Flood damage at historic Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Avella to be assessed
A team from Mercyhurst University plans to arrive in Washington County on Wednesday to assess what damage heavy rain inflicted on the archaeological remnants left by North America's oldest human inhabitants.
James M. Adovasio, provost and director of the Erie university's Archaeological Institute, will lead a team to re-excavate the Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Avella where four decades ago he discovered what is considered the earliest, well-dated archaeological site on the continent.
“The lower portions were substantially affected by the unexpected flooding,” Adovasio said.
Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, located about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is managed by the Sen. John Heinz History Center.
Heavy rains have pelted Western Pennsylvania, including Meadowcroft, this month.
Floodwater caused extensive damage to a section of the excavated site dating back 3,000 to 10,000 years, Adovasio said.
He and a small team of researchers and students will recut the excavated area, restore the site's integrity and make it viewable again for the public. Work will take at least two weeks, he said.
A farmer discovered a prehistoric flint spear point at the site in 1955. An excavation in the 1970s led by Adovasio, then at the University of Pittsburgh, revealed that humans inhabited North America thousands of years earlier than researchers previously believed.
Evidence found at Meadowcroft showed human life existed there 16,000 years ago. The belief had been that ancestors to Native Americans crossed a frozen landmass covering the Bering Strait, which separates Russia and the United States, some 12,000 years ago.
Adovasio said the flood damage isn't all bad because it offers a chance for his team to better understand the transformation of hunters and gatherers to people who settled and built communities.
“It just happens that the time frame (with the damage) coincides with some of the most important times in the history of people in eastern North America,” he said. “We'll be able to better understand these periods.
“But given our druthers, we certainly wouldn't have done this right now.”
Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Tiny black weevils booming in W.Pa.
- Man fatally shot in East Liberty; police investigating 2nd shooting
- Independence Day festivities scheduled
- Homewood West woman charged after stabbing woman during card game
- Public implored to avoid iPhone cases that resemble guns
- Fireworks displays costly, but W. Pa. communities feel obligated
- Tradition rules in Pittsburgh: Keep bridge color the same, poll finds
- Higher school taxes prevail in Western Pennsylvania, Trib finds
- Plenty going on in Pittsburgh over holiday weekend
- Pittsburgh a big draw for tourists on July 4th weekend
- Pitt researchers using grant to find cures for viruses from mosquitoes