Timbuktu #1 Site (18AN579)

The Timbuktu #1 site (18AN579) is a Late Archaic quartz cobble quarry located between Elkridge and the Arundel Mills area in northern Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The site was first identified during a Phase I survey conducted in 1985 and 1986. The field project was carried out along three proposed alternates for the expansion of MD 100. Moderate to high probability areas were subjected to surface collection in areas of exposed ground surface and excavation of shovel test pits (STPs) to located buried archaeological deposits. In the survey tract which contained 18AN579, a total of four STPs were excavated and surface collection was undertaken along a nearby dirt road, which led to the identification of the site. Artifacts recovered during the 1985/1986 Phase I operations at 18AN579 included a non-diagnostic projectile point, 3 preforms, a drill, 3 other bifaces, 4 scrapers, a utilized flake, 58 flakes, 11 chunks, 44 shatter fragments, and a hammerstone.

At 18AN579, the 1987 Phase II fieldwork entailed the excavation of 435 STPs and nine 1 X 1 m test units. The STPs clearly revealed significant clustering of quartz gravel and artifacts. The site could be pretty clearly sub-divided into nine quartz gravel clusters. The distribution of prehistoric artifacts exhibited clear evidence of distinct lithic work areas (corresponding to the aforementioned clusters). However, there is no clear domestic midden and no cultural features were identified. This would not be entirely unexpected at a site that appears to have been utilized as a lithic quarry. The relatively deep deposits of the site, suggest the possibility of examining changing use of the site over time. Artifacts recovered during the Phase II investigations at 18AN579 include a rhyolite Holmes point, an unidentified quartz stemmed point, 16 other quartz bifaces in various stages of production, 5 utilized/retouched flakes, 23 cores, 1,562 flakes, 111 pieces of shatter, 7 tested cobbles, 56 unmodified cobbles, 26 pieces of fire-cracked rock, 4 hammerstones, an anvil/nutting stone, 6 shell fragments, and part of a turtle shell.

Site 18AN579 appears to be a quartz cobble quarry, where only bipolar reduction techniques in the very initial stages of production were used. Production at the site included all stages from procurement to the making of performs. These preforms were completed, or turned into tools, elsewhere. The character of habitation at the site may be thought of as non-domestic, although flake tools indicate that some domestic functions were probably conducted back from the terrace edge.

The aforementioned cobble/artifact clusters were interpreted to represent single work areas. In the case of the 4 smaller concentrations, they were probably used by the same group or groups of people. The 5 larger clusters could be either large work areas or several reoccupations or reuses of the same spot by unrelated groups of people alternating with more or less long periods of disuse. The clusters do not have thick layers of nearly pure debitage as has been found at some quarry sites. This suggests that none of the work areas were used over long periods or by large semi-permanent groups of people specializing in making large quantities of performs. Rather, the work areas were probably used on a temporary basis by the same group or groups of people for a period of a generation or two after which it was forgotten and no longer used. The smaller clusters would probably have been used by 3 to 5 workers at a time, or a small band of hunters replenishing their stock of performs. Extrapolating this group size would mean that some of the larger clusters probably represent two, three, or slightly more work areas. Because of the hypothesized work force and itinerant nature of lithic procurement conducted at the site, the

Ultimately, the Timbuktu #1 site (18AN579) was determined to have integrity and be capable of answering relevant archaeological questions and was determined eligible for listing on the NRHP. A decision was made to preserve the site in-place.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)


  • Wheaton, Thomas, and Mary Beth Reed
  • 1989. Maryland Route 100. Phase II Archeological Investigations. Garrow and Associates, Altanta, GA.

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