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Meadowcroft Rockshelter, a pre-Clovis site

Meadowcroft Rockshelter has been continually inhabited for 16 000 years. It is an archaeological site on the north bank of Cross Creek, located near Avella in Washington County, in southwestern Pennsylvania, United States. The site, a rock shelter in a bluff overlooking Cross Creek (a tributary of the Ohio River) is located about 36 miles west-southwest of Pittsburgh. The artifacts from the site show the area has been continually inhabited for 16 000 years, since Paleo-Indian times. Meadowcroft Rockshelter was one of the first archaeological sites in the United States to contain evidence of pre-Clovis populations.

Text above adapted from Wikipedia


Meadowcroft Rockshelter


Following construction of a new observation deck and enclosure, the Rockshelter had a reopening on May 10, 2008

Photo: Darrell Mintz 28th May 2011



Meadowcroft Rockshelter


The opening of the shelter faces dues south, and is about 90 feet or 27 metres across. About 25 feet or 8 metres was excavated right in the middle from front to back. Nine metres, or 25 to 30 feet was left on either side of this trench for future excavation. Multiple radiocarbon dates were obtained from the bottom cultural layer, dating to about 16 000 BP.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 28th May 2011
Text: Darrell Mintz and http://www.pittsburghdiary.com/Apr/avella/avella.htm




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Meadowcroft had never been a permanent settlement. This site was located on an important route westward. The Paleo-Indians stuck to the river paths, and stayed a week or two at the most. Thus there are no burials, no human remains, no permanent fixtures to be found. Adavasio's team found evidence of fires, pieces of basketry and woven mats, animal bones, and spear and arrow points and the shards of flint and chert left when the points were being made. In later layers they also found pieces of pottery.



Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter view to road


The view to Cross Creek and the road to the historical village.

Photo: http://thepreclovisandclovisdebate.weebly.com/meadowcroft-rockshelter.html




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



The rock shelter is close by a historical village recreation.

Photo: Adapted from Google Earth.




Meadowcroft Rockshelter




The area is well serviced by good roads.

Photo: Adapted from Google Maps.




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



View of the initial excavation trench at Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Washington County, PA, circa 1973.

Archeologists dug the initial excavation trench at Meadowcroft Rockshelter, seen in this photograph from the early 1970s, to assess the nature of soils and the cultural deposits located both inside and outside the rockshelter's roofline.

Photo credit: Dr. J. M. Adovasio, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute.

Photo and text via: http://explorepahistory.com/




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



View of the eastern face of the excavation under the drip line.

Photo: Mark McConaughy, August 1974

Source: http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/meadowcroft/meadcr03.htm




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



View of the "Deep Hole" excavations where the Paleoindian materials were recovered.

The earliest remains from Meadowcroft did not come from excavations within the drip-line of the rockshelter. Most came from the area excavated beside the Old Roof Fall, shown here on the right.

Photo: Mark McConaughy, August 1974

Source: http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/meadowcroft/Meadcr04.htm




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



View of profile wall in the "Deep Hole". Paleoindian materials came from the lowest levels shown.

Photo: Mark McConaughy, August 1974

Source: http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/meadowcroft/meadcr05.htm




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Selected Bifaces from Paleoindian levels. Mungai Knife is the center biface.

Photo: Mark McConaughy

Source: http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/meadowcroft/pbiface1.htm




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Lamellar Blades from Paleoindian levels.

Photo: Mark McConaughy

Source: http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/meadowcroft/pblades.htm




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Heat treated Flint Ridge Chalcedony flakes from the Paleoindian levels, from quarries between Newark and New Concord, Ohio

Photo: Mark McConaughy

Source: http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/meadowcroft/flntrdg.htm




Meadowcroft Rockshelter miller point
Miller Lanceolate Point.

The Pre-Clovis lithic assemblage from Meadowcroft is comprised of flaking debris, blades, a large flake knife (the Mungai Knife), and a lanceolate projectile point — the Miller Point.

