As the days of summer fade away and fall approaches, it can only mean one thing for an archaeologist – lab work. It’s an inevitable part of the process and advances the discoveries of fieldwork into an analytical hypothesis about the way that humans may have lived over 10,000 years ago in Maryland.

The Waxter Memorial Internship program of Preservation Maryland is supporting the participation and research of intern, Matthew Nickelson, in the research at River Farm, as he works towards completing a degree in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Baltimore. Learn more about Matt and the intern program here:


The research I am conducting through the Waxter Memorial Internship program is focused on comparing lithic stone material, a broad description that applies to the creation of stone tools, between Pig Point and River Farm that are only a mile apart on the east bank of the Patuxent River in Anne Arundel County. These are two significant sites in that they span 10,000 years of human occupation and are rich in archaeological findings with more than 630,000 artifacts were recovered during excavation from 2009-2014.

Dig Deeper: Read Matt Nickelson’s first account of his work at Pig Point and River Farm at the Archaeological Society of Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust‘s Office of Archaeology’s summer archaeological field session at The River Farm site located on the Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary owned by Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks.


Due to the large number of artifacts excavated from Pig Point, I narrowed my focus down to concentrate on 22 excavation units dating from the Woodland period (1000 BC to 1600 AD) most commonly defined as a time of settling down and an increase in subsistence life culture. To organize my samples, I further separated them by time (early, middle, and late Woodland period) and by the location within the dig area (upper, midden, and lower block).

To understand the complex assemblage of artifacts, I used a PivotTable in Microsoft Excel to make observations and create bar charts about specific variables of the lithic materials, including time and location, as well as:

  • Tool type: knife, chopper, scrapper, drill
  • Points: finished product of stone tool production
  • Debitage: waste produced from stone production

My results are not finalized, but it can be surmised that the lower block of the Pig Point area is where tools were being produced and then brought up to the upper block which is closer to the north block that contains the ceremonial area.

After additional research, Matt’s work will be presented to the Commission, detailed on the Preservation Maryland blog, and will translate to earned credits to complete his degree in Environmental Sustainability at the University of Baltimore. Learn more about Matt and the Waxter Internship program at: