MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville will feature special activities from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, as part of its annual Archaeology Day celebration. The program coincides with West Virginia Archaeology Month, which is celebrated throughout October. Weather permitting, most of the activities will be held outdoors. All programs are free and open to the public.

The day will include flint-knapping demonstrations and a display of tools by Robert and Jaynetta Walden of Poca, W.Va., behind-the-scenes tours of the West Virginia Archaeological Research and Collections Management Facility, a museum treasure hunt run by the Greater Moundsville Convention and Visitors Bureau, archaeological films in the museum’s auditorium, spear throwing using the atlatl, and other activities, displays, and demonstrations that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Visitors also can pick up the 2021 West Virginia Archaeology Month poster, which features petroglyphs (prehistoric images carved on rock). The poster is funded by the National Park Service and the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. 

Olivia A. Jones and Hank D. Lutton, curators at Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, will lead behind-the-scenes tours of the collection and research area. Several volunteers will be on hand doing tasks such as washing artifacts. There also will be a soil flotation demonstration in which archaeologist Amanda Valko will process samples collected in the field by rinsing them in flowing water. After the fine silt particles are washed away, the remaining bits and pieces are dried and sorted. Soil samples can contain items such as small bones, fish scales, charred seeds, and even tiny glass beads.

Lori and Andy Majorsky, members of the World Atlatl Association (WAA), will demonstrate using the atlatl to throw spears (known as darts among atlatl specialists). Lori Majorsky is a world champion of this prehistoric skill. The Majorskys and other members of the WAA will teach visitors how to throw a dart using an atlatl.  

What were prehistoric people hunting with their spears? John Boilegh of the Ohio Division of Mineral Resources will have a show-and-tell display of pelts and skulls of animals that are native to this region for visitors to examine. The prehistoric diet might also include corn, beans, and squash, often known as the Three Sisters. These crops are growing in the museum’s Interpretive Garden along with other useful plants such as dogbane and milkweed that were used for making string. Corn grinding stones will allow visitors to experience first-hand how stone tools were used to prepare a meal. 

Archaeologist and author Darla Spencer, who wrote Early Native Americans in West Virginia and Woodland Mounds in West Virginia, will greet guests and sign copies of her books, which can be purchased at the signing. The West Virginia Archeological Society will be represented by Jerrel Anderson, who will be one of the speakers in GCMAC’s Lecture and Film series in 2022. Anderson will share information regarding the Society’s activities, including its annual meeting which will be held virtually this year. Membership information and copies of the Society’s journal will be available.  

Since October is West Virginia Archaeology Month, copies of the 2021 Archaeology Month poster will be distributed along with other free literature related to archaeology. The poster features petroglyphs, images carved in large boulders or rock faces, found at five locations in West Virginia. A real petroglyph from the Wheeling area can be seen in the museum’s exhibits. Visitors will be able to make a petroglyph to take home by scratching a design into a plaque made of dried clay. 

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 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and closed Sunday and Monday. Outdoor access closes at 4:30 p.m. 

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.