Painters Mill (18BA106)

The Painters Camp Site (18BA106) is a prehistoric base camp site with occupations from the Early Archaic period through the Late Woodland period. The major period of occupation at the site appears to have been the Potomac Creek Phase of the Late Woodland period. The site is situated on a wide, level terrace of the Gwynns Falls floodplain, near Reisterstown in Baltimore County.

Site 18BA106 was located in 1973 during a survey of the Northwest Transportation Corridor. Between 1973 and 1975, three phases of investigation at the Painters Camp Site were undertaken by the Maryland Geological Survey (MGS), including controlled surface collection and test excavations. One feature and 8 possible post molds were identified, but the distribution of post molds did not suggest the location of a structure. The feature was charcoal-filled, with no artifacts in the fill. Based on the analysis of artifacts, it was suggested that the earliest material recovered from the site could date to the Early Archaic period. The Middle Archaic period was represented at the site by Savannah River points. A possible Otter Creek-like point was also collected. Combined with the rest of the assemblage, consisting mainly of debitage, it was suggested that the site served as a resource acquisition camp. In the south central portion of the site, a cluster of rhyolite debitage indicated that biface production and maintenance, cutting and possibly scraping activities were conducted. The Late Archaic period at the site was represented by the presence of a Brewerton ear-notched point, a Piscataway point, and 5 Dry Brook/Orient Fishtail points.

Materials were recovered that also indicated site use during the Woodland period. The Early Woodland period was represented by a Dry Brook/Orient Fishtail point Characteristic pottery types, such as Accokeek ware, were also recovered from the site. The only artifacts recovered that represented the Middle Woodland period were 2 side-notched points dating to the Mockley phase (possibly referring to a Selby Bay point). A single corner notched projectile point thought to be diagnostic of the period was the only lithic example of a Late Woodland period object noted in the site assemblage. A triangular projectile point, also thought to be diagnostic of the period, was collected from the site. Several ceramic sherds dated to the Late Woodland period were also recovered from the site between 1973 and 1975. Forty ceramic sherds assigned to the Townsend complex were recovered from the site. These were estimated to represent a maximum of 24 vessels.

A distributional assessment of the artifacts collected during the Phase I surveys suggested there were 10 activity areas at the site on the basis of spatial clustering and cultural type association. One of the activity areas was hypothesized to be a butchering station, 5 of the activity areas were hypothesized to be residential zones, and the remaining 4 activity areas were unidentified as to activity.

In September 1981, staff from MGS conducted Phase II archaeological investigations at the site prior to construction of the Northwest Expressway. The Phase II fieldwork consisted of cutting 20 backhoe trenches across the site.

The Painters Camp Site (18BA106) represents over 8,000 years of periodic occupation of the same space. It is a prehistoric base camp site with occupations from the Early Archaic to the late Woodland periods. As a result of pedological analysis and the identification of only 2 possible features following stripping of nearly 840 m² in the center of the site, the potential for buried deposits was determined to be negligible. Therefore, the research potential of the site was determined to be less than anticipated.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)


  • Clark, Wayne E.
  • 1976. The Application of Regional Research Designs to Contract Archeology: The Northwest Transportation Corridor Archeological Survey Project. MA thesis, American University, Washington, DC.
  • Kavanagh, Maureen, and Robert Jacobson
  • 1983. Phase II Archeological Investigations at the Painters Mill Site (18 BA 106) and the Gwynns Falls Site (18 BA 112), Northwest Expressway, Baltimore County, Maryland MGS File Report No. 181.
  • Maymon, Jeffrey H., Katherine Grandine, and Colby A. Child
  • 1999. Phase I and II Archeological Investigations for the UMBC Research Park and Playfield, Baltimore County, Maryland. 2 vols. R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates, Inc.. Frederick, MD.

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