Lyonsfield Run III Site (18BA433)

The Lyonsfield Run III Site (18BA433) is a large, multi-component resource procurement/quarry and processing site. The site appears to have been a seasonal campsite during the later Late Archaic and Early Woodland periods while earlier and later occupations during the late Early Archaic, Middle Archaic and Late Woodland periods were more transitory. It is a specialized quartz/quartzite quarry and reduction site.

Phase I and Phase II archeological investigations were undertaken in 1993 beforedevelopment at the Villages of Lyonsfield Run subdivision. Site 18BA433 was identified through the excavation of 163 STPs. Four loci were defined by Phase I testing: 2 loci contained evidence suggestive of a campsite and quarry; the third locus consisted primarily of quarry-related debris; the fourth locus also contained primarily quarry-related debris.

A total of 2,015 prehistoric artifacts (no temporally diagnostic materials or features) were collected during the shovel testing at18BA433. A total of 224 shovel tests and fifteen 1 m² test units were excavated in the 4 activity loci. Evidence from Locus A indicated that it may have been the location of a short-term base camp during the Early and Middle Woodland periods. Lithic reduction, core preparation, the production of bifaces, and the production of rhyolite tools were activities that occurred in this area. Locus B represented at least 2 episodes of lithic reduction: one of quartz on the edge of the wetland and a second one of quartzite to the north. Evidence from this locus indicated that it was the site of the preparation of quartz and quartzite cores, large flakes, and early stage bifaces from large blocks of local raw material. Evidence from Locus C indicated that it was a location where quartzite cores were prepared and large flakes extracted for use as tools or blanks. Quartzite core preparation and the removal of flake blanks appeared to have been the dominant activity within Locus D. A total of 11,323 artifacts were recovered in the Phase II testing. The artifact distribution patterns suggested that activities other than quarrying and processing were occurring at the site.

In 1994 a Phase III data recovery program was initiated. Geomorphological studies conducted at the site were designed to identify the landforms and associated soils, to discuss landform evolution in terms of sediment supply and transport, and to determine the ages of soil parent material present on the various terraces at the site. Phase III efforts were also directed towards the recovery of archeobotanical remains for paleo-environmental and cultural reconstruction.

A total of 4,072 prehistoric artifacts were recovered from excavations in Locus A. A total of 3,024 pieces of debitage were collected. The character and spatial distribution of the component from Locus A indicated multiple reduction and resource procurement episodes. The correlation of the distribution suggested that the rhyolite and quartz reduction episodes were spatially discrete but contemporaneous within Locus A. A possible hearth area was identified that may have been associated with the late-stage lithic processing area. Broken, incomplete, and exhausted tools were discarded in situ while new specimens were manufactured. The lithic tool types recovered exhibited a range of edge-damage which suggested that a variety of floral and faunal materials were processed.

Phase III data from Locus B indicated low artifact densities and little variation in artifact type. The only diagnostic artifacts recovered were two ceramic sherds likely dated to the Early Woodland period. The data suggested that the quarrying and initial reduction of local quartz outcrops and non-local material such as rhyolite and jasper was not a major activity in this part of the site area. Prehistoric activity likely focused on resource procurement and processing, and expedient tool production and maintenance. The limited presence of rhyolite in Locus B possibly indicated a temporal distinction between this locus and Locus A.

Excavations in Locus C revealed a low artifact density and little type or class variety. The only diagnostic artifact recovered was an Early Woodland projectile point. Limited evidence for primary lithic reduction was present and the focus of lithic activity appeared to be limited to late-stage reduction of local quartz material. The concentration of rhyolite debitage encountered during the Phase I/II testing was revealed to be small and isolated.

Excavations in Locus D indicated that short-term lithic reduction activity and possibly procurement and processing activities occurred in this area, probably during the Late Woodland period. The archaeological deposits in the locus lacked vertical integrity and an Ap horizon was identified over the entire area.

Although the data suggested that there were several activity areas present across the site, only one could be clearly distinguished. The character and spatial distribution of artifacts within Block 1A was indicative of a single, or limited, resource procurement and reduction episode, including a possible campsite. In all likelihood, other such activity areas were present on the site but remained obscured by previous or subsequent occupations.

A large part of the prehistoric occupation at Site 18BA433 was concentrated on a low terrace adjacent to a stream, an area defined archaeologically as Locus A. Prehistoric occupation of an adjacent ridge (Locus D) and the slopes (Locus C) and the toeslope (Locus B) was more transitory and special purpose. Early to Middle Archaic occupation at the site was limited primarily to the western portion of Locus A. The Early Archaic was defined by 2 points recovered from within the Ab horizon in Block 3. The western portion of the floodplain at the site (Locus A) probably served as an upland hunting camp. The Middle Archaic was defined by 2 points recovered from Block 2. Evidence for early Late Archaic occupation at the site was confined to 4 points recovered from the southern portion of Locus A. Later Late Archaic occupation was identified on the basis of 12 points and steatite vessel fragments. The identification of 9 points within a small area of the eastern portion of Locus A, near the confluence of the small streams that border the site, was evidence for a transitional terminal Archaic/Early Woodland period occupation. A major activity during the Late Archaic and Early Woodland periods was the reduction of both local quartz/quartzite and non-local rhyolite. Later Early Woodland and Middle Woodland point and ceramic types where recovered primarily from Locus A, Block 2 but generally were more widespread than the early material. A Late Woodland period occupation at the site was defined on the basis of 3 triangular points, 2 of which were recovered from Locus D and 1 from Locus A. Use of the site during the Late Woodland period appeared to have been brief and largely restricted to the crest of the ridge.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)


  • Maymon, Jeffrey H., Michael Simons, Donald J. Maher, Thomas Majarov, and Kathryn McGrath
  • 1997. Phase III Archeological Data Recovery at the Lyonsfield III Site (18BA433), Baltimore County, Maryland. 2 vols. R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates, Inc.. Frederick, MD.

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