Corps Donates Thousands of Historic Artifacts to W.Va. Division of Culture and History

   An agreement to turn over care of approximately 450,000 historic artifacts recovered during the archeological excavations at the Marmet Lock replacement project in Belle, W.Va. to the W.Va. Division of Culture and History, was signed Sept. 21, 2010, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District Commander Col. Robert Peterson and Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith. 

            The majority of artifacts will be archived at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville, W.Va. at the Delf Norona Museum, with the rest of the West Virginia Archaeological Collection.

            The artifacts represent over 10,000 years of human occupation in the Kanawha Valley. Put together, the objects make up the most complete picture of human history in West Virginia at one site. 

            The agreement helps ensure that these artifacts are preserved and cared for and that they are available for exhibition. Under the W.Va. Division of Culture and History’s care, the artifacts will also be available so researchers can continue to mine them for information important to understanding West Virginia’s history and prehistory.

            Among the artifacts are: stone projectile knives and tools dating from as early as 8500 BC; rare sandstone cooking bowls with organic residue inside that was carbon-dated to approximately 3000 years ago; thousands of pottery shards and Museum-quality stone jewelry pieces, as well as bone, shell, and stone tools from a 15th Century Fort Ancient Village (this is the only village of its type completely excavated in the state); and thousands of artifacts reflecting daily life on a 19th century antebellum salt plantation from one of Kanawha County’s most important industrialists, John Reynolds, including artifacts from a slave cabin.

            The West Virginia Division of Culture and History opened an exhibit last spring in the Capitol Rotunda using some of the artifacts from the site and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has sponsored two documentary films on the site: “Red Salt & Reynolds” was released in 2003 and documents the salt industry in the Kanawha Valley; and “Secrets of the Valley: The Prehistory of the Kanawha” is set for release this fall and documents 10,000 years of pre-European occupation in West Virginia.

         For more information, contact archeologist Aaron Smith at 304-399-5720 or the Public Affairs Office at 304-399-5353.

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