Bob Wall, an archeology professor at Towson University, holds a piece of pottery tempered with limestone dating back to 1000 to 1250 A.D. The relic was found at the Archeology Conservancy’s 30-acre site in Pinto.

Megan Raymond
Cumberland Times-News

PINTO — From layers of carefully sifted dirt comes the story of people who lived along the Potomac River hundreds of years ago.

“It’s not what we find — it’s what we found out,” said Bob Bantz of the Western Maryland Chapter of the Archeological Society of Maryland Inc.

Bantz, along with other archeologists and Towson University students, gathered at the Archeology Conservancy’s 30-acre site in Pinto, formerly part of the Barton Farm, for the annual weeklong excavation.

“For me, it’s one of the better sites — every time period in prehistory is represented in a single site,” said Towson University archeology professor Bob Wall.

“There’s continual occupation here for at least 10 (thousand) to 12,000 years — that is very rare to have,” said Roy Brown of the Western Maryland chapter.

This year, the site of a house in the Keyser village, which existed in the early 1400s, was discovered, said Towson senior Meredith Blake.

Last year, the northern and southern walls of the Keyser village were discovered, and this year, houses within those walls are being sought, according to Western Maryland chapter member Gary Grant.

“Whether they were long houses or circular houses and what is near them can tell us about what the Keyser people were doing,” Grant said as he examined a section of burned soil indicative of a fire pit.

Brown found tools, combs and whistles made of bone and pottery from the Susehannoca Indians who occupied the site in the 1600s.

Spear points, ceramics, bone beads, animal bones and seeds are among the excavated items that will be taken back to the university to become the basis for a report, said Wall.

“I guess the highlight was yesterday when I found a bear tooth,” said Towson senior Stephanie Roe.

Senior Dan Steil said the excavation process is more difficult than he thought it would be.

“At the end of the day, you’re tired, you smell and you’re dirty,” said Steil.

All the laborious dirty work pays off when artifacts are uncovered — sometimes, he said.

“It’s worth it every now and again.”

Jennifer Raley can be reached at

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