The Miller point from Meadowcroft is small, lanceolate, and was produced from fine-grained local chert. While the geologic provenance for the chert is uncertain, it is found locally (pers. comm.. J. Adovasio, June 2003) and is opaque and light gray, with yellow and purple striations on both faces.

Boldurian (1985) describes the Miller point as having a distinctive base with straight margins that "articulate with the straight basal attribute margin at angles of 97 degrees." The point was produced via the removal of parallel, overlapping biface thinning flakes, most of which traverse the centerline to create a lenticular cross-section.

Personal examination of the point revealed slight unifacial bevelling PA Prehistoric Data Synthesis, Raccoon Creek Watershed 23 along two lateral margins, suggesting possible retouching for use as a knife.

Photo: Mark McConaughy
Source: http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/meadowcroft/paleopt.htm
Text above adapted from: GAI Consultants (2003)




meadowcroft lithic assemblage







The Miller Lanceolate point, named for Albert Miller, the owner of the site and the man who first realised the potential of the site for the study of early humans in the Americas.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection.

Source: Heinz History Center




Meadowcroft Rockshelter miller point
Miller Point from Meadowcroft Level IIa

The Miller point was named for Meadowcroft Rockshelter discoverer Albert Miller, and was made from local stone 12 000 years ago.

Thinning of the base is "unique," including lateral thinning on one face, and lateral and end thinning on the opposite face. Slight grinding is also present on all portions of the base to prepare it for hafting.

The Krajacic Site, located on a hilltop ca. 10 miles southeast of Meadowcroft, yielded fragments of possible Miller points in various stages of biface reduction, each of which contribute to the notion that the points fit a Paleoindian reduction pattern.

Photo: S. Patricia, courtesy of J. M. Adovasio, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute, Erie, Pennsylvania.

Text: Boldurian (1985)


Cactus Hill miller point





A triangular projectile point from Cactus Hill Virginia, very similar to other points from sites such as Meadowcroft, and the Miller point from there in particular.

Photo: From a cast in the collections of the Anthropology Dept, National Museum of Natural History, courtesy of Dennis Stanford.

Source: Haynes (2002)




meadowcroft lithic assemblage

Lithic Assemblage from Meadowcroft Rockshelter.

Archaeologists uncovered a wide variety of lithic artifacts from the Rockshelter, including these projectile points and tools. The Miller Lanceolate point, named for Albert Miller, is at left.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection.

Source: Heinz History Center




meadowcroft points and blades

Examples of small prismatic blades from Meadowcroft Rockshelter (36WH297).

The first drawing at the top left of this image is the same blade as the second from the left in the image above of lithic artifacts.

Photo: S. Patricia, courtesy of J. M. Adovasio, Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute, Erie, Pennsylvania.

Source: Goodyear (2005)




meadowcroft archaic points

Archaic Period Points found in levels above the Paleoindian materials.

Left to right: Stanley Point, Savannah River-like, Savannah River-like, Savannah River-like, Untyped Side Notched.

Photo: Mark McConaughy

Source: http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/meadowcroft/archpts.htm




Mark McConaughey





Archaeologist Mark McConaughey excavates on the Rockshelter’s east wall, July 1974

Archaeologists carefully remove the dirt from a dig so they can see a profile of the site. This profile is a sideways look at the history of the site. A profile helps archaeologists understand the site’s stratigraphy.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection.

Source: Heinz History Center




Profile pointer





The archaeologist is pointing at a dark spot on the wall profile. The dark color indicates a cultural feature.

A box of cultural feature markers sits nearby while a chart to the right illustrates the east to west profile of the Rockshelter. Everything excavated at the Rockshelter was carefully documented

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection.

Source: Heinz History Center




Profile in colour

Cultural Features at Meadowcroft Rockshelter, 2007

Archaeologists located many cultural features at the rockshelter. The red area (F16B) in this photograph shows the location of a prehistoric firefloor.

