West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History

Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex Celebrates West Virginia Archaeology Month in October

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville invites the public to celebrate West Virginia Archaeology Month in October with a series of activities and programs. All programs are free and open to the public, and visitors can take home a free Archaeology Month poster.

The complex kicks off Archaeology Month on Saturday, Oct. 7, from noon to 4 p.m. with its annual Archaeology Day. Visitors will find a festival-like atmosphere with plenty of things relating to archaeology to see and do. Highlights of the day include flint knapping demonstrations and a display of replica tools by Robert and Jaynetta Walden; a demonstration by archaeologists Amanda Valko and Becky Piccolin showing how flowing water is used to process archaeological soil samples; spear throwing using atlatls by Lori and Andy Majorsky; members of the World Atlatl Association; and a lecture about the basics of archaeology by archaeologist David Fuerst. In addition, the entire family can enjoy a scavenger hunt for prizes and many other activities, displays and demonstrations. The program is presented with the help of many volunteers, including students from Moundsville Middle School and Youngstown State University. 

The museum’s monthly Second Saturday film, “Lords of the Gourd”, will be shown at 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14. It follows the trials and tribulations of several contestants in the annual giant pumpkin growing competition held in Cooperstown, N.Y. Moisture and nutrients must be provided, and the growers battle hungry rodents, insects and even human troublemakers. Will the prize pumpkin surpass the 1000-pound mark, or even turn out to be a 1,500-pound world record breaker? The 60-minute film is a production of Radio Pictures in association with PBS. Pumpkins are among the crops domesticated and cultivated in the Americas during prehistoric times and seeds of pumpkins and squash have been found in the archaeological record.

International Archaeology Day will be celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 21, with the PBS film, “Secrets of the Dead: Vampire Legend.” This 60-minute documentary re-examines the vampire legend through clues found in medieval burials. Archaeologists, historians and forensic specialists work together to explain this traditional belief. The film will be shown at 1and 3 p.m.

The annual Archaeology Month lecture will be presented at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26, by Dr. James M. Adovasio, senior scientist at APTIM and director of archaeology at Senator John Heinz History Center.  The presentation is titled “Meadowcroft Rockshelter 2023: Fifty Years Later.” Excavations at the Southwestern Pennsylvania site began 50 years ago. Meadowcroft is known as the first serious challenge to the Clovis-first peopling model that dominated American archaeological thought for decades. This presentation summarizes the salient aspects of the prehistoric record from Meadowcroft Rockshelter and discusses the role(s) the site has played in the history of American Archaeology.

West Virginia Archaeology month also includes the annual Archaeology Month poster, which can be picked up at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex throughout October while supplies last. The poster features cannel coal pendants made by pre-colonial Native Americans. It is produced by AmeriCorps, Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, and the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History.

Visitors at the complex can also make a magnetic note holder for their refrigerator with an archaeological theme by decorating a clothespin with an illustration of an Adena spear point at the museum’s Discovery Table. This craft is available through October during regular museum hours.

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 andrea.k.keller@wv.gov or visit www.facebook.com/gravecreekmound and www.instagram.com/gravecreekmound.

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