We first learned of Meadowcroft in an article my mother shared with us from her Pennsylvania AAA magazine. Always being fascinated with things ancient we both put it on our list to visit someday. We figured it would go well with a visit to my oldest brother's home in Pittsburgh. Years passed and the visit didn't happen until now. When I told my brother about Meadowcroft he couldn't wait to see it so a month or so ago took his wife and three of his grandchildren there. He was just as fascinated by it and willing to drive us there (over an hour one way) to see it again. This we did on Friday on what started out as a gloomy rainy day but cleared off to be beautiful weather.
Though Meadowcroft also has re-creations of an Indian Village of 1000 AD, a trading post of the 1770s, and a village of the 1800s the real draw for me was the rock shelter. Here have been found artifacts of prehistoric hunters and gathers from 16,000 years ago. This makes it the oldest site of human habitation in North America. There is a wonderful story about how these artifacts cam to be found and came to be preserved. Well worth the visit to Avella, Washington County, PA.
We started at the Indian Village circa 1000 AD.
Wigwams for sleeping and storing food.
Brush shelters for quick temporary shelter.
Gardens of corn, beans and squash were just starting to be planted in 1000 AD. Those vegetables originated in MesoAmerica and over many centuries of trade made there way to the Ohio River valleys.
Tobacco is in the forefront.
Before bow and arrows became prevalent ancient man used the atlatl to add distance to spear throwing. My brother tried it.
Dan tried it and I did too.
Before heading to the Rock Shelter we watched a video on how it was discovered.
An elaborate wooden shelter has been built over the site.
This creek made this spot perfect for hunters/gatherers to stopover for days or weeks but none lived long term here.
Over time massive boulders from above have landed in the shelter which is why the artifacts from 16,000 years ago survived. They were buried by rock.
A very knowledgeable staff person filled us in on the story of discovery and answered our questions.
That dark line on the back stone marks the soil line of present day.
Dr. Adovasio made excavating Meadowcroft his life work.
Layers carefully marked. Some so thin that razor blades had to be used to excavate. When the archaeologists got to the level that had been thought to be the oldest age of human habitation (13,000 years ago) they didn't expect to find artifacts under that. They kept excavating and were surprised to find more artifacts even older than what was previously found for humans in North America.
Not all of the shelter has been excavated. Over 1/3 is left for the future when there may be new technologies to be applied.