March 16, 2012
“Late Archaic Shellfish Use at the East Steubenville Site” will be the topic of discussion when Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville continues its monthly lecture and film series at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 29. Lisa M. Dugas, senior archaeologist at GAI Consultants, Inc., of Homestead, Pa., near Pittsburgh, will be the featured speaker. The program is free and open to the public.
Dugas will provide information about prehistoric freshwater mussel shell use that has been discovered at archaeological excavations associated with the expansion of W.Va. State Route 2 near East Steubenville, Ohio. This site was inhabited approximately 4,000 years ago by prehistoric Native Americans known as the Panhandle Archaic people.
The East Steubenville site is well known to archaeologists for the large number of freshwater mussel shells that were carried from the river and piled into heaps, called middens. Parts of more than 15,000 shells from 26 species have been recovered. Their location, on a wind-swept ridge spur some 300 feet above the Ohio River, led Dugas to question why the Panhandle Archaic people made such an effort to carry the shells up the tall, steep hillside and whether the shells were used for food, tools or ritual ceremonies. She and her team analyzed each piece of shell and conducted experiments, including cooking the mussels and using the shells as tools.
Dugas first became interested in archaeology as an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her master’s of arts degree in applied archaeology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where her research explored the manufacture and style of bone artifacts from Late Prehistoric sites. For the last 10 years, she has been particularly interested in the prehistoric archaeology in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle. She specializes in analyzing faunal remains and fish scales from archaeological sites, as well as uses for Panhandle Archaic freshwater mussels and their shells.
David Rotenizer, site manager at Grave Creek Mound, says “Specialized analysis is a fascinating aspect of archaeology and this program presents a unique insight into the early Native American occupation and lifeways in the Northern Panhandle region.”
The 2012 lecture series continues Thursday, April 26, when David Scofield, director of the Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village in Avella, Pa., will present “Telling a Big Story: Preservation and Public Presentation of the Meadowcroft Rockshelter and History Village.”
For more information about the lecture and film series, which is held in conjunction with the Upper Ohio Valley Chapter of the West Virginia Archaeological Society, contact Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator at Grave Creek Mound, at (304) 843-4128 or email her at Andrea.K.Keller@wv.gov. Indicate in the message if you are interested in receiving information about upcoming events at the mound.
Operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex features one of the largest conical earthen mortuary mounds anywhere in the world. The Delf Norona Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Mondays. Outdoor access closes at 4:30 p.m. and may close due to inclement weather.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.