2013-08-08 / Local & State

Archaeologists Go To Historic Pa. Cave

By Kevin Begos

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PITTSBURGH (AP) – A team of archaeologists has started work at an ancient cave dwelling to assess damage from recent heavy rains in western Pennsylvania.

Archaeologist Jim Adovasio set off a furious scientific debate in 1973 by uncovering evidence at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter showing humans had inhabited the area 16,000 years ago – thousands of years earlier than previous estimates.

Adovasio and a team from Mercyhurst University in Erie expect to re- excavate a storm-damaged section of the National Historic Landmark for at least two weeks in the wake of heavy rains that caused the damage on July 19. The team began work Wednesday.

The Meadowcroft site is located beneath an overhanging cliff on a tributary of the Ohio River, about 35 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. Archaeologists consider it to be one of the most complete records of continuous human use in North America.

Adovasio said that it has taken “the better part of 4 decades to process the huge assemblage of material’’ that came out of previous digs.

He said that the recent water damage was in one way regrettable but also gives the team an opportunity it wouldn’t have otherwise had.

“We would not be excavating to this scale were it not for the recent torrential downpour,’’ he said.

The area that was damaged wasn’t the part of the site with the oldest record of human use, but one that was used from about 8,000 years ago to 1,000 years ago. Adovasio said that’s a time period when some fairly dramatic changes took place in early societies.

Adovasio said the team will use the latest recovery techniques to add to the historical understanding of the site.

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