Annual Meeting 2008


The Dickinson Farm Site (46Ka111) Data Recovery: Project Overview. Patrick H. Garrow, MACTEC, Inc.

Data recovery investigations were conducted by MACTEC on the Dickinson Farm Site in 2007 in advance of planned construction of a Wal-Mart supercenter. The Dickinson Farm site is located in the Kanawha River floodplain near the Quincy crossroads, and contains extensive archaeological deposits that date at least from the Early Archaic through Late Prehistoric periods. The data recovery was conducted under a research design and work plan negotiated with the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer in accordance with West Virginia law. This paper will provide a general overview of the site, including a discussion of prior investigations and the results of the data recovery investigations.

The Dickinson Farm Site (46Ka111): Stratigraphy and Chronology. Dr. Stephen C.Cole, MACTEC, Inc.

The Dickinson Farm Site (46Ka111) is a complex site, both archaeologically and geologically. Three distinct landforms were occupied at the site: levee, T1 terrace, and T2 terrace. Geoarchaeological analysis carried out during the testing and data recovery investigations reveals a distinct depositional history for each landform. This information is here reviewed along with stratigraphic information obtained during excavation, the archaeological content of the site, and radiocarbon dates to sketch a picture of the chronology of site use.

The Dickinson Farm Site (46Ka111): Ceramic Analysis. Dr. Judith A. Sichler, MACTEC, Inc.

The Dickinson Farm site (46KA111) is a multi-component site located on the Kanawha River in Kanawha County, West Virginia. Temporal components identified at the site include Late Archaic, Early Woodland, Late Woodland, and Late Prehistoric components. The Late Prehistoric component includes a burned pit house. The site contained large amounts of pottery, mostly from feature contexts. This paper presents a progress report concerning the analysis of ceramic artifacts from the site, focusing on the identification of surface treatment, temper, and pottery types. A sample of ceramics analyzed to date indicates Middle Woodland Armstrong Phase, Late Woodland Parkline Phase, and Fort Ancient occupations of the site.

The Dickinson Farm Site (46Ka111): Lithic Artifacts. Dr. Stephen C. Cole, MACTEC, Inc.

The Dickinson Farm Site (46KA111) yielded an enormous quantity of chipped stone and a modest amount of groundstone. Due to the size and complexity of the recovered assemblage, analysis has focused on identifying tool types and lithic raw materials. Diagnostic types indicate occupation of the site during the Early, Middle, and Late Archaic; the Middle and Late Woodland; and the Late Prehistoric period. The projectile point assemblage is dominated by Late Archaic stemmed forms. Most artifacts are made of local Kanawha Black Flint, which was extracted and processed off-site prior to advanced reduction on site. Small quantities of non-local raw materials were brought to the site from the Ohio River Valley. Groundstone artifacts include nutting stones, a bannerstone, discoidals, engraved objects, and others and were made of sandstone, banded slate, steatite, and cannel coal.

Corncob-Impressed Pottery at Late Prehistoric Sites in West Virginia. Darla Spencer, RPA, Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc.

Recent excavations at Burning Spring Branch (46Ka142) on the Kanawha River revealed pottery unlike typical Madisonville Series ceramics associated with Fort Ancient settlements. A significant percentage of the assemblage exhibited corncob impressing similar to that found in southwestern Virginia. A study of pottery from other sites in West Virginia determined that the use of this previously unrecognized surface treatment was extensive. This discovery adds weight to the argument that Siouan groups migrated through West Virginia and may have inhabited the Kanawha Valley. It also suggests that further research is needed to determine associations between the precontact inhabitants of the Kanawha Valley and those in southwestern Virginia and the Ohio Valley.


The Discovery of an Adena Engraved Tablet in Parkersburg, WV: The Low Tablet. Ed Low

The Low Tablet was uncovered in 1942 on a bluff-top in Parkersburg, WV, by a boy, Ed Low, while digging a play foxhole. Mr. Low will detail that discovery, his role in preserving the tablet, and the ensuing history surrounding this important artifact.

The Low Adena Engraved Tablet in Context.

