Drive along any country road in southern Maryland and you are sure to see examples of this region’s distinctive agricultural architecture. These large vertical sided barns, constructed for the air curing of tobacco, are important reminders of Maryland’s agricultural history. A less iconic type of reminder—the humble white clay tobacco pipe—does not have the visual impact of the barns, but is present on virtually all archaeological sites dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. The Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab has tens of thousands of pipe fragments in its collections. This pipe, from the late seventeenth-century King’s Reach Site (18CV83), is one of our more complete examples; the very fragility of the unglazed, low-fired clay means that they are often found broken into numerous fragments. I have chosen this simple clay pipe to represent the role that tobacco cultivation played in Maryland’s history. Continue reading
Over the last several years, the sesquicentennial of the Civil War has been garnering a lot of attention. But the years 2012 to 2014 also mark the commemoration of another of our nation’s wars—albeit one that has not received nearly as much notice as the more famous War Between the States. Two cannonballs from the lab collections, recovered from military sites related to the War of 1812, are our window into this war in Southern Maryland.
Despite a name suggesting otherwise, the War of 1812 was a conflict between the United States and the British Empire that actually spanned 32 months between 1812 and 1815. Trade restrictions imposed by Britain due to their war with France, the forced recruitment of American sailors into Britain’s Royal Navy and British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion were some of the provocations that led President James Madison to declare war in June of 1812 (Stagg 1983). Continue reading