Archaeology Program

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On-going Projects | Volunteer Opportunities | Events & Summer Camps | Archaeology Club | Contact Us

Montgomery Parks’ 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 the past right in your back yard. Learn more below.


The Archaeology Program is working on several on-going research and education projects to explore the past in Montgomery County. These include:

Josiah Henson Site

Located in North Bethesda, this is the site where the Reverend Josiah Henson –  an escaped slave, minister, abolitionist, and late 19th-century celebrity – was enslaved between c. 1800-1830. This area was once known as the Riley Farm and covered almost 300 acres, Montgomery Parks owns the Riley residence and about 2 of the surrounding acres.

On-going archaeological excavations have revealed that parts of the Riley plantation remain intact, covered by the green lawns of modern suburban lots.

Parks staff members Jamie Kuhns and Cassandra Michaud gave a presentation at the 2015 Montgomery County History Conference on the current research.

Time Team America at Josiah Henson Park!

“The Search For Josiah Henson” – PBS Documentary
The Josiah Henson Park archaeological site was one of four American sites selected in 2012 by Time Team America for inclusion in their second season. Time Team America brought their high-tech equipment to help us learn more about a very special man in American history, the Reverend Josiah Henson. Henson was a former slave whose autobiography inspired the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Visit the Time Team America website to learn more about “The Search for Josiah Henson.” Explore the over-the-archaeologists’-shoulder view of discoveries made at our very own Josiah Henson Park in the documentary, “The Search for Josiah Henson!

Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park

Oakley Cabin is a 19th century African American historical archaeological site in Brookeville, Maryland. Montgomery Parks archaeologists have been investigating the area around the existing cabin, as well as two adjacent cabins that once stood along Brookeville Road. Thanks to a grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, Montgomery Parks can revisit Oakley’s extensive archaeological collection. The goal is to catalog and analyze the artifacts that have been recovered over the years and continue to research the vibrant African American community that lived here during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Bussard Farm House Kitchen

Parks Archaeologists excavated under the kitchen wing of this structure during the recent renovations by CRSS. The goal of the excavation was to identify any previous structures, and to aid in the interpretation of Bussard Farm House through the artifacts. Excavations revealed a chimney collapse from the original farm house, as well as thousands of artifacts related to the late 18th-19th century residents’ lives, including buttons, pins, animal bones, ceramic items, and glass ware. Artifacts from the site are in the process of being cataloged and analyzed, and will help tell the story of life at the Bussard Farm.

Zeigler Log House

During the last few years, Montgomery College students and Montgomery Parks Archaeology Camp participants have unearthed clues about the Zeigler Log House’s past. These clues, in the form of artifacts and features, are giving us a glimpse into the lives of the people who lived at the site for over 180 years. We have concentrated on the back and side yards of the house and have found traces of outbuildings and walkways. We are just at the beginning of cataloging and analyzing the data. Our goal is to complete the picture of life on a historic rural farm in northern Montgomery County.

Palmer-Robinson Rockshelter

Located along the Potomac River and used at various times during the past 5000 years, this rockshelter was excavated in the early 2000s. Artifacts recovered include projectile points, Native American ceramic fragments, animal bone, and debitage (waste material from the manufacture of stone tools). The current project involves analyzing the artifacts and highlighting this little-known period of Montgomery County’s past through a report and public displays.


Volunteers are one of our best assets! We encourage the involvement and participation of individuals of all ages in this program. Please do nt hesitate to contact us if you have questions or need additional information.

Needwood Archaeology Lab Volunteers
Needwood Mansion, 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD | Wednesdays | 9:30 am – 2:30 pm

We are currently cataloging artifacts from a variety of projects. Volunteers can also participate in public outreach programs throughout the year, and excavations during the summer.

Camps and High School Programs
Since 1984, High School students have broadened their curriculum through our award-winning volunteer program specifically aimed at younger audiences.

Archaeology Society of Maryland, Mid-Potomac Chapter
You can also join in the fun through a cooperative venture with Archaeological Society of Maryland (ASM) Mid-Potomac chapter. Visit http://www.asmmidpotomac.org/ for more information.