Cultural feature F336 is the profile of a hole that was dug through a firefloor and later filled in. The hole may be evidence of a post once used at the site.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection.

Source: Heinz History Center




meadowcroft lithic assemblage







Simple Basketry Fragments from Meadowcroft.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection.

Source: Heinz History Center




meadowcroft lithic assemblage







Large Basketry Fragment photographed in situ at Meadowcroft Rockshelter.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection.

Source: Heinz History Center




meadowcroft corn cob fragments







Corn Cob Fragments from Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection.

Source: Heinz History Center




meadowcroft bone fragments



Bone Artifacts From Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Archaeologists found an assortment of bone objects at Meadowcroft. Many of the bones were those of animals used for food.

The objects pictured here are bones shaped by human craft, including the awl located at left and part of a bone or ivory disc at right.

(Note that the bone awl at the left has been grooved at one end to accept a cord, possibly so that it could be placed around the neck, ready for use in sewing tasks - Don)

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection.

Source: Heinz History Center




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



A scanned colour image of the site (ca 2006?) after temporary roofs were built to protect the site, but before the 2008 structure was built.

It was found necessary to roof over and close off the opening to the cave, as during one winter the site had been vandalised by locals, looking for arrowheads.

Photo: http://www.lc.pitt.edu/




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



This is a very important photograph looking across Cross Creek, and the road, to the site, at a time when the first wooden structure over the excavation trenches had been erected, April 1975

Photo: Mark McConaughy, April 1975

Source: http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/meadowcroft/meadcr07.htm




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter

The new enclosure and roof allows for protection of the site, and the ability of viewers to see the entire site without interfering with the ongoing scientific studies.

The shelter was used occasionally for periods of one to three days at a time by small parties up till about 1750. A big ceiling rock, shown in this photo on the right, is believed to have fallen around 12 000 BP and has yet to be removed.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 28th May 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Dr. James Adovasio, who began excavating at the Meadowcroft site in 1973, treats rockshelter visitors to his expertise on the subject.

This photograph shows the professional quality of the roof and walkways which have been erected to both preserve the site, and to allow visitors the chance to see a working archeological dig.

Photo: http://www.observer-reporter.com/meadowcroft/rockshelter/




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



From the same lecture, showing the other entry for visitors at the back of the shelter.

Photo: http://library.byways.org/

Photographer: Ed Massery, Public domain




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter



All excavations are meticulously recorded, and the white circular tags record places where important finds such as artifacts were discovered, or where carbon-14 dates have been determined.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 28th May 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter

The site used rigorous methods for all excavations, in excess of what was 'required' at the time, but necessary once the results came in, and the dates showed the lowest deposits to be pre-Clovis.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Some parts of the site have been left unexcavated, to allow for later research.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter


Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter


Meadowcroft Rockshelter

An important series of shots of the dig, photographed in series from the back to the front.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Hundreds of years of history are revealed in this labelled work face. The top level is 1973; the top right tag labels 1775, and the tag at middle right labels year 1265. A new enclosure has been built over the site so it can be opened to the public.

Photo: Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette Text: Post-Gazette, 2008/05/04




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Cross Creek, where the original inhabitants would have got their water, is a magical place, with no sounds but the rustling of the breeze in the trees, the birds, and the creek flowing by.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 28th May 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Travelling down Cross Creek, we come to what appears to be the remains of a former bridge, with the rock shelter just up the slope from that point.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Walking further down Cross Creek, we can see a sandstone shelf jutting out above the water.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Further down still, the forest closes in, giving a view of what the area must have been like thousands of years ago.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Above the rock shelter is a river terrace or bench, where a visitor centre has been built.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter

The visitor centre is well built and organised.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



These tools are reproductions on display at the centre.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 28th May 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



The tools and reproduction artifacts have been beautifully presented.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 28th May 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Woven quiver, arrows, and furs.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter

This knife was as sharp as a razor. Many enthusiasts are very skilled in reproducing ancient tools and artifacts to the same high quality as ancient specialists.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 28th May 2011

Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Joe Candillo is the man who has made all the arrows, bows, and tools shown above. He is not only a consummate artist, he is currently pursuing a PhD in American Studies at the University at Buffalo with a concentration in American Indian traditional arts.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011






Here is a fascinating and instructive account of Joe Candillo and his father John, members of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, building a wigwam, from the website:

http://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/

It is a fascinating website which details living history behind the scenes at Pricketts Fort, where Pricketts Creek joins the Monongahela River in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.

Meadowcroft  wigwam

In recent days a new structure has appeared in a grove of trees within sight of Pricketts Fort, an Eastern Woodlands Indian wigwam. Constructed by Joe Candillo and his father John, members of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, with help from Pricketts Fort staffers Michael Ray (potter & militiaman) and Aaron Bosnick (native interpreter), the work gets underway on 6th June 2008 when the Candillos pull up to the fort with a trailer-load of cut saplings: hickory, ash, oak and other hardwoods. The first step, shown here, is to strip the bark from the lower end of each pole.

Text and photos adapted from: http://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/beyond-the-fort-walls-a-wigwam-takes-shape/




Meadowcroft  wigwam



The next step is to char the stripped ends of each pole in a fire. This hardens and dries the wood, and provides a barrier to rot, mould and insects.

Text and photos adapted from: http://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/beyond-the-fort-walls-a-wigwam-takes-shape/




Meadowcroft  wigwam



Then, using the circular outline of the structure marked on the ground, the first two poles are set in place to form the initial arch.

Text and photos adapted from: http://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/beyond-the-fort-walls-a-wigwam-takes-shape/




Meadowcroft  wigwam



Further arches are then added to stabilise and strengthen the framework.

Text and photos adapted from: http://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/beyond-the-fort-walls-a-wigwam-takes-shape/




Meadowcroft  wigwam



Once all the arches are in place, horizontal stringers are added one at a time, beginning at the top & working down, not forgetting to leave an opening for the door.

Text and photos adapted from: http://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/beyond-the-fort-walls-a-wigwam-takes-shape/




Meadowcroft  wigwam



The intersections are firmly bound with cordage and strips of bark.

Text and photos adapted from: http://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/beyond-the-fort-walls-a-wigwam-takes-shape/




Meadowcroft  wigwam



At this point the frame is ready to receive large sections of bark, which are fastened around the base first, with successive layers overlapping the one below to make a weatherproof structure.

Text and photos adapted from: http://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/beyond-the-fort-walls-a-wigwam-takes-shape/




Meadowcroft  wigwam



The completed wigwam. It is a comfortable and weatherproof shelter.

Text and photos adapted from: http://prickettsfort.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/beyond-the-fort-walls-a-wigwam-takes-shape/




Meadowcroft Rockshelter

A similar wigwam at Meadowcroft, also made by Joe Candillo, but covered with grass matting instead of bark. When funding is available, a more authentic covering will be substituted. Wigwams varied in size ranging from seven feet to about twenty feet in diameter.

The frames of Eastern woodlands wigwams were made from bent saplings and covered with reed mats and bark. In Northern areas where birch were plentiful , bark was stripped from the trees and sewn together with spruce root into rolls as long as fifteen feet. These were called apakwas by the Chippewa.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011

Additional text: http://www.treefrogtreasures.com/forum/showthread.php?19115-Woodland-Village/page2




Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Indian village recreation circa 1640

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Visitors can try their hand at an atlatl or spear thrower. The photo on the right has the dart shown flying through the air.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Even beginners can get the hang of the method, though much practice is required to get consistently accurate long range shots.

