In this episode of Yinzer Backstage Pass, we visit a working archaeological site for a behind-the-scenes tour at Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village.
Arriving at Meadowcroft located in Avella is like stepping into a time machine. Dave Scofield, director of Meadowcroft, met us at the entrance and accompanied us to the namesake rockshelter for our first jump in time.
It was 1955 when Albert Miller, the original owner of the land, took a closer look at a groundhog hole and discovered artifacts that led him to believe that his site had been inhabited for a very, very long time.
Fast forward to the 1970s, when a few archaeological digs and some carbon dating shocked everyone with the realization that this rockshelter site has been in use by humans for 19,000 years. Until that point, it was thought that humans only made it to the Americas 15,000 years ago.
Archaeological digs are still conducted at the rockshelter today, and researchers continue to find weapons, animal bones and plant remains that were used and discarded by the site’s early inhabitants. Scofield says the natural rock overhang made this a perfect spot for early settlement, and the creek below the site provided a constant source of fish and water, as well as a potential mode of transportation.
Scofield is quick to point out that the rockshelter is only one small part of the Meadowcroft complex. It is also home to a recreation of a Monongahela Indian Village, a frontier trading post from the 1770s, and a historic village made up of a one-room schoolhouse, a church, an operating blacksmith’s shop, and a log house that dates to 1800 and was built Miller’s grandfather.