First Ever Geophysical Archaeological Survey at Rackliffe House | WRDE

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First Ever Geophysical Archaeological Survey at Rackliffe House

Posted: Oct 25, 2018 7:58 PM
By Mallory Metzner


(BERLIN, Mar.) - History is being uncovered at the oldest house on Maryland's lower eastern shore. The Rackliffe House has stood strong since its construction in the 1740s, surviving the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War to now serve as a coastal museum overlooking Assateague Island and interepting 18th century life along Maryland's lower eastern shore. It's even a site for weddings and other events. The Assateague Indians once used the area around it as their main encampment site and colonists even settled nearby.

Surveys have uncovered historical artifacts before but now, the first geophysical archaeological survey aims to find more and make this area more open to the public. 10 years ago archaeologists dug into the ground, seeking evidence of what life was like here during the 18th and 19th centuries.

"We found a lot of broken ceramics, like tablewares, bottles, a few keys, coins, locks, just evidence of everyday life," says archaeologist Aaron Levinthal.

Now a geophysical survey aims to uncover what might have been missed in those archaeological surveys.

Rackliffe House Trust Executive Director, Tina Busko explains, "We received a grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and the Lower Eastern Shore Heritage Council, along with donations from our sponsors, which we truly appreciate. This will give us a broader understanding of what's going on here at Rackliffe House before we decide to pursue other projects."

Since the Rackcliffe House was built in 1740's, it has been through two archaeological surveys but this is the first geophysical survey ever meaning that the ground will not be broken this time. This 5-day survey will instead use ground penetraing radar and magnetometry to map patterns in the magnetism of the soil and determine where the ground was once disturbed.

Rackliffe House Trust President Edward Phillips says, "It's going to hopefully reveal many things that you can't see with our human eyes. We might find foundations of out buildings such as a milk house or a smoke house or a kitchen, barns, corn cribs, you might find graves."

The results of this survey will help with landscape management and determine areas of focus for future studies, staying within the 3-acres of land the Rackliffe House Trust operates.

The Rackliffe House is open to the public Tuesday's, Thursday's, and Sunday's from 1 to 4pm May through October. The last day it will be open this season is Tuesday, October 30th.



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