Ed Low, the discoverer of the Low engraved Adena Tablet, came to Parkersburg, WV, last spring and pin-pointed the exact location of its find. This area now lies in the midst of a housing development located on the Ohio River bluff within the present city limits of Parkersburg. The mound(s) existing there in the past is no longer visible nor is it indicated on any early maps of the area. The tablet is typical for its type in being rectangular and possessing stylized raptorial bird engravings, but it also holds two human faces in its design. The tablet design will be discussed as well as implications of its physical location within the Adena heartland.

Archaeology at the Falling Waters Battlefield: The Battle of Hoke’s Run, 1861. David F. Klinge, M.A.

In March 2006, ASC Group, Inc. and Horizon Research Consultants conducted an archaeological investigation of the 1861 Falling Waters Battlefield near Hainesville, West Virginia. Approximately 20 acres of the core battlefield area were surveyed. While evidence of the battle was recovered, the surprising lack of small arms munitions within the survey area suggests that modern interpretations of the battlefield are not entirely correct. A review of the recent historiography of the battle, personal accounts of the action, and the results of this survey provides a new interpretation of the events that occurred along the Valley Pike in Berkeley County on July 2, 1861.

Update on the Greenbrier River-New River Frontier Fort Project. Kim A. McBride, Kentucky Archaeological Survey, and W. Stephen McBride, McBridePreservation Services

The long-term study of Revolutionary War era frontier forts continued this past year with work at Jarrett’s Fort in Monroe County, where information on two cellar features provides us with a potentially complete plan of the fort. Remote sensing and excavations were also conducted at Warwick’s Fort in Pocahontas County, where a large cellar feature was revealed and excavated. This work involved students from the Governor’s School for Math and Science and many Green Bank and Pocahontas County public school classes. The work is funded by the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Summers County Historic Landmarks Commission.


Archaeological and Historical Investigations at Fort Ashby, Mineral County, West Virginia. W. Stephen McBride, McBride Preservation Services and James P. Fenton, Bluegrass Community and Technical College


In 2007-2008, McBride Preservation Services, LLC conducted archaeological and archival research at the site of the French and Indian War era Fort Ashby in Fort Ashby, Mineral County, West Virginia. This project was funded by a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council awarded to the Fort Ashby Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Archaeological investigations focused on understanding the design and construction of the fort or forts, as there appeared to be at least two construction episodes. The archival research consisted of examining French and British reports and orders dealing with the French and Indian War in western Virginia, that were housed in the Canadian National Archives.

The archaeological investigations involved re-exposing, excavating, and analyzing previously discovered sections of the fort(s) and searching for new stockade trenches and bastions. Our excavations indicated that there were definitely two forts constructed at this site, including 1) the 1755 fort with four horizontally laid log bastions and four stockaded walls, and 2) a later fort, which consisted of an irregular stockade with at least one stockaded bastion. The archival research discovered French reports on French and Indian raids, information on white captives, one frontier fort description, and general information on French and British strategy on the frontier.

An Update on the Search for the James Blockhouse, the Blennerhassett’s First Island Residence. Jarrod Burks, Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc.

In 2008 Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc. and assorted (brave!) volunteers spent three weeks searching for the James blockhouse, the first residence occupied by the Blennerhassett family from 1798-1800 while working on their famous mansion. Our archaeological investigations followed large-scale magnetic survey and targeted shovel testing in areas outside the initial magnetic survey block. As fate would have it, the second shovel test intersected a burned layer with numerous early nineteenth century artifacts at about 60 cm below surface. Further excavation of this burned layer revealed it to be the base of a large fireplace. That was the easy part. Finding the building attached to this fireplace, and determining whether or not it is the blockhouse, has been the real challenge.

Forging the Grave Creek Stone: Who did it and How it was Done. David M. Oestreicher

Ever since it’s discovery in an ancient Adena burial mount in 1838, the Grave Creek Stone with its alleged alphabetical inscription has continued to generate controversy. In fact, it gave rise to what is arguably the biggest archaeological controversy of the 19th century. Most scholars today dismiss the stone as a hoax — an anomaly uncovered in the most uncontrolled of excavations — but no definitive evidence has ever emerged to settle the issue and the stone still has passionate defenders. Now for the first time, newly uncovered documents demonstrate that the stone is indeed a fraud and throw light upon the identity and motives of the forger.