The Indian Creek V site (18PR94) in Prince George’s County, Maryland is a seasonal prehistoric resource-gathering locus dating to the Archaic period.  One section of the site contained the traces of a well-preserved, short-term habitation from the Early and Late Archaic periods, used during the annual settlement migration in Maryland and Pennsylvania.  It was frequently reoccupied to procure available plant resources from the surrounding floodplains and wetlands, resulting in one of the largest excavated Archaic period assemblages in Maryland.

Unlike most Archaic period sites in the state, the Indian Creek V site exhibits evidence of distinct activity areas, providing new information about Native American lifeways in the Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain region.  It is also the only Archaic period site in the Middle Atlantic that contains a diverse botanical assemblage.  A peat bog on the site preserved the largest collection of Archaic period plant remains yet found in the region, of great value in reconstructing past environments.

Archaeological Investigations

The Indian Creek V site was first identified by Dennis Webb, a local collector, in 1972.  The site was professionally evaluated for the first time by William Gardner and R. Michael Stewart in 1978, during a survey of a proposed water main alignment along the outer perimeter of I-495.

A Phase I investigation was undertaken by Louis Berger & Associates from November 1986 to January 1987, before the proposed construction of METRO’s Greenbelt railcar storage and maintenance facility.  A controlled surface collection was conducted across a cultivated area, followed by systematic shovel testing.  The majority of the site consisted of a wide-spread, low-density lithic scatter in the plowzone, with four primary concentrations of prehistoric materials.  Test units, measuring 3’x3’, revealed that a small section of the site, designated as Area 3, contained apparently well-preserved, undisturbed prehistoric deposits as much as two feet below the ground surface.

Phase II investigations of Area 3 of 18PR94 were conducted by Louis Berger & Associates in September 1987. Twenty test units, measuring 5’x5’, were excavated in areas of high lithic concentration, revealing activity areas and four prehistoric features that contained fire-cracked rocks.  Approximately 70% of the materials were recovered from undisturbed subsoil contexts.  Specialized tests indicated blood residues on lithic tools, and flotation studies revealed well-preserved floral remains.

Louis Berger & Associates conducted Phase III investigations of Area 3 between January and April 1989.  One hundred and twenty-four 5’x5’test units were dug in six areas of block excavations.  Plow zone was removed as a single layer, while the underlying subsoil levels were excavated in 0.3-foot levels, divided into four quadrants per test unit.  All soil was screened through ¼-inch hardware mesh, and when possible, tools in subsoil levels were piece-plotted.  Soil samples for flotation processing, soil chemistry analysis, and pollen analysis were taken from feature contexts and each subsoil level.

Lithic tools and debitage make up the entire assemblage of prehistoric artifacts recovered at the Indian Creek V site.  These 59,665 objects reflect the various activities that occurred at 18PR94, including tool manufacture and maintenance and the procurement and processing of food stuffs.  Analysis of the lithic artifacts from the Indian Creek V site concentrated on technology, function, style, and raw material preference and procurement.

Two types of residue analysis were conducted on lithic tools, primarily bifaces.  The first test assessed the presence of blood, which was positive on 49 out of 546 bifaces.  Family level testing on those 49 bifaces suggested that deer, elk, and various small game animals were being hunted at Indian Creek.  The high acidity of the soils caused prehistoric faunal materials to disintegrate, resulting in none being recovered archaeologically.

Archeobotanical Studies

Phase II and III ethnobotanical studies by Cheryl Holt included the flotation of 231 samples totaling 445 liters in volume.  This total included 17 1-liter samples from Phase II work, and 209 2-liter samples from Phase III efforts.  Also, 5 2-liter control samples from off-site were processed and analyzed.

A total of 10,037 seeds, macrospores, nutshell fragments, and wood charcoal fragments (including 3,298 uncharred specimens) were recovered.  In addition, 46 floral specimens were retrieved from off-site control samples.  Sixty-three different plant species were noted, representing a wide variety of fruit, tubers, starchy seeds, nuts, shoots, and leaves.  These plants would have been used as a dietary resource and also as medicines, smoking material, and inspect repellant.

Palynologist Grace Brush analyzed a pollen core from a nearby peat deposit which provided a vegetation record for the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene epochs, allowing a detailed environmental reconstruction for the Indian Creek V site. Seven pollen zones were defined based on pollen percentages and influxes of individual species.  Radiocarbon dates secured directly from core material allow for a detailed analysis of vegetation change.

Depth (cm)
Beta No
Measured Age
Cal 2 sigma low
Cal Median Probability
Cal 2 sigma high
1770 +/- 40 BP
47 BC
258 BC
575 BC
3860 +/- 110 BP
2621 BC
2323 BC
1979 BC
7660 +/- 160 BP
7029 BC
6528 BC
6222 BC
10800 +/- 200 BP
11177 BC
10814 BC
10206 BC
10660 +/- 90 BP 10898 BC 10756 BC 10447 BC


LeeDecker, Charles H. and Brad Koldehoff
1991 Excavation of the Indian Creek V Site (18PR94), Prince Georges County, Maryland. Report prepared for Wallace Roberts & Todd and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority by the Cultural Resource Group, Louis Berger & Associates, Inc., Washington, DC.

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