Expand AU Menu

Anthropology | Potomac River Survey

The Potomac River Archaeology Survey, part of the Department of Anthropology, has been conducting research within the immediate area and greater surrounding Middle Atlantic region for over four decades.  Investigators with PRAS have completed projects along the Atlantic Coast and inland from Maine to North Carolina.  Many of these investigations have been undertaken for the National Park Service as well as a number of local government agencies, private institutions, companies, and preservation organizations.  PRAS is concerned with cultural resources management, public interpretation and participation as well as pure research.  Projects include both historic and prehistoric archaeology.  Recent investigations in historical archaeology have focused on data recovery and analysis of sites in colonial and early federal Philadelphia.  Much of our current activity in prehistoric archaeology has been undertaken in cooperation with the Archaeological Society of Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust, Office of Archaeology.  In specific, PRAS has been excavating a series of late prehistoric Native American villages (dating from AD 1260 to 1400) along the Potomac River west of Washington, D.C.  A particular interest of this research concerns the associated social changes that accompanied the transition to a horticultural subsistence base along with the accompanying creation of new types of community landscapes.  An active laboratory and research collections facility is dedicated to all these efforts.  Dr. Richard J. Dent (potomac@american.edu) directs PRAS and its archaeological laboratory facility in Hurst Hall.  Students in the department with an interest in archaeology often find hands-on training and employment through PRAS, in both field and lab settings.