Photo: Darrell Mintz 21st August 2011




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Key sites in the general area of which Meadowcroft Rockshelter is one.

Photo: GAI Consultants (2003)




Meadowcroft Rockshelter flint sources map



Flint sources in the general area of Meadowcroft Rockshelter. In particular, Flint Ridge Chert (or Chalcedony) has been identified in the lithic assemblage.

Photo: GAI Consultants (2003)




History of Research

Adovasio et al. (1975)


Meadowcroft Rockshelter is located on the property of Meadowcroft Village, a restored predominantly 19th century, rural community operated by the non-profit Meadowcroft Foundation. The village was developed by Albert and Delvin Miller (Vice-President and President, respectively, of the Meadowcroft Foundation) on a portion of their old home farm presently some 800 acres in extent. The farm and the rockshelter have been in the continuous posession of the Miller family since 1795. The original patent of the 1780s was a Virginia land grant.

Due to its location within the precincts of Meadowcroft Village as well as the specific protection afforded by Albert Miller even prior to the creation of the village, the rock- shelter has escaped serious despoliation.

The archaeological potential of the shelter was long suspected by Albert Miller though he refrained from any excavations until 1967. In that year, his enlargement of a badger(?) burrow yielded lithic debitage, shell and faunal remains confirming his suspicions of aboriginal occupation at the shelter. Efforts to interest professional archaeologists in the site resulted in its recording in 1968. For one reason or another no excavations were initiated and the site remained, with the exception of the original ca. 60 x 60 x 60 cm Miller "badger" hole, untouched until 1973.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Albert Miller and Dr. Adovasio at Meadowcroft Adovasio, 1990s

Photo: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection

Source: Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Pennsylvania's largest history museum.




During the spring of that year, the site was brought to the attention of the Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh. A visit to the shelter and a subsequent test excavation culminated in a formal application to the Meadowcroft Foundation to initiate major excavations in the summer of 1973. Permission for the proposed work was immediately forthcoming and the 1973 excavations were begun in mid- June and terminated in late August. The results of the first season warranted a second and work was resumed in early June 1974 and terminated in early September of that year. During the 102 working days of 1973-1974, some 57.95 m2 of surface area were excavated resulting in the removal of 98.55 cubic meters of fill. In addition to the excavations at Meadowcroft Shelter, a massive multi-period settlement pattern study of the entire Cross Creek drainage was begun in 1974.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter



General plan of the excavation.

Photo: Adovasio et al. (1975)




Meadowcroft Rockshelter





Dr. James Adovasio, lead archaeologist at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Photo: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection

Source: Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Pennsylvania's largest history museum.




Meadowcroft Rockshelter





University of Pittsburgh Archaeological Research Program Field School at Meadowcroft Rockshelter, July 19, 1973.

The Meadowcroft archaeological team lived on site during field school excavations. Their large tent is dwarfed by the overhanging rocks near the Rockshelter. In the lower left of the photograph, student archaeologists sift soil removed from the excavation site.

At the lower right, tools and equipment clutter the entrance to the site.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection

Source: Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Pennsylvania's largest history museum.




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Composite north-south profile of stratigraphy in Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Photo: Adovasio et al. (1975)




Meadowcroft Rockshelter


Field School at Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Archaeologists are engaging in a number of excavation- related tasks, including digging and record-taking. Buckets of removed soil and tools wait nearby.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection

Source: Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Pennsylvania's largest history museum.




