Dec. 8, 2011
The home-grown decorations on the holiday tree at Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville are inspired by the plants prehistoric Native Americans cultivated in West Virginia.
The staff at Grave Creek used produce and seeds from this year’s Interpretive Garden to adorn the tree. The garden, planted with heirloom seeds, is based on archaeological records and information about historic Native American gardening practices.
The core Native American staples of corn, beans and squash are represented as are some lesser known plants, such as goosefoot, an edible grain. Though the Adena people who built Grave Creek Mound around 250-150 B.C. would not have been familiar with beans and corn, they would have known sunflowers, some varieties of gourds and squash, and goosefoot, which is now considered a weed.
“Visitors who view the decorations are fascinated by the originality – being both aesthetically pleasing and educational at the same time,” said site manager David Rotenizer.
Visitors are invited to create seed ornaments to take home with them between now and Sunday, Jan. 8. “The seed decoration activity is quality fun for the entire family, but is geared toward the creative minds of younger folk,” Rotenizer said.
Other plants the Adena people grew include sumpweed, maygrass, little barley and erect knotweed. Corn and beans did not become part of the daily prehistoric diet until after the Adena disappeared, but they are included in the Interpretive Garden because of their later importance as staple crops.
The tree will remain on display throughout the holiday season and a nearby exhibit helps to explain more about the plantings.
For more information, contact Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator at Grave Creek Mound, at (304) 843-4128 or e-mail her at [email protected]. Indicate in the message if you are interested in receiving notification of other upcoming events at the mound.
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 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 from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.
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.
Media Note: Photos attached.
Holiday Tree Overview Cutline:The staff at Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville used produce and seeds from the museum’s Interpretive Garden to decorate this year’s holiday tree.
Corn/Gourd Cutline: Corn, gourds and seed pods are among the decorations on this year’s holiday tree at Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville.