Welcome to "Colonial Encounters: The Lower Potomac River Valley at Contact, 1500-1720 AD," a research project and website developed by a consortium of researchers from a number of regional institutions.

The purpose of the Colonial Encounters project is to assemble, in one place and for the first time, archaeological and documentary information from settlements throughout the lower Potomac River valley. The project, which was generously funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, has served to create a baseline narrative of early colonial life in the river valley.

The purpose of the website is to report project goals, data, and results for a broad public and professional audience. We invite your interest and participation in this project and hope you find this website of value for your own research.

What to Look For

This website contains detailed information on 34 archaeological sites in the lower Potomac River valley spanning the period ca. 1500-1720. The sites represent a range of types and affiliations, including domestic, political, and fortified sites occupied by both indigenous and settler households and communities. These settler communities include Africans and Europeans.

For each archaeological site, you will find a discussion of the site's history and history of excavation, a searchable artifact and context database, artifact and field images, maps, GIS files, transcribed historical documents, and associated reports.

As you navigate this site, we invite you to consider our findings and interpretations and to use the databases yourself to confirm or to challenge those interpretations. There are many questions which we will not address as part of this project due to time and funding limitations; we hope others will use the databases to explore these avenues and develop new questions. We include opportunities for you to comment on this project and to help make this website even more useful to visitors.

About the Project

A multi-year and multi-institution collaboration standardizing and synthesizing archaeological data for important sites in the Potomac River Valley during the period 1500-1720.

Technical Data

How we gathered and organized the data, details about the databases, information for those who want to download and work with the data.

Browse the Sites

Browse the 34 archaeological sites included in the project. These site summaries include links to images, maps, GIS data, and artifact collections.

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How to Cite

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