Phase II Archaeological Excavations at 99 Main Street, 18AP21 (Sign of the Whale), Annapolis, Maryland

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Historical Annapolis Foundation (HAF) conducted terrestrial archaeological investigations at site 18AP21 in the city of Annapolis, Maryland. Excavations were carried out at this National Register site ostensibly as a Phase II project to evaluate the site and assess the need for further work. The site is at 99 Main Street in the center of downtown Annapolis, near the Annapolis waterfront. The project was carried out as part of the advanced work for the Annapolis History Center project, to be built in the adjoining buildings of 99 Main and 196 Green Streets. The buildings are the property of the Historic Annapolis Foundation and located in Maryland Research Unit 7. The excavations were undertaken by HAF, and funded by HAFF. The work was conducted for HAF and MHT, who holds an archaeological easement on the property. This preliminary phase of work included stratigraphic excavation of two testpit units. These two units revealed that the site of the existing 99 Main Street building was the location of three previous constructions. The current building at 99 Main Street, built in 1791, was preceded by an earlier brick dwelling, evidenced by a stout pier of bricks, which was attached to a wooden-sided structure that stood on a foundation of brick and stone. Ceramics indicate that these buildings date to the early-middle of the 18th century. A third structure of post-in-ground construction, evidenced by recovery of burned posts and wood fragments, likely existed prior to these, but evidence was scant. These excavations reveal that the site of 18AP21 holds potential for understanding Annapolis's early cultural developments, especially in the area of initial settlement and the origins of waterfront commerce. The assemblage of artifacts recovered includes a broad sample of common 18th century pottery such as creamware and Chinese export porcelain, and also includes some early colonial types such as tin-glazed earthenware and various red-bodied slipwares. The excavations do not provide conclusive evidence of the construction sequence. Consultation with MHT representatives indicates that further work at the site will likely be needed before modifications to the floor of the building can progress.