September 20, 2010
Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville will resume its annual lecture series on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m., in the auditorium of the Delf Norona Museum. The series is being held in conjunction with the Upper Ohio Valley Chapter of the West Virginia Archeological Society. The lectures are free and open to the public.
The September program is entitled The Jackpot Rockshelter Mystery. The talk will be presented by David N. Fuerst, cultural resource specialist at the New River Gorge National River.
The Jackpot Rockshelter site is located in Fayette County, and it once provided protection from the elements for the prehistoric people who made it their home. It was discovered by two New River Gorge National River park rangers. Amazingly, the site had not been raided and destroyed by pothunters, people who seek artifacts from past civilizations for personal use, sometimes by illegal means, without adhering to professional standards of archaeology.
Fuerst was contacted by the park rangers who found the site, and upon inspection, he found himself at a pristine site that could be a significant window into the past. While collecting artifacts from the site, Fuerst found a chip or flake of obsidian, a natural glass that can be knapped (chipped) into razor-sharp tools. Obsidian does not occur naturally in West Virginia, but was often obtained through trading. The obsidian was later tested at Radford University and compared to samples from Wyoming. Fuerst also will discuss the latest findings in his investigation of this ancient site.
Fuerst currently serves as an archaeologist and historian for the National Park Service. He is assigned to the New River Gorge National River, the Gauley River National Recreation Area, and the Bluestone National Scenic River. He also has worked as an archaeologist for the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina, Edwards Air Force Base in California, Fort Drum Army Base in New York and various archaeological consulting firms and state agencies including the West Virginia Geological Survey. In addition, Fuerst is a doctoral candidate at the University of Kentucky. “This upcoming lecture will help to illustrate and inform the audience on the often overlooked Native American heritage of the New River Gorge area, which is quite impressive,” said David Rotenizer, site manager at the complex. “We are pleased to host what promises to be an informative case study of archaeological discovery and investigation,” he added.
For more information about the lecture, contact Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator at Grave Creek Mound, at (304) 843-4128 or e-mail her at Andrea.K.Keller@wv.gov. Indicate in the message if you are interested in receiving notification of other upcoming programs at the mound.
Additional lectures this year include The Earliest Americans: Current Perspectives on Paleoamerican Origins, Arrivals, and Life WaysThe Resurgence of Anikituwa: Language and Cultural Revitalization among the Eastern Band Cherokee by Travis L. Henline, site manager at West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling, on Nov. 18.
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. A massive undertaking, construction of the mound by the Adena people took place in successive stages from 250-150 B.C. and required the movement of 57,000 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 also can 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.
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.