Meadocroft Rockshelter

Early Archaic and Paleoindian Radiocarbon Dates

Listed in stratigraphic order

Mark McConaughy

14 January 1999

http://people.delphiforums.com/MCCONAUGHY/Meadowcroft/meadow.htm


 Date B.P.         +/-        Uncorrected Date B.C.          Cultural Association          Lab No.  
8 010 110 6 060 Early Archaic SI-2055
9 075 115 7 125 Early Archaic SI-2064
11 300 700 9 350 Paleoindian SI-2061
12 800 870 10 850 Paleoindian SI-2489
13 240 1 010 11 290 Paleoindian SI-2065
13 270 340 11 320 Paleoindian SI-2488
14 925 620 12 975 Paleoindian SI-1872
15 120 165 13 170 Paleoindian SI-1686
16 175 975 14 225 Paleoindian SI-2354
19 100 810 17 150 Paleoindian? SI-2062
19 600 2 400 17 650 Paleoindian? SI-2060
21 070 475 19 210 Paleoindian? DIC-2187
21 380 800 19 430 None - Pedological Sample SI-2121
30 710 1 140 28 760 None - Pedological Sample SI-1687
30 900 1 100 28 950 None - Pedological Sample OxA-364
31 400 1 200 29 450 None - Pedological Sample OxA-363



Faunal list from Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Adovasio et al. (1975)


ClassGenusSpecies        Common Name        
Mammals CanisfamiliarisDomestic Dog
  CervuscanadensisWapiti, American elk
  Marmota monaxWoodchuck
  Microtus pennsylvanicusMeadow Mouse
  OdocoileusvirginianusWhite Tailed Deer
  Peromyscus sp.mouse
  Procyon lotorRaccoon
  Sciurus nigerFox Squirrel
  Silvilagus floridanusEastern Cottontail Rabbit
  Sorex sp. Shrew
  Urocyon cinereoargenteusGray Fox
  Vulpes fulvaRed Fox
    Bat
     Bat
BirdsBranta canadensisCanada Goose
  Meleagris gallopavo Turkey
     Non-aquatic Fowl
     Non-aquatic Fowl
Reptiles Chelydra serpentinaSnapping Turtle
  Sternothorus maculosusMusk Turtle
  TerrapenecarolinaBox Turtle
Amphibians NecturuscarolinaMud Puppy
Fish   Perch?
    Trout?
Others CamburusobscurusCrayfish




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Archaeological Field Lab at Meadowcroft Rockshelter, 1970s

Archaeologists work at a field lab station in the Rockshelter, sorting and numbering artifacts for identification purposes.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection

Source: Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Pennsylvania's largest history museum.




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Detail of the photo above.

Archaeologists paint a small white spot on each artifact and then use black ink to write an identification number. Numbers are logged on a field form at the right in the photograph.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection

Source: Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Pennsylvania's largest history museum.







Flora from the Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Adovasio et al. (1975)


Genus               Species                                                  Common Name                                   
Acer sp.Maple
Aesculus sp.Buckeye
Carya cordiformisbitternut
Carya glabraPignut
Carya laciniosaShellbark
Carya ovataShagbark
Celtis tennuifolia or occidentalisHackberry, Dwarf Hackberry
Carya tomentosaMockernut
Chenopodium sp.Chenopods, various local names such as Goosefoot
Cichorium intybusChicory
Claytonia carolinianaCarolina Spring Beauty
Coreopsis tripterisTick Weed
Darcus carrotaWild Carrot
Fagus grandifoliaAmerican Beech
Juglans cinereaButternut
Juglans nigraBlack Walnut
Mentha arvensisWild Mint
Monarda punctataBee Balm
Phaseolus(?) vulgaris(?)Beans(?)
Pinus strobusEastern White Pine
Prunus cerasusSour Cherry
Quercus albaWhite Oak
Quercus palustrisPin Oak
Rhus copallinaShining Sumac
Rhus typhinaStaghorn Sumac
Rubus sp.Raspberry
Thuja occidentalisNorthern White Cedar
Tsuga canadensisEastern Hemlock
Vaccinium sp.blueberry, deerberry
Verbena urticaefoliaWhite Vervain
Zea maysCorn




Meadowcroft Rockshelter



An archaeologist uses a trowel and dustpan to remove soil from the excavation site. Other tools wait on the ledge above him. Excavating must be done slowly and carefully!

