Jordan Swamp (18CH694)
The Jordan Swamp I site (18CH694) consists of a mostly wooded knoll overlooking an
unnamed small stream feeding Jordan Swamp in Charles County, Maryland. Jordan Swamp
I is a small Native American site that appears to have been occupied intermittently
from the Late Archaic through the 17th century. The site is believed to be associated
with the Zekiah Indians, Zekiah Fort (1680-ca. 1692), or both.
The Jordan Swamp I site is part of Zekiah Manor, a 9,000-acre proprietary manor laid out
by Charles Calvert, the Third Lord Baltimore, in 1667. The manor is located north of
modern-day La Plata and includes part of Waldorf; the Jordan Swamp I site is located
at the manor's northern end.
At the time the manor was erected, Zekiah Indians were living in the area, and Calvert
later directed his agents to interview the Indians when efforts were made in 1673 to
resurvey the manor's boundaries. That same year, Calvert built a house he intended for
use during the summer somewhere on Zekiah Manor; that site has not been found although
it is possible that it was on His Lordship's Manor south of Jordan Swamp. The Jordan
Swamp I site does not appear to be the site of the Calvert summer house.
The portion of Zekiah Manor containing the Jordan Swamp I site was patented for 200 acres
in 1714 to Luke Gardiner. Gardiner transferred the property, known as Mistake, to Bowling
Speake in 1718.
The Jordan Swamp I site was discovered in 2001 during a Phase I archaeological survey of the
proposed Route 301 Bypass near Waldorf. The site, which was discovered through shovel testing
(n=7), yielded 16 Potomac Creek ceramic fragments, stone flakes, fire-cracked rock, and projectile
points. One of these points was a quartz Levanna (triangular) point. The Jordan Swamp I site
was interpreted as a "hamlet, representing the settlement of a small single or extended family
domestic group. Such settings may reflect refuge settlement during the Late Woodland to early
In 2010, St. Mary's College of Maryland excavated 60 additional shovel tests at the Jordan Swamp
I site in the search for Zekiah Fort. The SMCM grid was aligned with Maryland State Plane. Shovel
tests were excavated at intervals of 25 feet with fill screened through ¼-inch mesh. All artifacts
were retained. These investigations revealed a relatively small settlement on relatively good
soil surrounded by poor soils with no evidence of earlier occupations.
The 2010 investigations at the Jordan I Swamp yielded 172 artifacts. The majority of the artifacts
consist of lithics, including shatter (n=25), flakes (n=89), cores (n=1), tools (n=1), projectile
points (n=3), and fire-cracked rock (n=6). Of the three projectile points, only two are complete
enough to be typed and include a quartzite Halifax point and a rhyolite Kanawha point. Native-made
ceramics include four fragments, including two Potomac Creek fragments (one of which is cord-marked),
one Mockley net-impressed fragment, one Popes Creek cord-marked fragment, and one unidentified
fragment; the unidentified fragment is probably Potomac Creek.
The recovery of a single English flint flake along with the relatively high numbers of Potomac Creek
ceramics (in 2001) (many fragments of which are plain) suggests that the Jordan Swamp I site, which
appears to have been occupied throughout prehistory, was also occupied in the 17th century. If the
site was occupied in the 17th century, it may represent a hamlet associated with the Zekiah Indians
that Governor Charles Calvert reported were in the area, or possibly a hamlet associated with the
Zekiah Fort (1680-ca. 1692), located approximately three miles south of the site.
While the Colonial Encounters project focuses on the period between 1500 and 1720, the Jordan Swamp I
site reveals a long history of occupation, an important fact of indigenous life in this region and one
that almost certainly shaped the region's colonial encounters.
Barse, William P., Daniel B. Eichinger, and E. Madeleine Scheerer.
2002 Phase I Terrestrial Archaeological Survey, US 301 Southern Corridor, Charles
and Prince George's Counties, Maryland. (URS Corp.) Prepared for the Maryland State
Highway Administration, Report Number 229.
Flick, Alex J., Skylar A. Bauer, Scott M. Strickland, D. Brad Hatch, and Julia A. King. 2012.
"…a place now known until them:" The Search for Zekiah Fort.
St. Mary's City, St. Mary's College of Maryland.
Further Information on the Collection
The Jordan Swamp I collection is privately owned and curated by St. Mary's College of Maryland. For more
information about the collection and collection access, contact Julia A. King, Professor of Anthropology,
at 240-895-4398; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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