Special Events | Summer Camps

Special Events

Discover Archaeology!
Zeigler Log House at Little Bennett Regional Park
10 am – 12:00 noon | $5 per person | Reservations required | Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org starting February 12

  • Saturday, April 7  | Course 45932
  • Saturday, May 19 | Course 45937

The whole family will enjoy learning the secrets of this historic rural farm with the help of professional archaeologists. Make new discoveries as you learn hands-on techniques, talk about and learn from the artifacts you might find. Tour the historic Ziegler Log House and investigate hidden clues that tell the story of its former residents. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult.

Family Archaeology Day
Needwood Mansion 6700 Needwood Rd, Derwood, MD
10 am – 3 pm | $10 per person | $20 family | Pay on-site. No Registration Required | Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org

  • Saturday, May 5 | Course 45940

Needwood Mansion opens its doors to the public for a day of investigating archaeology. Join costumed interpreters in a tour of the 1854 “Sunnyside” house. Visit the Civil War Surgeon Dr. Stonestreet and soldiers encamped in the yard. An introduction to archaeology for all ages featuring:

  • 19th-century Slave Quarters Dig Exhibit
  • Mansion Tours
  • Simulated Archaeology Dig for Children
  • Storytelling, Old-time games and Crafts

Bring a bag lunch and stay for the day! Read about Family Archaeology Day.

NEW! Archaeology Detectives
Needwood Mansion, 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD
9 am – 3 pm | Ages 6 – 9 | Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org

  • July 2 – 6 | $240 | Course 44335
  • July 23 – 27 | $300 | Course 44336

Campers uncover clues left by people of the past! They will get hands-on experience learning about excavation and artifact identification. Each week we’ll take a field trip to a historical site.

NEW! Road Trippin’ to the Past!
Needwood Mansion, 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD
Tues. &  Thurs. 9 am – 3 pm, Wed. 8 am – 4 pm | $325 | Ages 9 – 13 | Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org

  • July 9 – 13 | Course 44341
  • August 20- 24 | Course 44342
  • August 27- 31| Course 44343

Hit the road with Parks Archaeologists on the Underground Railroad Experience Trail or follow in the footsteps of a Union soldier along the Potomac River. Tuesdays and Thursdays, we will explore the local area. Wednesdays, we will travel to places like the Jefferson Patterson Archaeological Park in Calvert County or the Gettysburg battlefields.

Questions? Contact us or call 301-563-7530

Archaeology Summer Camps

Needwood Mansion, 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD

Find out what it takes to be an archaeologist! Investigate Montgomery County’s history from the ground up with archaeologists from Montgomery Parks. We host Summer Camps, Aftercare sessions, and Leadership Training Workshops. Registration starts January 16.

Archaeology camps are approved for SSL hours and fulfill most requirements for a Boy Scout Archaeology Merit Badge.

Camps for Children – 9 am – 3 pm | $300 | Ages 10 – 13

  • June 25 – 29 | Course 44328
  • July 16 – 20 | Course 44332
  • July 30 – August 3 | Course 44333

Get a hands-on introduction to archaeology. Work side-by-side with Park Archaeologists on a live archaeological site, and do what archaeologists do. You’ll dig it! Reduced fees are available for qualified applicants. Registration starts January 16 at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org.

Camps Aftercare – 3:00 – 5:30 pm | Available for all youth and teen courses

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. Registration starts January 16 at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org.

Leadership Training Workshop – 8:30 am – 3:30 pm | $300 | Ages 14+

  • June 18 – 22 | Course 44327

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. Registration starts January 16 at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org.

Camp Assistant Program* – 8:30 – 3:30 pm | Ages 14+ | Pre-requisite: Leadership Training

  • June 25 – August 3
  • August 20 – 31

Brought to you by: M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks and The Archaeology Society of Maryland, Mid-Potomac Chapter. These events are neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Board of Education of Montgomery County, the superintendent or school.

Questions? Contact us or call 301-563-7530.

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Last Updated: January 8, 2018