MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. – Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville will celebrate Archaeology Month this October with a host of activities for the whole family, including two films, ghost stories, a lecture on slave-based agriculture and archaeology and discovery table craft projects and give-aways. All activities are free and open to the public.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, the mound will air the Public Broadcasting Service film Secrets of the Dead: Headless Romans (PG, 2007, 60 min.) at 1 and 3 p.m. The documentary tells the fascinating story of the discovery of more than 45 decapitated, Roman-era skeletons that were unearthed in the back garden of a house in York, England. This astonishing discovery led to an unprecedented scientific investigation to identify the remains. Were these men savagely murdered pagan prisoners? Were they soldiers who were killed in battle or executed for crimes against Rome? Modern forensics, archaeological sleuthing, and historical records point to a surprising answer.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, from 2 – 3 p.m., storyteller Rich Knoblich of Wheeling will regale visitors with tales of mystery and suspense centered around the lower Wheeling District and into Marshall County in an illustrated program titled “Historic Ohio Valley Ghost Tales.” Knoblich has won multiple Liars Contest awards at the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston. He performs material gathered from a variety of traditional sources, and often blends traditional folk tales with his own creative writings for enjoyable family entertainment.
Robert Maslowski will present the Archaeology Month lecture at 7 p.m., on Thursday, Oct. 20, titled “Plantation Archaeology, Industrial Slavery and the Glenwood Project.” Maslowski, a retired archaeologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District, will discuss how slave-based agriculture and the salt industry were two of the most important economic pursuits in the early history of West Virginia. The treatment of the enslaved workers differed greatly because slaves in the salt trade were leased instead of owned directly. These differences are revealed in excavations at the Jenkins Plantation on the Ohio River, the Reynolds home and slave cabin at the Marmet Lock Replacement Project and the Glenwood Estate in Charleston.
The Discovery Table will have free Museum Memory Books filled with puzzles and activity pages for families to fill out and enjoy after their visit through Oct. 22. Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 25, they can make a “Ring-and-Pin Game” at the table. This game involves catching a ring that is attached to a stick. The rings are made from squash that grew in the museum’s Interpretive Garden. The game will be available through Nov. 12.
Visitors also are invited to tour the newest exhibits at the museum. Prehistoric West Virginia, features casts of some of the large Ice Age animals that once roamed in West Virginia, including skulls of the saber-tooth cat and dire wolf, perhaps two of the most famous prehistoric carnivores in North America. There are casts of the short-faced bear, giant ground sloth and an eight-foot tall fossilized mammoth leg. The exhibit also showcases a Dimetrodon, a mammal-like reptile that predated the first dinosaurs by several million years. Fans of the television series Game of Thrones will recognize the dire wolf, which serves as a pet and protector to many of the characters on the show.
The Buried Past: Artifacts from West Virginia’s Wild, Wonderful History showcases West Virginia archaeological sites and represents a wide range of people, places and time. Prehistoric Native Americans are represented in the Saint Albans, Fairchance, Saddle, Mount Carbon and Buffalo exhibit cases. Early settlers are represented by two frontier fort sites (Warwick’s Fort and Arbuckle’s Fort), and a frontier cabin excavated at the Hevener Site, while excavations on Blennerhassett Island focus on the time when the Blennerhassett family lived there in their mansion. The Civil War is represented by Camp Allegheny, and a look at the Victorian Era is provided through excavations at the United States Federal Building and Courthouse in Wheeling.
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.
Operated by the West Virginia Division of 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., and may be closed all day during inclement weather.
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.