MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville is pleased to present archaeologist Amanda Valko as the first speaker of its monthly Lecture and Film Series in 2022 on Thursday, March 31, 2022, at 7 p.m. Valko’s lecture, “How I Became an Archaeologist,” will share her experiences building a career as a professional archaeologist, having started as a volunteer. The program is free and open to the public.

Valko received a B.S. in dietetics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and began her career as a dietitian. An avid interest in archaeology led to membership in the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, where she had the opportunity to participate in archaeological excavations. With experience came leadership roles, including leading work on archaeological excavations and being elected state-wide president of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology. Her passion for archaeology directed her path to earning an M.A. in anthropology with a focus in archaeology at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Drawing on her previous career as a dietitian, her master’s thesis examined “The Prehistoric Diet and Nutritional Status of the Wylie Site Inhabitants. ”

Valko’s interest in foodways of the past has continued. Visitors to Archaeology Day held each October at Grave Creek may remember meeting her and her husband, Brian Fritz, elbow-deep in a barrel of water demonstrating soil flotation. Flotation, in a nutshell, is used to process soil samples by rinsing away fine particles of clay and silt while recovering small archaeological items such as seeds and small bones that can be fascinating clues to prehistoric diets. 

The Wylie Site, located near Washington, Pa., dates to around A.D. 1000-1550, and is identified as an Early and Middle Monongahela site. Valko will also describe several other important sites where she has worked, but also what it is like to conduct everyday field surveying and lab work.  

            Operated by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex features one of the largest conical burial mounds built by the Adena people between 250 – 150 B.C. and ranks as one of the largest earthen mortuary mounds anywhere in the world. 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 houses the West Virginia Archaeological Research and Collections Management Facility.

Admission to Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex is free. The Delf Norona Museum, located at 801 Jefferson Avenue, is open 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and closed Sunday and Monday. Access to the Mound and other outdoor areas closes at 4:30 pm. 

For more information about activities and programs at Grave Creek Mound, contact Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator, at (304) 843-4128 or [email protected] or visit www.facebook.com/gravecreekmound and www.twitter.com/gravecreekmound.