AAHA finds 13 New Archaeological Sites During Survey of Battle Creek, Calvert County

In 2015, AAHA conducted a shoreline survey of Battle Creek on behalf of the Commissioners of Calvert County. 

The visual inspection was conducted from a canoe, with the archaeologists closely following the shoreline and occasionally putting ashore below the high tide line so as not to trespass on private property.  Due to the difficulty of identifying archaeological sites in this manner, the survey largely resulted in the identification of oyster middens that are visibly eroding out of the banks of the creek.  The survey took three days and covered a distance of 26.7 miles as the archaeologists inspected five previously recorded sites and identified a further 13 new archaeological sites.

A look back at Battle Creek from its confluence with the Patuxent River

A look back at Battle Creek from its confluence with the Patuxent River

The sites newly identified and those re-identified during the visual survey were subsequently plotted on a USGS map and associated aerial photographs.  Using this information, the locations of the sites were imported into the Maryland Department of Natural Resource’s MERLIN Online web resource.  The plotted data was then reviewed against MERLIN’s data for Historical Shorelines in order to estimate how much of the site had potentially already been impacted by sea level rise and erosion.  At the time of the survey it was adjudged that 12 of the 19 resources had been partially affected by previous erosion and sea level rise in the previous 90 years, while a further six had been substantially eroded and one had been totally destroyed.  All of the resources that have already been “substantially affected” by erosional forces are located in the southernmost portion of the creek.

An archaeological pit feature eroding out of the banks of the creek close to the site of Calverton - the County's first seat of government.

An archaeological pit feature eroding out of the banks of the creek close to the site of Calverton - the County's first seat of government.

 The sites were then compared against MERLIN’s data for Sea Level Rise Vulnerability, which is split into three sub-categories: 0 to 2 Foot Inundation, 2 to 5 Foot Inundation and 5 to 10 Foot Inundation.  As with the Historical Shorelines each site was compared with each sub-category of Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and a determination was made whether the site would be partially, substantially or totally affected by each level of inundation.

Artifacts recovered from beneath the water's surface along the southern shore of Battle Creek

Artifacts recovered from beneath the water's surface along the southern shore of Battle Creek

Six sites were identified as being at immediate risk of imminent damage from sea level rise and intensified storm events, including the site of Calvert County’s first County Seat – Calverton.  The Calverton Site has previously been described as one of Calvert County’s most important archaeological sites and much has already been lost to erosion. 

In Spring 2015, AAHA presented their results at a meeting hosted by the Calvert County Nature Society where AAHA's Vice President, Jason Tyler, took questions from the County's residents.