Archaeology at Port Tobacco

Archaeology at Port Tobacco began in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Local enthusiasts dug trenches across the site to locate building foundations and concentrations of artifacts. Unfortunately few notes and no completed reports survive from that work, and the few artifacts that they recovered are scattered and their proveniences--the places from which artifacts were recovered--are unknown.

Bottel SealIn 2007, the Port Tobacco Archaeology Project (PTAP) formed. PTAP is a grant- and privately funded public archaeology project that studies the history of Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland, through archival and archaeological research. PTAP's goals are to discover new information about Port Tobacco and add to local knowledge of the history of the town and its residents. That information will aid the development of this important historic site.

The Archaeological Society of Maryland (ASM) conducted two summer field sessions here with Dr. Jim Gibb and Dr. April Beisaw acting as principal investigators.  The Charles County Archaeological Society, formed in 2009, continues to provide indispensible support to the project, aiding in the uncovering of building sites and nearly 200,000 artifacts.

Projectile PointOne such artifact is a wine bottle seal with the initials “GRB”(see above).  This could be part of a personalized wine bottle made for Gustavus Richard Brown, the Dr. Brown who built Rose Hill and attended George Washington on his deathbed. Wealthy individuals ordered personalized wine bottles from manufacturers in England, as well as casks of wine, filling and cellaring the bottles at their homes.

PTAP archaeologists also found evidence of the area's prehistoric inhabitants. This yellow jasper projectile point (left), dates to the Late Archaic Period (3,000-1,000 BCE).*


*Before the Common Era, or the same as BC, Before Christ.