Rosenstock Preserve: Living Along The Potomac Over 600 Years Ago

1771
The MonocacyThe Monocacy River, a tributary of the Potomac River, flows next to the site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.
The Monocacy River, a tributary of the Potomac River, flows next to the site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

The Rosenstock Preserve, located not far from the Eastern Regional Office, became a Conservancy preserve in 2011.  Our office recently submitted a National Register of Historic Places nomination for this fantastic site. The National Register was created with the passing of the Historic Preservation Act in 1966. It is a list of sites, buildings, structures, objects, and districts throughout the country deemed worthy of preservation by the United States.

Rosenstock contains the remains of a Late Woodland Village characteristic of the Montgomery Complex, a cultural complex which is composed of Late Woodland sites located in the vicinity of the Potomac River. The main occupation of the site dates to between A.D. 1335 and A.D. 1400, a range based on artifact analysis and radiocarbon dating. The site was occupied by a Late Woodland riverine-oriented horticultural and hunting based society. In what little has been excavated, Rosenstock has yielded hundreds of thousands of artifacts and faunal remains.

The Rosenstock Archaeological Research Preserve, Maryland. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.
The Rosenstock Archaeological Research Preserve, Maryland. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

Archaeological excavations at the site have uncovered an oval pattern of pits surrounding an open plaza. It is thought these pits could have been used for storage, and that circular houses would have surrounded the plaza. Two interesting keyhole-shaped features found during the excavations of the site may represent sweatlodges. A cougar skull at the bottom of a pit may suggest that the pit and its contents were involved in some sort of ritual activity.

The cougar skull found at the bottom of a pit feature. Photo courtesy of the Maryland Historical Trust
The cougar skull found at the bottom of a pit feature. Photo courtesy of the Maryland Historical Trust.

Artifacts from the site: a partially restored Shepard Ware vessel and a bone carving of a squatting, headless human figure known as a “hocker.” Similar carvings have been found on sites in New York and Ohio.

Following excavations of the site in 1979 and 1990-1992, it is estimated that over 90% of the site remains undisturbed. Further research of the site has the potential to yield new and valuable information including the origin, cultural affiliations, and interactions of the Montgomery Complex people.

We are excited that this unique site may soon be a part of the National Register of Historic Places.  In order to add a property to the National Register it is necessary to apply to be nominated based on historical significance relating to one (or more) of four criteria: event, person, design/construction, and/or information potential. Many archaeological sites are listed based on the final criterion because of the potential for excavations of the site to yield important information related to prehistory or history. You can learn more about the National Register process which is administered by the National Park Service, here. Being a part of the National Register adds another layer of ongoing protection and recognition for archaeological gems such as the Rosenstock preserve.

 Cross-sectioned semi-subterranean keyhole structure, thought to be a sweatlodge. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Trust
Cross-sectioned semi-subterranean keyhole structure, thought to be a sweatlodge. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Trust

Read More about Our most Recent Acquisitions and Updates from the Field

Learn More about What The Archaeological Conservancy Does

Become A Member Today and Support Saving America’s Archaeological Treasures!

Save

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.