The Broad Creek site (18PR131) occupies a second-terrace landform in Fort Washington, Prince George’s County. Diagnostic artifacts and radiocarbon dates support an Early Woodland period assignment for much of the 18PR131 deposit, along with a strong late Middle Woodland period occupation. Minor Late Archaic and Late Woodland period occupations are also indicated by the archaeology.

18PR131 is closely associated with nearby sites 18PR137, 18PR138, and 18PR139, and it has been proposed that they comprise a single site. A continuous scatter of artifacts links the individual sites, and diagnostic materials suggest that the area was repeatedly occupied from the Late Archaic to the Late Woodland periods.

Archaeological Investigations

John Milner Associates (JMA) conducted Phases II and III archaeological investigations within a portion of 18PR131 discontinuously between 1987 and 1990 for the Marriott Corporation's proposed Falcon's Landing Retirement Community. The project area contained two separate but bordering parcels of land: Parcels A and B. 18PR131 straddled both parcels. Following Phase III fieldwork, the Marriott Corporation decided to terminate the development project and requested only a management summary of the work before ending the contract with JMA. The archaeological investigation was part of the due diligence performed before the Marriott project was subject to review. Thus, no agency required a final report. Subsequently, Land & Commercial, Inc. proposed to develop Parcel B only. JMA was retained to complete a report on the investigations of that portion of 18PR131 located within Parcel B.

Phase II testing identified a large area of intact archaeological deposits in the southeastern portion of Parcel B. This area, referred to as Locus 1, contained evidence of Late Archaic, Middle Woodland, and Late Woodland period occupations. Loci 1 (Parcel B) and 2 (Parcel A) were the two portions of the site considered to retain significant information. The remaining portions of Parcels B and A were determined to be severely disturbed from erosion and plowing, thus compromising the integrity and significance of the associated archaeological deposits.

Phase III excavations within Parcel B were directed to Locus 1. A geomorphological investigation determined that erosion had blanketed Locus 1 with sediments that originated mainly from the high Pleistocene bluff located to the east and secondarily from the summit of the second terrace to the west. Large areas within Locus 1 were mechanically stripped of this overburden. The field team placed excavation blocks in areas where Phase II fieldwork suggested the presence of features, high artifact densities ,or thick cultural deposits.

Approximately 157 square meters of the area within Locus 1 was excavated, which produced 20,000 artifacts. For analytical purposes, the assemblage was divided into three major stratigraphic units: upper, middle, and lower horizons. These horizons were based on descriptions of the sediments by the soil scientist. Within each horizon, the broad distribution of all artifacts was examined, followed by specific artifact classes.

The view that emerged from the spatial distributions of general artifacts, fire-cracked rocks, morphologically-identifiable tools, and temporally diagnostic points and pottery is one of relative degrees of use and occupation over about six or seven millennia, from roughly 6000 B.C. to A.D. 1300. While there may be disagreements about date ranges for some ceramic wares and point types, the co-occurrences of such artifacts as Accokeek pottery and Piscataway and Teardrop points supports an assignment of Early Woodland period for much of the deposit. Likewise, the presence of Mockley pottery, along with Potts, Fox Creek, Selby Bay, and Rossville points, indicates a strong late Middle Woodland period occupation. There was evidence of a less intensive or considerably smaller occupation during the early Middle Woodland period, judging from the small quantities of Popes Creek pottery. The earliest occupations, represented by Morrow Mountain, Brewerton, and Otter Creek projectile points, were apparently small and locally-based.

The most substantial occupations within Locus 1 produced distinct concentrations of artifact sets. The locations of tools used in activities and the by-products of those activities can be best understood in relation to hearths. In some cases, tools, debris, and fire-cracked rocks were found grouped together. These groups or debris clusters were interpreted to be the result of sweeping and cleaning activities. The most intensive occupations were during the Late/Terminal Archaic, late Early Woodland, and late Middle Woodland/Late Woodland periods.

No evidence of historic or prehistoric burials was found. JMA reviewed the evidence on the location of the Piscataway village of Tessamatuck and concluded that the village was located on the south side of Piscataway Creek by Captain John Smith, several miles south of the project area.

Archeobotanical Studies

Archeobotanical investigations were conducted by Leslie Raymer as part of data recovery efforts at 18PR131. Two-liter soil samples were collected for flotation from all features and selected general excavation levels. Macrobotanical remains were also collected through waterscreening. Thirty-seven 2-liter flotation samples (31 from Locus 1 and 6 from Locus 2) and 13 waterscreen-recovered macroplant samples (83 individual specimens) were submitted for paleoethnobotanical analysis. Because the project contract was curtailed, archeobotanical information is reported in the report appendix, but supporting complete context information relating to all of the features in Locus 2 is not available in Milner’s site report.

Flotation samples were processed using a SMAP-type flotation device, and efficiency was tested using the standard poppyseed test (Wagner 1982). Recovery rates for five tested samples were 80%, 78%, 81%, 97%, and 78%. Seventy-four liters of sediment from 37 samples were processed, yielding a total of 25.5 grams of light fractions and 48.4 grams of heavy fractions. Overall, macro-plant remains were sparse and poorly preserved. Flotation-recovered plant macro-remains included 2.4 grams of wood charcoal, 0.1 grams of bark material, one blackgum seed, one acorn hull fragment, and three unidentifiable seeds. Non-carbonized (modern) seeds were present in all of the flotation samples analyzed.

Thirteen samples of charred plant material that were collected during waterscreening were also analyzed. These samples contained 60 fragments of wood charcoal, 10 hickory nutshell fragments, 4 unidentifiable nutshell fragments, 1 blackgum seed, and 3 unidentifiable seed fragments.

Two radiocarbon dates from a rock hearth feature (Feature 64) are directly associated with recovered archeobotanical remains. One was “modern,” the other had enormous 1 and 2 sigma ranges and was interpreted as “problematic.” It had a calibrated median date probability of AD 1587.

C-13 Adj Age
Cal 2 sigma low
Cal Median Probability
Cal 2 sigma high
Feature 64
352 +/-179 bp
Feature 64


Raymer, Leslie
2003 The Analysis and Interpretation of Macroplant Remains from the Phase III Data Recovery Program for the Proposed Falcon’s Landing Retirement Community, Fort Washington, Maryland. Appendix IV to Phase II and III Archeological Investigations in a Portion of Site 18PR131, Prince George's County, Maryland. John Milner Associates, Inc., West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Siegel, Peter E., Charles D. Cheek, and Charles E. Goode
2003 Phase II and III Archeological Investigations in a Portion of Site 18PR131, Prince George's County, Maryland. John Milner Associates, Inc., West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Wagner, Gail E.
1982 Testing Flotation Recovery Rates. American Antiquity 47(1):127-132.

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