Characterization of bricks and tiles from the 17th-century brick Chapel, St. Mary's City, Maryland

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The brick Chapel at St. Mary's City, Maryland, built around 1667, would have been an impressive structure on a colonial frontier where all the other buildings were built only of wood. While the building is no longer extant, the bricks remaining in the buried foundations hold information about the technologies and materials used by brickmakers in the 17th-century Chesapeake region. Instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) and petrographic analysis of thin sections were used to compare the Chapel bricks and other 17th-century bricks and tiles from several Chesapeake contexts to locally available clay sources. While the composition of the Chapel bricks is generally consistent with that of clays available in southern Maryland, these historic materials could not be linked to any one deposit, and may reflect the mixing of clays from multiple sources. In contrast, building materials from other 17th-century buildings at St. Mary's City could be more precisely "matched" to specific local clay deposits. This paper reports on our initial investigations toward understanding the technology of the Chapel bricks and their relationship to other bricks from St. Mary's City. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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