The Mt. Aetna site (18WA487) contains multiple occupations, including Early and Late Archaic and Early, Middle, and Late Woodland period camps, and19th- to 20th-century domestic occupations at a rural crossroads.

Archaeological Investigations

Phases I, II, and III excavations at the Mt. Aetna site were conducted by R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc., on behalf of the Maryland Department of Transportation/State Highway Administration during 2000 and 2001. The investigations were conducted in anticipation of the proposed construction of a traffic circle at the intersection of Route 66 and Mt. Aetna Roads.

The prehistoric component of this site was identified in the northwest, southwest, and southeast quadrants of the highway intersection. The site boundary likely includes the untested northeast quadrant of the intersection, as well as areas of the southwest and southeast quadrants outside the project area.

The site is primarily associated with the Late Archaic and Transitional periods, although several diagnostic projectile points/knives indicate Early Archaic, Early Woodland, Middle Woodland, and Late Woodland period occupations. The site functioned primarily as a rhyolite processing area, where bifaces were worked into completed or almost completed forms. Other materials, such as several varieties of chert, quartz, and jasper, were also reduced at the site. Features were generally limited to lithic reduction concentrations within the intact soils strata. Several possible pit and post mold features were identified. Portions of the site in the northwest and southwest quadrants of the intersection, outside the disturbed highway modification area, likely contain prehistoric components. These portions of the site likely remain eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The historic component of the site was located in the southwestern quadrant of the intersection. The site was a domestic occupation from the 19th to the 20th centuries. A small blacksmithing shop was operated on the site during the latter part of the 19th century. The former house was recorded as MIHP # WA-II-153. It dated from c. 1872 and was demolished c. 1990. Despite the presence of a foundation and cellar remnants, the process of razing the structures severely impacted the site's integrity. No completely undisturbed historic strata were identified. A total of 60 shovel tests and five excavation units were placed here during the Phase I/II investigations. All contained plowed and/or severely disturbed soils and mixed strata. Because of the lack of integrity, the historic component of the site was not considered to contribute to the site's eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places.

Archeobotanical Studies

Seven flotation samples (14 liters produced 3.69 grams of carbonized plant macro-remains) and four hand-collected samples were analyzed by Justine McKnight. The archeobotanical assemblage from the Mt. Aetna site reveals that a variety of wild plant resources made significant contributions to site economy as food and fuel. The wood assemblage documents a reliance on local native forest elements and may reflect a preference for the high-calorie fuels woods oak, hickory, and maple. Comestible plant remains are limited within the assemblage, being confined to small quantities of hickory and black walnut shells, cherry, and pokeweed (the seeds of the poke plant are poisonous, but the young shoots can be eaten and the fruits have application as a dyestuff and in folk remedies). Wood charcoal from one each of the flotation and hand-collected samples was submitted for radiocarbon dating. Feature 35-02 and Feature 82 produced uncalibrated radiocarbon dates of 1150+/- 90 BP: AD 800 (Beta 170396), and 2410+/- 120 BP: 460 BC (Beta 170397).

Beta No
C-13 Adj Age
Cal 2 sigma low
Cal Median Probability
Cal 2 sigma high
Fea 35-02 SS#5076
1150 +/- 90 bp
AD 676
AD 874
AD 1024
Fea 82 SM#10026
2410+/- 120 bp
802 BC
504 BC
207 BC


Lowthert, William IV, April Fehr, Anne Markell and Martha Williams
2005 Phase I Archaeological Survey of the Maryland Route 66 and Mt. Aetna Road Roundabout and Phase II Evaluation and Phase III Data Recovery Investigations at Site 18WA487, Washington County, Maryland. R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc.

Thank you for visiting our web site. If you have any questions, comments,
or new information to share, please contact us at