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About Travis G. Parno

Dr. Travis Parno is the Acting Executive Director and Director of Research and Collections at Historic St. Mary’s City. He has 6 years of experience in museum administration and nearly 20 years of experience excavating and researching historic sites in Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Bermuda.


Historic St. Mary's City is a living history museum that encompasses 835 acres of land, more than 100 buildings, and 2+ miles of shoreline. As Acting Executive Director, Travis oversees the long- and short-term visioning and operations of the museum's six departments and approximately 70 FTEs. He also oversees the Department of Research and Collections, including Historic St. Mary’s City’s annual Field School in Historical Archaeology, the country’s longest-running program of its kind. He received a B.A. in Anthropology from the College of William & Mary, a M.A. in Historical Archaeology at the University of Bristol, and a Ph.D. in Archaeology from Boston University.

Travis’ primary research interests include early native-colonial relations in the English Atlantic world, the social and legal origins of slavery in Maryland, the functions of ordinaries in the 17th-century Chesapeake, and the role of archaeology in museums. Travis is the author and editor of various publications detailing his research and he has presented numerous papers at academic conferences beginning in 2007.

My latest projects

My Current Research

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Excavations at St. Mary's Fort

Since 2019, Travis has overseen excavations at St. Mary’s Fort, the 1634 palisaded fort erected by the first wave of European colonizers who founded Maryland. This project offers the opportunity to examine the earliest interactions between Maryland's First Peoples and the colonizers, interactions that set the stage for Maryland’s colonial and postcolonial history. But St. Mary's Fort is not the only episode of history represented by the site that bears its name. Ongoing excavations continue to reveal artifacts from the more than 10,000 years of human history in southern Maryland. The investigation of the St. Mary's Fort site and its surrounds provides vital context that demonstrates the depth, complexity, and ever-shifting nature of life in the region for millennia prior to European arrival, and gives important insights into the changes wrought by colonialism.

Recent Press

Recent Press

"Why did colonists trash this piece of armor after settling in Maryland 300 years ago?" Smithsonian Magazine

"Rare armor unearthed at site of 17th-century fort in Maryland" Washington Post

"African American burials in St. Mary's City are among Maryland's oldest" Washington Post

"'Haphazard' burial of 400-year-old skeleton from Colonial Maryland" LiveScience

"Experts unearth one of the first colonists: A teen with a broken leg" Washington Post

"Rare 370-year-old Spanish cross found at Maryland archaeological site" Washington Post

"Rare English coin found after almost 400 years at early Maryland settlement" CNN

"Rare coin dropped by first English settlers to US found in Maryland fort excavation" The Telegraph

"Rare silver coin portraying King Charles I discovered in a field in Maryland" LiveScience

"Archaeologists find rare, nearly 380-year-old English coin during Maryland dig" Washington Post

"Archaeologists Discover Artifacts From Maryland's First English Settlement" NPR/WAMU

"17th-Century Artifacts Recovered at St. Mary’s Fort" Archaeology

"Digging Into Maryland's Past" The Kojo Nnamdi Show

"Archaeologists unearth remains of 387-year-old colonial fort in Maryland" NBC News

"Archaeologists uncover first Maryland colonial site after decades-long search" Fox News

"Researchers Discover Ruins of Maryland’s Earliest Colonial Site, a 386-Year-Old Fort" Smithsonian Magazine

"Archaeologists find earliest colonial site in Maryland after nearly 90-year search" Washington Post

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