The Site 1 at Indian Creek (18PR545) is located between Beltsville and Greenbelt in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  Situated on a terrace overlooking Indian Creek, the site represents a series of Late Archaic, Early Woodland, and Middle Woodland period campsites.

Archaeological Investigations

18PR545 was identified during a shovel testing survey along the east side of Maryland Route 201.  That part of the site was found to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  A Phase II investigation was undertaken in 1997 by R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc. on behalf of GNM & Associates, Inc., for the Edmonston Road widening project at the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.  Eighty-two shovel test pits and twelve one-meter test units were excavated during Phase II investigations. 

Phase III data recovery followed in 1998.  Site mitigation included ten 1x1 meter units and the equivalent of five 4x4 meter blocks excavated in 10 cm arbitrary levels within natural stratigraphy.  Specialized analyses include four radiocarbon dates, blood residue analysis, and faunal and archeobotanical studies.  Seven cultural components were identified, including: 1) a small late Early Archaic or early Middle Archaic period component isolated in the northernmost portion of the site; 2) a possible late Middle or early Late Archaic period occupation in the northern and central portions of the site; 3) a Late Archaic period occupation in the central portion of the site; 4) a Late Archaic/Transitional period component in the northern and central portions of the site; 5) an Early Woodland period occupation documented across the entire site; 6) a Middle Woodland period occupation restricted to the northern and southeastern portions of the site; and 7) a Late Woodland period component also restricted to the northern half of the site. 

Specific research questions were developed as a part of the mitigation plan for the site.  These questions related to local and regional lithic procurement strategies, lithic technology, subsistence and environment, and settlement patterns.  Significant site contributions include radiocarbon dates for Accokeek sherds (2,880 +/- 110 BP) and a Vernon point/knife (3,140 +/- 50 BP), data on Early Woodland period lithic reduction activity and spatial organization of behavior, definition of a new Early Woodland period ceramic type with a mica and quartz temper, and information regarding subsistence during several occupational periods using protein residue analysis and carbonized food and fuel remains. 

Additional survey work at 18PR545 in 2002 by Louis Berger & Associates, Inc. redefined the southwestern boundary of the site.  Fourteen shovel test pits at 20 meter intervals along the west side of Maryland Route 201 were excavated; eight of these yielded positive results.  A variety of prehistoric artifacts were recovered, including a Mockley ceramic sherd.

Archeobotanical Studies

Phase III data recovery included analysis of eight flotation and seven hand-collected archeobotanical samples.  Flotation samples were processed at the Frederick office of R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc.  All floral materials were analyzed by Justine McKnight.

Sixteen liters of cultural fill from four features produced 4.71 grams of carbonized plant remains (an average of 0.296 rams per liter).  Wood charcoal (dominated by tulip poplar and hickory), carbonized seeds (including sumpweed [two seeds] and knotweed [three seeds]), amorphous carbon (one fragment), and fungi (one fragment) were recovered, along with non-carbonized seed specimens. 

Hand-collected carbon concentrations were composed of wood charcoal.  A total of 6.77 grams of material from seven samples was studied.  Red oak, tulip poplar, white oak, and ash woods were identified.

Plant remains recovered from 18PR545 provide a glimpse of economically important fuel and possible food plants from securely-dated Terminal Archaic, incipient Early Woodland, and Middle Woodland period hearth features.  In addition, the identification of non-carbonized seeds of probable modern origin from these prehistoric features accords with the regional pattern of feature contamination by minute organic materials from coastal plain sediments.

The wood assemblage from 18PR545 offers some useful data for examining site environment during the periods of occupation.  The tulip poplar, hickory, and oak species which dominate the flotation assemblage are consistent with the late Holocene forest cover of the middle Atlantic (Brush 1986; Reveal et al. 1987).  Additionally, these species provide economically useful woods for tool, home, and canoe construction, and as high-calorie fuel woods (especially oak and hickory).

Of particular interest within the wood assemblage is the distribution of wood species across three distinct temporal contexts.  A stark contrast in wood species is observed: oak and hickory species clearly dominate within the Terminal Archaic and Middle Woodland features, while tulip poplar is most prevalent within the Early Woodland assemblage.  Variation in dominant wood types is documented from each temporal context.  Because of the relatively small sample being scrutinized from 18PR545, interpretations based on this wood data must be made with caution.  Nevertheless, the data are compelling, and may constitute a reflection of changes in either natural or cultural conditions at the site over time.  The dramatic change in wood species within the Early Woodland period features at 18PR545 may be a reflection of broader regional environmental change coinciding with the end of the Archaic period, or a result of changes in the local availability of more desirable (oak and hickory) woods, or may be attributable simply to the nature of activities associated with the sampled features (i.e.  Feature 41-01 may have been associated with the construction burning of a dugout canoe, which were commonly made of tulip poplar).

The seed assemblage from 18PR545 is interesting, as the carbonized seed species identified include useful food plants.  Archeobotanical data from throughout the Eastern Woodlands have documented the economic importance of both wild and cultivated knotweed and sumpweed during the Woodland period.   

Nut remains were conspicuously absent from the 18PR545 botanical assemblage.  The widespread use of native nutmeats (hickory, walnut, and acorn species) by prehistoric Native Americans has been well documented archaeologically (and corroborated ethnographically).  The lack of nut data from this site may be attributable to the small sample size, or to the nature of the features sampled for prehistoric plant remains.

Immunological testing using cross-over eleoctrophoresis (CIEP) analysis was conducted on a variety of stone tools recovered during data recovery at 18R545.  Analysis was conduced by Paleo Research Labs in Golden, Colorado. A single projectile point (FS#210) dating to the Late Woodland period yielded positive results for plant antisera identified to the caper family.  It is speculated that the identified taxon may represent a plant that was transported prehistorically from its native western United States habitat to central Maryland where it found conditions favorable and where it persists today in isolated populations.

Four radiocarbon dates are available for hearth features yielding identifiable plant remains:

Measured Age
Cal 2 sigma low
Cal Median Probability
Cal 2 sigma high
Feature 41-01
3280 +/- 70 bp
1736 BC
1564 BC
1423 BC
Feature 46-01
1670 +/- 40 bp
AD 254
AD 374
AD 530
Feature 81-01
2880 +/- 110 bp
1376 BC
1083 BC
829 BC
Feature 81-02
3140 +/- 50 bp
1514 BC
1417 BC
1297 BC


Bedell, John and Charles LeeDecker
2002 Phase I Archeological Survey for the US Route 1/ Maryland Route 201 Planning Study, Sunnyside Avenue to Maryland 198, Prince Georges County, Maryland. The Louis Berger Group, Inc.
Hornum, Michael B., et al.
1997 Phase I Archeological Survey of the Proposed Edmonston Road Improvements for the Beltsville Office Facility, US Department of Agriculture Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Prince Georges County, Maryland. R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc.
Hornum, Michael B. and John Clarke
1997 Phase II Archeological Evaluation of Sites 18PR545, 18PR546 for the Proposed Edmonston Road Improvements , US Department of Agriculture Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Prince Georges County, Maryland. R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc.
Hornum, Michael, John Clarke, Christian Davenport, and Thomas Majarov
2000 Phase III Archaeological Data Recovery at Site 18PR545, USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Prince George’s County, Maryland. R. Christoper Goodwin & Associates, Inc.
McKnight, Justine
2000 Report on Archeobotanical Analysis. Appendix V to Phase III Archaeological Data Recovery at Site 18PR545, USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Prince George’s County, Maryland. R. Christoper Goodwin & Associates, Inc.

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