), Maryland 328 Bridge over Tuckahoe Creek, Caroline County, Maryland.  Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, LLP, Baltimore. MHT #CA28.

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