Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville has opened a new permanent exhibit entitled, A Thousand Years Apart: Saddle Site and the Bluebird Site. The exhibit features artifacts and interpretative text from two adjoining Native American archaeological sites located in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia near the Pennsylvania border. The display was installed to coincide with West Virginia Archaeology Month, and was last on display in 1992.
The two sites were excavated in 1991 by Archeological Services Consultants of Columbus, Ohio, which was under contract with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The sites were discovered prior to the construction of a dam which would destroy one site and disturb the other. Both sites were deemed significant enough to qualify for the National Register of Historic Places. Because of that, federal law required that they be excavated prior to construction of the dam.
The sites represent long-term Native American settlement in the Dunkard Fork drainage area. The Bluebird Site had been continuously occupied over two centuries, while the Saddle Site was occupied by “one community which came and went over several years, and later by another community which did the same,” according to an SCS report. Based on radiocarbon dated wood samples, the Bluebird Site was active between 400 - 600 A.D., while the Saddle Site’s earliest settlement was 1186 A.D. with a later occupation in 1396 A.D.
A range of artifacts were recovered from the sites including several adzes which were used to carve wood and fell trees. An x-ray study of one adze determined that its mineral content indicated it came from a source 10 miles east of Lynchburg, Va., some 190 miles away. Two mica fragments found likely came from a source now known as Mount Mitchell, N.C. Beads and other items from marine animals originated in the Gulf Coast area. In addition, the exhibit includes stone projectile points and other tools and more objects including a partially reconstructed globular vessel dating to ca. 1400 A.D. Occupants of both sites belonged to the Monongahela Culture, which ranged from Pennsylvania, West Virginia to eastern Ohio.
“We are fortunate to have such an informative exhibit available for the public to view and to hopefully gain a better understanding and appreciation for the long Native American occupation of the Mountain State,” said David Rotenizer, site manager of Grave Creek Mound. “We are delighted that the exhibit will be available for Archaeology Weekend this coming Saturday and Sunday,” he added.
For more information about the exhibit, contact Rotenizer at (304) 845-4128 or e-mail him at [email protected]
Visitors also can see the four new traveling contemporary 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 and ranks as one of the largest mortuary mounds anywhere in the world, built by the prehistoric Adena people. A massive undertaking, construction of the mound took place in successive stages from about 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 complex’s 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. The Archaeological Complex is located at 801 Jefferson Ave., in Moundsville. Contact the museum for information regarding group registration and detailed driving directions. The museum is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Access to the mound and gift shop closes 30 minutes before the museum.
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.
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