The Bowens Road II site (18CV151) represents a domestic occupation, probably of enslaved Africans, ranging in date from the mid-18th through the mid-19th century. Background research indicates that the site is associated with the Somervell and Wilkinson tenures between 1773 and the mid-1800s. The site also contains a low-density prehistoric artifact scatter associated with tool manufacture and maintenance dating to the Early Archaic period.

Archaeological Investigations

Site 18CV151 was originally recorded in 1981 by Laurie Steponaitis during her survey of the Patuxent River drainage. In 1992, James Gibb conducted a Phase I survey of the right-of-way held by the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative. Additional Phase I work by GAI Consultants, Inc. identified more archaeological resources first categorized as a new site, but later understood to be part of 18CV151. Phase II testing in the summer of 2005 by GAI consisted of detailed site mapping and shovel testing, and test unit, mechanical trench, and feature excavations.

Phase I and II testing combined yielded 3,373 historic artifacts and 17 prehistoric lithic artifacts. The historic artifacts were primarily kitchen-related (36%) and architectural (49%). Of the 17 historic features identified, 12 were postholes and postmolds. The rest included a possible clay extraction or daub processing pit, a relatively shallow storage pit with a flat bottom, a possible chimney base, a trench, and a large amorphous pit. Prehistoric artifacts included an untyped Early Archaic period projectile point. All prehistoric materials were recovered from plowzone contexts.

Phase III data recovery at 18CV151 was conducted by GAI in 2006, and included test units, mechanical excavation, and hand cleaning of a 48’x185’ excavation block. The 58 cultural features identified and excavated were interpreted as 51 postholes/postmolds, 4 storage pits or root cellars, 3 ditches, 4 refuse pits, 4 other pits, 1 daub concentration, and 1 structure pier. Four structures were identified, including three dwellings and one root cellar, all associated with the late 18th- to early 19th-century occupation. Evidence from artifact distributions, soil chemical concentrations, and features were used to identify activity areas. In addition to structures and fence lines, the study identified wood ash deposits, middens around dwellings, two refuse disposal areas, one possible animal pen, and three other discrete activity areas.

Phase III investigations recovered 6,484 artifacts and faunal remains (4,389 historic artifacts, 2,069 bone and shell fragments, and 26 prehistoric artifacts). Historic artifacts were primarily kitchen-related items (25%) and architectural debris (40%). The relatively low percentage of kitchen-related ceramics and glass likely indicates that the inhabitants had few material possessions, as is typical of a slave occupation. Data recovery efforts addressed a series of research questions focused on interpreting the site’s architecture, landscape, and agricultural themes which provide significant information regarding the history of enslaved Africans in the Chesapeake region.

Archeobotanical Studies

As part of the Phase II studies, flotation samples were processed and the botanical materials were submitted to Kathryn Parker for analysis. Results indicate the presence of a small number of redeposited charred nuts (black hickory, black walnut) and seeds. Parker's 2005 report describes macrobotanical materials from two pits/rectangular stains that may have functioned as storage facilities (Features 1 and 2), a brick scatter (Feature 20), several postmolds, and three non-cultural stains. Samples from several features had no recoverable or identifiable plant remains. A total of 383 wood fragments with a combined weight of 3.34 g were recovered (>2 fraction only). A highly diverse array of 12 tree taxa was represented in the 136 fragments identified, with oak (red and white) comprising over 47% of the total. Chestnut and pine together added another 31%. Other tree taxa present at lower frequencies were hickory, ash, poplar/willow, black walnut or butternut, maple, sweetgum, cherry, and Eastern red cedar. All of these types were probably available locally, but some could also have been part of finished implements or lumber manufactured elsewhere and acquired through a market economy.

Flotation samples from features and postmolds with identifiable material usually had a mix of wood taxa. Six nutshell fragments were recovered: hickory, black walnut, and amorphous, eroded thick-shelled fragments identifiable only as hickory/walnut family. Of the four carbonized seeds recovered, three were identifiable as wheat, elderberry, and a fragmentary grass specimen. Fragmentary remains of corn were recovered in samples from three features, all miniscule and only recognizable at a range of 10x to 30x magnification. Five of the six were from cupules (part of the cob); the fourth was a partial kernel. A single partially-burned peach pit was hand-collected from a trench.

Phase III archeobotany, also by Parker, included reporting on combined Phase II/Phase III results. A total of 882 wood fragments, with a total weight of 10.12 g, were recovered. A highly diverse array of at least 14 tree taxa was represented in the 294 fragments that could be identified among the 581 examined. However, hickory and oak (red and white) together were dominant, comprising over 63% of the total. Other tree taxa identified, in descending order of numerical occurrence, included pine, chestnut, maple, sweetgum, walnut or butternut, poplar/willow, cherry, ash, Eastern red cedar, and elm family.

Flotation samples from features and postmolds with identifiable material revealed a mix of wood taxa. Oak was relatively ubiquitous, occurring in all types of sample contexts. In contrast, the majority of pine and chestnut fragments were recovered from Feature 1 and 2 samples. However, if Features 1 and 2 were located near or under a domestic structure, there is a possibility that burned pine and chestnut from these proveniences represent structural debris.

Very small nutshell fragments included hickory, black walnut, and amorphous, eroded thick-shelled fragments. The presence of two different taxa, hickory and black walnut, suggests that nuts were at times deliberately collected and used. However, the paucity of nutshell makes it difficult to infer that nut masts were viewed as important or were routinely exploited.

Of the four carbonized seeds recovered, three were identifiable (wheat and a fragmentary specimen from the grass family, elderberry, and corn). Historically, elderberry is regarded as among the most desirable of seasonal wild fruits, with varied uses as the main ingredient in preserves, desserts, and wine. Hand-collected specimens consisted predominantly of wood, usually charred. The sample from Feature 65 consisted entirely of unburned pine. Other wood taxa among hand-collected specimens were white oak subgroup, poplar/willow, and walnut/butternut. In addition to wood, corn cupules and glumes were present in a sample taken from Feature 44, described as a refuse pit. A semi-charred peach pit was also recovered from Feature 44.


Frye, Lori A.
2007 Technical Report: Phase III Data Recovery Excavations at Site 18CV151, Calvert County, Maryland. GAI Consultants, Inc. MHT # CV 105.
Lothrop, Jonathan C., Benjamin Resnick, Lori A. Frye, Matthew Hyland, Barbara A. Munford, Douglas H. MacDonald, David L. Cremeens, and Lisa Dugas
2006 Technical Report: Phase I Cultural Resources Survey and Phase II National Register Evaluations, Cove Point Expansion TL-532 Pipeline, Calvert, Prince George's, and Charles Counties, Maryland. GAI Consultants, Inc. MHT # CV 102
Parker, Kathryn E.
2005 Archaeobotanical Remains from Mid-Eighteenth to Early Nineteenth Century Deposits at Site 18CV151. Technical Report: Appendices D-K. Phase I Cultural Resources Survey and Phase II National Register Evaluations, Cove Point Expansion TL-532 Pipeline, Calvert, Prince George's, and Charles Counties, Maryland. GAI Consultants, Inc. MHT # CV 102.
2007 Archeobotanical Remains from Mid-Eighteenth to Mid-Nineteenth Century Deposits at Site 18CV151. Appedix D to Technical Report: Phase III Data Recovery Excavations at Site 18CV151, Calvert County, Maryland. GAI Consultants, Inc.

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