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection

Source: Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Pennsylvania's largest history museum.






Meadowcroft Rockshelter



Many of the total of 11 strata at the Rockshelter are visible on the east wall. The white tags are feature markers, indicating where pieces of evidence, such as artifacts, are found.

Photo and text: Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Collection

Source: Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Pennsylvania's largest history museum.







Contemporary Flora in the Vicinity of Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Prepared by P.G. Wiegman

Adovasio et al. (1975)


GenusSpecies     Common Name     Occurrence
Acer nigrumBlack MapleRare
Acer rubrumRed MapleCommon
Acer saccharumSugar MapleCommon
Asimina trilobaPaw-PawUnderstory
Betula nigraBlack or River BirchCommon
Cerkis canadensisRed BudUnderstory
Fagus grandifoliaAmerican BeechCommon
Fraximus americanaWhite AshCommon
Hamamelis virginianaWitch HazelUnderstory
Juniperus virginianaEastern Red CedarRare
Ostrya virginianaHop HornbeamCommon
Platanus occidentalisSycamoreCommon
Prunus serotinaBlack CherryCommon
Quercus albaWhite OakCommon
Quercus rubraNorthern Red OakCommon
Sassafras albidiumSassafrasCommon
Tilia americanaBass WoodCommon
Tsuga canadensisHemlockCommon
Ulmus rubraSlippery ElmCommon




The Dating Controversy

When Professor John Adovasio published results for dating of the Meadowcroft Rockshelter site at 16 000 years, he found himself at the centre of a storm of scientific debate.

The prevailing opinion amongst archeologists was that no site in the Americas was older than the 13 000 - 13 500 year old Clovis culture, characterised by an iconic projectile point which uses bifacial percussion flaking to produce a relatively thick but symmetrical point, with concave longitudinal shallow grooves called "flutes" on both faces, one third or more up from the base to the pointed tip, allowing it to be attached to a wooden dart thrown by hand or by a spear thrower (also called an atlatl).

Clovis Points
Clovis points from the Rummells-Maske Site, 13CD15, Cedar County, Iowa, These are from the Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist collection.

Photo: Bill Whittaker

Date:2010-04-09

Permission: licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.




Since that storm erupted, Professor Adovasio has shown that the criticisms are without foundation. Meadowcroft is one of the most carefully excavated and dated sites in the world, and since the controversial dates were published, other sites have been found in the Americas of similar age.

In 1999, a remarkably well preserved site at Monte Verde, Chile was found to have been inhabited 14 800 years BP, thereby breaking the Clovis First barrier which had stood for fifty years. More than a dozen sites indicative of human habitation before 13 500 years ago have now been discovered throughout North and South America.





References

  1. Adovasio, J., Gunn, J., Donahue J., Stuckenrath, R., 1975: Excavations at Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, 1973-1974: A Progress Report. Pennsylvania Archaeologist 45(3), pp.1-30.
  2. Boldurian, A., 1985: Variability in Flintworking Technology at the Krajacic Site: Possible Relationships to the Pre-Clovis Paleoindian Occupation of the Cross Creek Drainage in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.
  3. GAI Consultants, 2003: Pennsylvania Archaeological Data Synthesis: The Raccoon Creek Watershed (Watershed D of the Ohio River Subbasin 20) Bridge Replacement Project T-319 Beaver County Bridge No. 36 (Links Bridge) Independence Township, Beaver County, PA Prepared for Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Engineering District 11-0 Submitted by GAI Consultants, Inc.570 Beatty Road Monroeville, PA 15146-1300 GAI Project No. 2002-441-10 December 2003
  4. Goodyear, A., 2005: Evidence for Pre-Clovis Sites in the Eastern United States, Paleoamerican Origins: Beyond Clovis, a Peopling of the Americas Publication
  5. Haynes, G., 2002: The Early Settlement of North America: The Clovis Era Cambridge University Press, 2002





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