October 12, 2010
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will present the premier of a new archaeological documentary entitled “Secrets of the Valley: Prehistory of the Kanawha” on Thursday, Oct. 14. The film, sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), will be shown in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Culture Center. The doors will open at 6 p.m., followed by a brief program and introduction to the film at 6:15 p.m. The documentary will begin at 6:30 p.m. The premier is timed to coincide with West Virginia Archaeology Month.
“Secrets of the Valley: Prehistory of the Kanawha” (2010, 28 minutes) is the third film funded by the USACE documenting West Virginia’s past. It was made by Paradise Film Institute at West Virginia State University, and documents 10,000 years of pre-European occupation in West Virginia. The film also presents the prehistoric archaeology conducted for the Marmet Lock Replacement Project in Belle, W.Va. by the USACE.
Paradise Film Institute was established at West Virginia State University in 1994 for supporting independent film and videomakers in the state through resource services, production support, foreign exchanges and continuing education.
The Marmet Locks and Dam is located 68 miles above the mouth of the Kanawha River. The original twin locks were built in 1934. By the 1990s, the aging locks were no longer able to accommodate modern barge traffic and the USACE was authorized by Congress to build a larger lock. Construction began in 2002 and it became operational in 2008, reducing the average transit time from four hours to less than one.
Before construction could begin, the Huntington District of the USACE was required by the National Historic Preservation Act to consider the effects this project might have on historic properties, including significant archaeological sites. The work conducted resulted in the most extensive professional excavation in the history of the Kanawha Valley and recovered evidence for more than 10,000 years of human history. Highlights include the recovery of two points dating from the earliest known occupation in the Kanawha Valley (8,550 - 8,000 B.C.); a rare excavation of a buried Early Archaic site in West Virginia (8,000 - 6,000 B.C.); the excavation of a 15th-century fortified Late Prehistoric village with 24 houses; and the ruins of the John Reynolds antebellum salt plantation, including a slave cabin site, several salt furnace ruins and evidence of the mansion site. The local salt industry was once the largest salt producer in the country.
The USACE has agreed to turn over care of approximately 450,000 historic artifacts recovered during its archaeological excavations at the Marmet Lock replacement project to the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The majority of the artifacts will be archived at Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville in the Delf Norona Museum and Research Center.
Other artifacts include stone projectile knives and tools dating from as early as 8500 B.C.; rare sandstone cooking bowls with organic residue inside that was carbon-dated to approximately 3000 years ago; thousands of pottery shards and museum-quality stone jewelry pieces; bone, shell and stone tools; as well as objects from the Reynolds salt plantation.
For more information, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner of the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
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.