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Archaeology Program

Montgomery Park’s Archaeology Program identifies, manages, and interprets archaeological sites on parkland and provides opportunities to consider the effects of land use decisions on cultural resources. Excavations contribute to public education programs, restorations, park development plans and mitigation of construction projects.

The program provides for the stewardship of non-renewable archaeological resources and an opportunity for public participation in discovering our human past right in your back yard.

Summer Camps

Find out what it takes to be an archaeologist! Investigate Montgomery County’s history from the ground up with archeologists from M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks. We host Summer Camps, Extended Care sessions and Leadership Workshops. Archaeology camps are approved for SSL hours and fulfill most requirements for a Boy Scout Archaeology Merit Badge.

Archaeology Leadership Training Workshop

Needwood Mansion 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD
Monday – Friday | 8:00 am to 4:00 pm | Ages 14 and up | $405.00
– Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org
Want to become an awesome camp counselor, get hands-on archaeological experience and earn Student Service Learning (SSL) hours? Sign up for this ten-day workshop! In the first week, you’ll learn the basics of archaeological methods, get CPR training, and practice creating and planning camp activities. The second week we’ll dig into the real thing! You’ll work with campers, and have an opportunity to ask questions and get feedback in our counselors’ afternoon roundtables.

  • June 20 – July 1- course # 12379

Day Camps

Needwood Mansion 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD
Monday through Friday | 9:00 am to 3:00 pm | Ages 9 to 13 | sessions $280.00
– Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org
Get a hands-on introduction to archaeology in this 5-day camp. Work side-by-side with Park Archaeologists on a real-live archaeological site, and do what archaeologists do. You’ll dig it! Reduced fees are available for qualified applicants.

  • Session 1 – June 27 to July 1 course # 12363
  • Session 2 – July 5 to July 8 course # 12377 ($224.00*)
  • Session 3 – July 11 to 15 course # 12375
  • Session 4 – July 18 to 22 course # 12376
  • Session 5 – July 25 to 29 course # 12361

* Session 2 prices are reduced. This session runs 4-days only due to the July 4th holiday – Day Camp $216.00

Extended Care Sessions

Needwood Mansion 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD
Monday through Friday | 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm | $115.00 per session
– Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org
Kids can practice their atlatl skills (a prehistoric hunting weapon), go on a scavenger hunt, take a paddleboat ride on Lake Needwood, play a board game and more during this supervised free time.

  • Session 1 – June 27 to July 1 course # 12364
  • Session 2 – July 5 to July 8 course # 12367 ($90.00*)
  • Session 3 – July 11 to 15 course # 12365
  • Session 4 – July 18 to 22 course # 12366
  • Session 5 – July 25 to 29 course # 12362

* Session 2 prices are reduced. This session runs 4-days only due to the July 4th holiday – Camp $216.00 | Extended Care $80.00. These events are neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Board of Education of Montgomery county, the superintendent or school.

Archaeology Club

This cooperative venture is based at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland, but is open to any interested high school student. Club members will have the opportunity to do field work with M-NCPPC archaeologists approximately monthly.

The club meets every Thursday from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. at Richard Montgomery High School.

More Information

Mr. Robert Hines, Club Supervisor
Richard Montgomery High School
Social Studies Department
301-279-8400

Archaeology In Your Backyard

Prehistoric Times

It is hard to imagine prehistoric people camping in your back yard but they most certainly did. For 12,000 years before settlers arrived in America from Europe, nomadic bands of native peoples roamed our parklands. They lived near stream valleys for access to drinking water and used stream valleys as “trails” in and out of the area to hunt and gather natural resources throughout the county on seasonal food-gathering rounds.

Paleo-lithic hunters came first. They made exotic fluted (spear) points to stalk roving herds of woodland bison, elk, and moose. About 6000 B.C., a more modern climate dominated and deer became a major food source. The new Archaic or hunting and gathering peoples’ change to smaller notched points may reflect this new deer-hunting strategy.

We have yet to uncover why three-fourths of the spear points found in the county come from these Late Archaic groups (4000 to 1000 B.C.). Was it the growing population or a more favorable environment that attracted them?

After 1000 A.D., more westerly peoples expanded down the Potomac and lived in Woodland agricultural villages, which all but disappeared by 1500 A.D. Between then and European contact, the county was a buffer zone or “no man’s land” between the Algonquian tribes of Southern Maryland and the western Shawnee or more northern Iroquoian ones, such as the Seneca.

Modern Settlements

Modern settlers used the same fast-flowing creeks for agriculture and rural industries. This is evidenced by the mill roads and many mill sites that dot the landscape. As our County becomes more urbanized, these archaeological resources will be preserved within public trusts.

First expanding into the Piedmont in the 17th century, land speculators carved out large tracts along our creeks which were so important for farming and milling. Thus, our stream valley parks are among the oldest settled areas.

Eventually, the over-cultivation of tobacco wore out the land. It only recovered when farmers switched to growing grains and cerals in the 1840s. In the twentieth century, the emphasis changed to dairy production. Early in those times, Montgomery County was the third largest agricultural producer in the nation.

Our parks contain reminders of all those peoples who used the land before us and built: mills, farmsteads, slave cabins, Civil War forts, tenant farms, Reconstruction-era villages, dairy farms, quarries, and even gold mines so long ago.

Last Updated: August 9, 2016