UMBC Site (18BA71)

The UMBC Site (18BA71) is a multicomponent (Archaic and Woodland) short-term resource procurement site and base camp near the Arbutus area of Baltimore County. The presence of a large number of artifacts including projectile points, bifaces, flake tools, heavy groundstone tools, and ceramics indicated that the site functioned as a base camp during some of its multiple occupations. The quantity of diagnostic artifacts indicates that the principal occupations at the site date from the Early Archaic, Late Archaic, and Late Woodland periods. A domestic structure stood on the site until the late 1960s, when it was destroyed by fire.

The site was first identified in 1970 when prehistoric artifacts and quartz and quartzite debitage were recovered eroding from a borrow pit near the base of the knoll. Excavations were conducted between 1970 and 1972 by the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) as well as field school students, in anticipation of road construction. The 1970s investigations concentrated adjacent to the borrow pit, the primary concentration of artifacts on the site. These investigations indicated that Early and Middle Archaic occupations were located in the lowest sand levels, while most Late Archaic types were recovered from the upper levels. The ceramics and point types associated with Woodland period occupations were located within the plowzone. A hearth feature and a “charcoal pit” were identified during these excavations. Calcined bone and carbonized nut shells (oak and hickory) were also identified at the site.

In 1995, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) began to undertake the construction of the UMBC Research Park and Playfields at the site. Phase I work was conducted, entailing the excavation of 31 shovel test pits (STPs), along with pedestrian survey. Thirteen STPs contained only prehistoric materials and 10 produced only historic cultural materials. A total of 165 prehistoric and 68 historic artifacts reflecting the 20th-century domestic occupation were recovered during Phase I work.

Phase II evaluation included the placement of test units in areas where shovel tests produced concentrations of deeply-buried, highly concentrated, or functionally discrete prehistoric artifacts. A total of 12.75 m2 of the UMBC site were excavated during Phase II testing. A total of 2,714 artifacts were recovered during the Phase II evaluation of the site: 2,109 (77.71%) of these were prehistoric and 605 (22.29%) were historic. Nearly all of the artifacts from the floodplain were recovered in primary context--deeply buried prehistoric components including hearth features and partially intact buried A horizons.

Site 18BA71 represents a series of occupations dating from the Early Archaic to the Late Woodland period. The floodplain portion of the site contained a stratified sequence of occupations including (1) an Early Archaic occupation at approximately 70 cmbs, (2) a series of early Middle Archaic and Late Archaic occupations associated with a largely undifferentiated B/C horizon, (3) one or more Early Woodland occupation(s) located within the upper B/C horizon and lower Ap horizon, and (4) a Late Woodland Period occupation located within the Ap horizon. The terrace portion of this site has endured considerable disturbance associated with a historic dwelling situated in the center of the terrace. Prehistoric occupation of the site extended onto the terrace at least during the Late Archaic and Late Woodland periods.

The historic component at 18BA71 occupied the terrace portions of the site, where a domestic structure stood until the late 1960s. Vegetative signatures and a road trace clearly identified the house site, although the building was burned and its foundation filled with materials from a borrow pit on the floodplain portion of the site. Destruction debris and a partially buried plowzone were identified during Phase II testing in the central and western portions of the terrace.

The 1995 research project confirmed the research in the 1970s, that 18BA71 consists of a multi-component prehistoric site with deep, stratified deposits representing occupations from the Early Archaic through the Late Woodland periods. Testing recovered a variety of artifacts including lithic tools, debitage, fire cracked rock, and prehistoric ceramics. The site likely functioned as a short-term resource procurement and base camp.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)


  • Vitelli, Karen D., Ronald J. Breen, Norma Baumgartner, Wayne Clark, Jean Hansen, Wm. Dana Miller, Barbara O'Donnell, Austin P. Platt, Pamela C. Platt, and William P. Zaruba
  • 1975. Report of the Excavation at U.M.B.C. Site 18BA71. Miscellaneous Papers No. 10, Archeological Society of Maryland.

About the MAC Lab

The MAC Lab
Visiting the MAC Lab

Contact Us