The Friendsville Site (18GA23) is a large Late Woodland village, dating between 1000 and 1200 AD, located on the western bank of the Youghiogheny River in Garrett County, Maryland. While this settlement appears to represent part of the developing Monongahela cultural sphere in the Upper Ohio River Valley, it also contains evidence of intermittent occupations from the Early Archaic, Late Archaic, Terminal Archaic, and Middle Woodland Periods.

Friendsville is one of the few Late Woodland villages recorded along the Youghiogheny River in Garrett County. The presence of artifacts and features associated with the Monongahela Complex demonstrates influence from Native American groups north and west of the area. Native American ceramics from this site could be further analyzed to better understand the local pottery technology, which differed from that found at other nearby contemporary settlements.

Archaeological Investigations

The Friendsville Site has been known to local collectors and residents for a number of years. Prehistoric artifacts were recovered in the lawns of a few houses and in a parking lot. Several Native American burials were found when a basement was dug for the Minnich Funeral Home in 1946.

In 1950, the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh investigated the Friendsville Site as part of a three-year survey of the entire Ohio River drainage system. William J. Mayer-Oakes directed the excavation of four five-by-five-foot units near the Minnich Funeral Home. The field notes indicate a mix of prehistoric and historic artifacts were recovered.

In 1969, Tyler Bastian, then the Maryland State Archaeologist, was alerted that the proposed construction of the National Freeway (US Route 48) and the relocation of Maryland Route 42 threatened portions of the Friendsville Site. In September of that year, the relatively undisturbed nature of the site was revealed through the excavation of seven test pits within a ten-by-ten-meter grid. In 1972, the Maryland Geological Survey conducted excavations on both the north and south portions of the site, areas that would be impacted by road construction. Staggered one-by-one-meter units were excavated to delineate site boundaries. Soil was removed in 10cm arbitrary levels until middens or features were encountered. All soil was screened through ¼-inch mesh, and flotation samples were collected from features. Based on data from the test units, the plow zone was mechanically stripped, although heavy rains prevented its complete removal. The remaining soil was hand-stripped in five-by-five-meter units to form six trenches of various sizes across the site. A one-meter wide trench measuring 27 meters in length was also dug. Additional fieldwork occurred in the summer and fall of 1973 in the area of a proposed parsonage. This work was located near the center of the site. All soil was excavated from contiguous, one-by-one-meter squares in 10cm levels. A total of 94 features, including four burials, were excavated on the Friendsville Site before the majority of the site was destroyed by highway construction.


Approximately 49,000 artifacts were recovered from the Friendsville Site, but only the 36,270 artifacts from subsurface features, and charcoal, shell, bone, and modified bone from all proveniences, were recatalogued and entered into the computer database. Lithics, Native American ceramics, and historic artifacts from the plow zone need to be recatalogued, as the original catalog contains only general descriptions. Therefore, the following section deals almost exclusively with the objects recovered from four burials and 61 additional features, mostly pits and hearths, that are associated with the Late Woodland village. Access to the funerary artifacts is restricted due to their sensitive nature, and photographs are not available.

A wide variety of tempering agents were used in the 10,056 ceramic sherds recovered from the Friendsville Site, such as sand, shell, hematite, limestone, shale, chert, and quartz. This assortment suggests that residents maintained a unique ceramic technology, one that differed from their neighbors in western Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Upper Ohio River Valley. While the majority of ceramics were either shell or limestone tempered, in his analysis of the pottery Dr. Robert Wall could not conclusively type them as Watson, Page, or Monongahela. In addition, the hematite-shale and hematite-limestone tempered sherds recovered at the site are unique because no comparable wares have been found in the surrounding area. Hematite was not readily available near the site, so potters must have traveled some distance or traded to obtain this material. Ceramic vessels from Friendsville exhibited incising, castellations, and grooved lips, suggesting they had differing functions and came from several periods of occupation. Nine ceramic tobacco pipe fragments were also recovered from 18GA23, with three exhibiting dentate decorations and one displaying an ovoid profile.

A total of 2,778 lithic artifacts were recovered from the Friendsville Site. The residents there primarily utilized local chert cobbles to manufacture lithic tools, although they occasionally used rhyolite, quartz, quartzite, sandstone, jasper, siltstone, hematite, and greenstone. Eighteen projectile points were recovered, including five Madisons. Other lithic artifacts include 2205 pieces of debitage, 462 fire-cracked rocks, four chert bifaces, one rhyolite drill, one chert drill, three chert scrapers, one chert uniface, one rhyolite graver, one chert axe, two sandstone hammerstones, and one quartzite hammerstone.

Excellent faunal preservation at the Friendsville Site resulted in the recovery of 21,265 bone and shell artifacts. Thirty-one animal species were identified, including deer, dog, rabbit, beaver, groundhog, raccoon, opossum, squirrel, chipmunk, wild turkey, dove/pigeon, passenger pigeon, frog/toad, salamander, box turtle, snake, and fish. Shell artifacts included snail, mussel, clam, and marginella fragments. In addition, some modified faunal artifacts were worn as ornamental objects or used to manufacture tools. Sixteen tubular bird bone beads and bead fragments, three drilled deer phalanges, two drilled dog canines, and one cut bear canine were used for adornment. Two marginella bead fragments and one shell pendant were also recovered. One antler was used for pressure flaking on lithic materials, while five bone awls and one beamer were probably used for hide processing.


The document collection includes original records in good condition, with the exception of some discoloration and minor staining from field use. The collection consists of four archival clamshell boxes and three oversized enclosures.

The excavation records are organized by unit coordinates, with feature records filed separately. They include unit records, unit summaries, plans, profiles, and feature forms. There are no field journals.

Other records in the collection include provenience logs, multiple catalogs, artifact analyses, site maps, miscellaneous notes, and reference materials. The report consists of multiple drafts of chapters, all of which are unbound. These chapters have all been assigned individual folders and are reproduced electronically as word searchable .PDF files.

Researchers should note that the records may not be complete. Many excavation records only document the plowzone level, and nothing else in a unit, and not all features are addressed in their respective unit(s).

Photographs taken on-site or in post-processing are available through the online database, and are searchable using the above criteria. Researchers should note that images are not linked directly to specific documents, and photo records do not necessarily exist for all features or units. Due to the sensitive nature of the site as a cemetery, photographic records of burials and associated grave goods are not available for public viewing. Original images consist of slides and are housed at the MAC Lab.


Bastian, Tyler
1971     Proposal for Archeological Investigations at the Friendsville Site (18GA23), Garrett County, Maryland. Manuscript on file at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.
Boyce-Ballweber, Hettie
1987     Cultural Manifestations at the Friendsville Site in Garrett County, Maryland. Pennsylvania Archaeologist 57(2):1-77.
Wall, Robert
 n.d.     Friendsville 18GA23 Rim Profiles. Manuscript on file at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.

Digital Resources



Archaeological Report
Artifact Documents
Excavation Documents
Feature Forms
Mapping Data
  • Notes (3 pages, 0.13 MB)
Photo Log
Project Documents
Soil Documents
Specialized Analysis

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