January 5, 2010
Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville has initiated a new children’s activity for the winter season in the Delf Norona Museum at its popular Discovery Table, entitled “Seeds for Survival.” Visitors are invited to learn how prehistoric Native Americans survived winter through the collection and domestication of plant seeds. Admission to the museum and all activities are free and open to the public.
Children can make seed designs by gluing seeds of staple crops such as corn, beans, and sunflowers on cardboard backgrounds. The seed cards include string so that they can be hung as a decoration. In addition, the museum has installed a new wall display which highlights how seeds were used for winter survival by the area’s prehistoric people. Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator for the complex developed the activity and says “Seeds became an important aspect of Native American lifeways–they truly were ‘seeds for survival.’”
Plants played an important role in Native American cultures. Many seeds were stored for later use and were important staple foods for making it through the lean winter months. Wild seeds such as nuts, chestnuts and acorns were often collected. The people who built Grave Creek Mound during the Early Woodland time period, however, were on the verge of discovering a whole new way of surviving. They used domesticated plants such as sunflowers, squash, pumpkins and gourds, as well as some oily and starchy seeds that are considered weeds today. Archaeologists have found seeds from these plants that have been altered from their wild cousins in a process known as domestication. Later in time, corn and beans also were added to the prehistoric diet of the region.
The “Seeds for Survival” activity and wall display will be available through March 20.
David E. Rotenizer, site manager for the mound, says “It is important that the public is aware that the Delf Norona Museum is open throughout the year with new programs constantly being offered, and new exhibits on display, all free of charge.” Visitors can also see four traveling exhibits on display, Women of Design: Embassies, Mansions, and Stately Homes–Pat Bibbee and Vivien Woofter; Marble King: the World’s Finest Marbles; Homer Laughlin China Company; and Ladies Fashion Dolls of the Nineteenth Century by Pete Ballard.
Operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex features the largest conical burial mound in the New World which ranks as one of the largest earthen mortuary mounds anywhere in the world built by the Adena people. A massive undertaking, construction of the mound took place in successive stages from 250-150 B.C. and required the movement of 57,00 tons of earth, approximately three million individual basket loads.
Exhibits and displays in the Delf Norona Museum interpret what is known about the lives of these prehistoric people and the construction of the mound. The complex also has a new wing which houses the West Virginia Archaeological Research and Curation Facility, as well as a study room for researchers and a library. Contact the complex for information regarding group registration and detailed driving directions. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays. Access to the mound and gift shop closes 30 minutes before the museum. Visitors should note that during the winter months, access to the mound may be limited due to ice, so they are encouraged to call in advance.
For more information about Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, contact Rotenizer at (304) 843-4128 or e-mail him at David.E.Rotenizer@wv.gov.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.