« Back to "Potomac River"
eLibrary® Essential Topics

Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson

Popular imagination would have it that history in Potomac Country began with George Washington. And little wonder, since in this land of piedmont, valleys, and ridges, signs of a more distant past practically don't exist, except to the archeologist. In Potomac Country, almost nothing tangible remains of ancient native peoples and cultures except place names, mostly of creeks and rivers.

Nevertheless, in this carefully researched work, historian James D. Rice pieces together an epic story of environmental change and its effect on native cultures in this region, and how their adaptations continued to shape human settlement in the region during the colonial period and beyond.

Rice begins his narrative with a mystery: Although much of the basin of the upper (non-tidal) Potomac had abundant good soil, game, and fish, early colonial-era maps show it to have been virtually uninhabited. Rice looks for an explanation in a series of events that began with climate change. The onset of a warming trend in the eighth century, coupled with the development of a variety of maize with a shorter growing season, turned hunter-gath...

Previewing 29% of this document