Bones, tools abound at Indian village in Frederick, but diggers are puzzled Archaeologists can't discern layout of Monocacy River settlement.


The remnants of a 600-year-old Indian village on the banks of the Monocacy River in Frederick have given up thousands more bones and artifacts, but the arrangement of its houses and trash pits continues to puzzle archaeologists.

"The main thing we learned this year is that the village layout is perhaps not quite as simple as we had expected, and will require a lot more work," said Tyler Bastian, Maryland's state archaeologist.

The dig concluded last week after 11 days of work by a handful of professionals and 150 volunteers participating in the annual field session sponsored by the Archaeological Society of Maryland.

It was the second ASM field session at the village, known as the Rosenstock site. The first took place a year ago.

The land is in a hard-to-reach farm field, now overgrown with trees, thorns and poison ivy. The property is scheduled for development as an industrial park.

This year's finds included thousands of fish, bird and mammal bones from the village trash pits, fragments of decorated pottery and pipes, and numerous stone projectile points and tools much like those found last year.

New finds this year, Bastian said, included several beads made from Atlantic Ocean shells, a bone fish hook, several fossil shark teeth and a conical projectile point fashioned from a deer antler.

"It had been sharpened a wee bit and it was hollowed out on the inside to receive the shaft," Bastian said. "They have been found elsewhere, but they're not common."

Archaeologists had hoped to uncover evidence of a village stockade, an outer ring of trash pits and signs of post holes indicating the shape and arrangement of houses.

The village was thought to have been circular or oval, about 300 feet in diameter and surrounded by a ring of trash pits, but the dig yielded ambiguous results.

Two large trash pits and several smaller disposal areas were found, and numerous post holes also were uncovered. "But we really couldn't make a lot of sense out of them," Bastian said. "We will be going back this week for a day or two, but I'm pessimistic we'll be able to get any house patterns."

No decision has been made about whether to return to the site next year.

The thousands of items collected from the site will be numbered, cataloged and studied at a state laboratory at the new Department of Housing and Community Development headquarters in Crownsville.

Bastian said volunteers wishing to assist in the work may call Varna Boyd at (301) 514-7661 for more information.

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