The Hughes Site (18MO1) is a Late Woodland village site.   The site is located with what is now the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Manage Area.  It is located on the floodplain of the Potomac River and the north side of the site is flanked by a broad wetland.

Archaeological Investigations

The Hughes site was officially reported by Richard Stearns in 1940, but the site had been known to local collectors for years prior.  Amateur excavations at the site in the 1930’s reportedly resulted in the removal of many burials and the loss of archaeological information.

Formal investigations included site descriptions by Bill Tidwell in 1960, inclusion in a Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Monument survey in the early 1960’s, excavations by D.R. Woodward in 1969.  The American University archaeological field school under the direction of Richard J. Dent was conducted at the Hughes site in 1990.  An Archaeological Society of Maryland (ASM) field school session followed in 1994.  Christine Jirikowic made the site the subject of her doctoral dissertation (1995).

A total of 42 cultural features were studied.  These were predominantly classified as pits.  Some of these pits were interpreted as being former hearths or smudge pits.  Human burials were also encountered.  Two radiocarbon samples on wood charcoal from large refuse pits (Features 7 and 22) produced uncalibrated dates of 510 +/- 50 and 660 +/- 50, respectively, placing site occupation in 14th and 15th centuries.

Archeobotanical Studies

Analysis was conducted on flotation and waterscreen-recovered plant remains from 26 cultural features.  Flotation samples were processed by PRAS staff and volunteers using a modified SMAP-type machine.  A single sample of waterscreen-recovered material was also analyzed.  Original soil sample volumes are unknown.  Flotation processing of the 26 soil samples and re-processing of the single waterscreen-recovered floral sample resulted in the recovery of 466.14 grams of carbonized plant macro-remains from four seasons of archaeological investigation at the site.  The recovered archeobotanical remains were both abundant and diverse, and the condition of recovered organic remains was excellent. A wide variety of economically important plants were represented in the analyzed assemblage:  These include a predominance of wood charcoal (dominated by hickory and white oak species); maize and beans; three genera of native mast; wild fruit, grain and ruderal seed; and miscellaneous plant materials including fungi, rind, monocotelydenous stem and amorphous carbon.    In addition, non-carbonized seeds were present in 52 percent of the analyzed samples.  A portion of a maize cob fragment was hand-recovered from Feature 13 during the 2006 excavation, and it was submitted for radiocarbon dating using the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) technique.   The c-13 adjusted age of the Feature 13 maize was 490+/- 40.

Beta Analytic Sample ID #

C-13 Adjusted Age

Cal 2 sigma low

Cal Median Probability

Cal 2 sigma high


490+/-40 bp




Calibration with Calib 5.0.1 (Stuiver and Reimer 1993)


Dent, Richard J. and Christine A. Jirikowic
1990 Preliminary Report of Archaeological Investigations at the Hughes Site (18MO1).  Potomac River Archaeology Survey, Department of Anthropology, The American University , Washington D.C.
Jirikowic, Christine A.
1995 The Hughes Village Site:  A Late Woodland Community in the Potomac Piedmont .  Doctoral Dissertation.  The American University , Washington D.C.
McKnight, Justine
2010 Report on the Analysis of Flotation-recovered and Waterscreen-recovered Archeobotanical Remains from the Hughes Site (18MO1), Montgomery County, Maryland.  Report submitted to the Potomac River Archaeology Survey, American University, Washington D.C.
McKnight, Justine W.
2009 Analysis of Flotation and waterscreen-recovered Archeobotanical Remains from the Hughes Site 
(18MO1), Montgomery County, Maryland. Maryland Archaeology Volume 45, Numbers 1 & 2, pp 29-39.

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