• NCR Regional Archeology Program

    NCR Regional Archeology Program


Prehistoric Landscapes of the Nation's Capital


The three Whitehurst sites, located near the confluence of Rock Creek and the Potomac River, are in a prime location below the Great Falls of the Potomac. The fall line was important to prehistoric peoples for three reasons: (1) it was a point of contact between different groups or cultures; (2) it was a point where people could control access to critical seasonal resources; and, (3) it was a point of constriction where people could control a regional trade artery.

During the late winter and early spring anadromous fish, like herring, leave the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay to spawn in fresh water. The late winter and early spring fish runs below the Great Falls of the Potomac provided the area's Woodland populations with an ample source of protein during the leanest months of the year. Deposits dating to 970 to 1090 A.D., at the Peter House site, point to a large settlement upslope on the high terrace. At Whitehurst West, Feature 502 may represent the refuse from an early Late Woodland village strategically located to take advantage of the fish runs.

Intro   |   Peter House   |   Ramp 3   |   Whitehurst West   |   Conclusions
Excavation Challenges