the 1940s amateur archaeologists in West Virginia began to actively
excavate and collect the many archaeological sites along the Kanawha and
Ohio Rivers. Every time a field was plowed new artifacts were discovered.
a few of these sites were Indian villages with burials. The amateurs
collected and excavated at the sites for years and when the West Virginia
Archaeological Society was formed in 1949, they became charter members.
There were no professional archaeologists in West Virginia until the
1960s. Some of the amateurs kept meticulous records and catalogues of
artifacts they found and in many cases that is all that remains of the
an archaeological site is recorded with the State Historic Preservation
Office, it is given a three part number known as its trinomial
designation. The first part represents the state, in this case 46 for WV.
The second part indicates the county, for example, MS for Mason, and the
third part is the number in sequence of sites recorded in the county.
At the present time, approximately 300 archaeological sites have
been recorded for Mason County.
village sites were occupied during the Late Pre-Contact period,
approximately A.D. 1000 to 1650. In the Ohio Valley they were part of what
archaeologists call the Fort Ancient Tradition. Fort Ancient villages were
usually circular, with square or rectangular houses built around an open
central plaza. The villages were located on the floodplain or terraces of
major rivers. Many later villages were enclosed within a palisade wall for
villagers were farmers, raising corn, beans, and squash. They hunted a
variety of fish and wild game, the most common of which was the
white-tailed deer. Contrary to what many people believe, no buffalo
remains have ever been found from this time in West Virginia.
It appears that the buffalo came into the valley later, probably
after the villages were no longer occupied.
hunted game with bows and arrows tipped with triangular arrow heads
and used a variety of stone, shell, and bone tools and personal ornaments.
Many exotic artifacts have been found from this time, such as the marine
shell gorget, that originated in the Southeast, and copper items such as
hair tubes, bracelets, and tinklers that were probably attached to
clothing. Native copper was imported from the Great Lakes region or
Virginia. They made and used a variety of types of pottery tempered with
mussel shell for food preparation and storage. Musical instruments such as
turkey bone whistles and bone rasps have also been found.