Archaeology in Action

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Beginning this week (July 8, 2024), a team from EAC/Archaeology will be excavating in the front yard of Hammond-Harwood House. This will be archaeology in action – that is, the investigation of past human activity preserved in material remains. The goal is to document and describe past activities and to explain their meaning and significance.

The Hammond-Harwood House, dating from 1774, preserves not only its original appearance, but also late 18th- and early 19th-century archaeological deposits. The front yard of Hammond-Harwood House suffers from poor drainage and to address this problem four drywells will be installed as part of a site improvement plan. Last year a survey known as a Phase 1Identification was conducted in the front yard along Maryland Avenue to identify archaeological resources that might be affected by this work. The team discovered layers of oyster shells that represent paved surfaces dating to the 19th century, documenting the development of the streetscape in Annapolis. Because the surfaces appear to stretch across most of the front yard, avoiding these archaeological features during construction of the drywells is not possible.

As a result, archaeologists are now conducting a more intensive excavation in four defined areas where the underground drywells need to be installed. This is referred to as a Phase 3 Data Recovery, or Mitigation. In the process of excavating pits that are approximately two feet deep, we expect to uncover not only features like the shell layer but also numerous other interesting pieces of historic interest: bits of brick, coins, seeds, etc.

Archaeologists follow a specific system to record (and sometimes preserve) archaeological sites and cultural materials before they are destroyed by modern human activity or natural processes. EAC/Archaeology will thoroughly document and study the archaeological features discovered in the excavation.


Passersby on Maryland Avenue will be able to see archaeology in action over the next few weeks. We’ll post updates and photos as the work continues.

By Barbara Goyette, Executive Director

Posted on Jul 5, 2024 in , by Hammond-Harwood House



Hammond-Harwood House

The mission of the Hammond-Harwood House Association is to preserve and to interpret the architecturally significant Hammond-Harwood House Museum and its collection of fine and decorative arts, and to explore the diverse social history associated with its occupants, both free and enslaved, for the purposes of education and appreciation.
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