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What may be almost as remarkable as the discoveries Luckenbach and his team are making, archaeologists say, is the fact that he's been allowed to conduct the dig at all.Despite financial woes at both the state and county levels, the work has continued for three seasons, funded by Anne Arundel County and grants from the Maryland Historical Trust, as well as private donations.That has left a continuous record, 6 or 7 feet deep, with the oldest occupations at the bottom of the layer cake, and the most recent at the top.And carbon-14 dates from many of the 13 layers have confirmed their ages.
The dig has uncovered traces of their menu, which included wild rice, tuckahoe, hickory nuts, freshwater mussels, and lots of game and fish, Luckenbach said.
Beginning in 2009, the team led by Anne Arundel County archaeologist Al Luckenbach has found oval patterns of wigwam post holes dating from 800 to 3,000 years ago, the oldest human structures ever found in Maryland.
They have found highly decorated pottery, tools of stone and bone, personal ornaments, copper beads from the Great Lakes, exotic tools and ceramics from the Ohio and Delaware valleys, fossil shark teeth from Southern Maryland and shells from the ocean beaches."If you go to [archaeology] meetings like the Mid-Atlantic Conference, folks are just drooling over this stuff," said Dennis Curry, an archaeologist with the Maryland Historical Trust. Luckenbach's team is still finding evidence of human occupations from the Early Archaic period, 10,000 to 8,000 years ago.
Bones and scales were sent to an expert in North Carolina, who identified them as those of yellow perch and white perch."Eighty-five hundred years ago, it's supposed to be a different environment," he said.
"But when you think about what we got out of the pit, it's exactly what you'd get still today."The shores of the Patuxent below the site are still thick with wild rice and tuckahoe, and perch still swim in the shallows.
The first season of digging produced the site's youngest carbon date of AD 1540.