St. Mary's City in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Out the Door
There were no bathrooms at that time. Only one outdoor privy from colonial times has been identified in St. Mary's City, but fragments of indoor chamber pots are common.
Trash was simply thrown out the door in surface piles called middens. Archaeologists find clues about how buildings and yards were used by examining the location and contents of trash middens. Broken pottery, animal bones, oyster shells, and organic wastes can suggest where 17th-century doors, gates, and pathways once existed.
Deposits of organic waste, including human waste, cause phosphate concentrations. This map shows a fairly clean front yard inside the fence, but a major peak near a gate. A big cluster in the back yard matches a trash midden, while peaks around corners of the quarter represent out-of-site locations where people answered nature's
Trash was thrown into middens like this one at the Godiah Spray Plantation. Free ranging chickens and pigs picked through the trash for edibles.
"...make a soft fire & put quick-silver therein & hang the lousy garments over the smoake. Comb it near the fire for nits..."
To drive lice away — Thomas Palmer,
The Admirable Secrets of Physick and Chyrugey, 1636
This small bone comb had closely space teeth on one side to remove lice from human hair. This type of comb is the most common variety found during archaeological excavations.
Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Science & Medicine • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1636.
Location. 38° 11.159′ N, 76° 26.053′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Old State House Road west of Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 47414 Old State House Road, Saint Marys City MD 20686, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. All Things Fit for a Capital (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to the Waterfront (within shouting distance of this marker); Upon This Shore (within shouting distance of this marker); "…for the good and happy Government" (within shouting distance of this marker); Mathias de Sousa (within shouting distance of this marker); From Many Lands (within shouting distance of this marker); Watery Highways (within shouting distance of this marker); Meet Garrett Van Sweringen (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 4, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 79 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.