Were There Indians in Calvert County? This is a common question. In the early 1600s A.D., there were several small, closely-related Indian chiefdoms in the area. The most influential group called itself "Patuxent," a name we now use for all these Indians. In the 1300s and 1400s A.D., ancestors of these peoples lived where you are now standing. JPPM archaeologist digging here—-at the Stearns Site—-found a settlement occupied by several families on a semi-permanent basis. The site was rich in animal and plant remains. They indicated that the Patuxent ate a variety of foods, including deer, opossum, squirrel, wild turkey, various fish species, corn, beans, and nuts. The most common remains found here were oyster shells. Shellfish were obviously an important part of the local diet.
(Inscription below the image in the upper left) Above: Artist's rendering of an Indian Family in their longhouse. Top Right: Boiling food in pot.
Theodore De Bry created the engraving above based on a series of 28 drawing by John White depicting Indians during the late 1500s. The engraving were included in a publication written by Thomas Harriot, entitled A Briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia in 1590. De Bry's engravings are generally faithful to the original drawings by White; however, De Bry often Europeanizes his subject's faces and postures, and tends to soften the more awkward gestures. That aside, these engravings are an invaluable source for ethnological study of these past peoples.
"Here are infinite schools of diverse kinds of fish." William Strachey, 1612, describing the natural resources of the Patuxent River.
(Inscription beside the map in the center) Captain John Smith's map showing various Indian villages along the Patuxent River in the early 1600s.
(Inscription under the three images on the right) 1. Oyster shell filled trash pit, showing deer antler. Pit dates to the 1400s AD. 2. Varieties of corn after harvest. 3. John White's drawing of different Indian fishing techniques,
(Inscription under the image in the far right) Close-up of oyster shell hinge, showing growth rings.
Oyster shells have seasonal growth rings, similar to those on trees. Analysis of the rings tells archaeologists when the oyster was harvested. Other characteristics of the shell show the oyster's habitat, giving us information about past environments.