Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Grave Creek Mound’

Remote Sensoring Used at the Moundsville Mound

Bev at Mound 2 (2)

While climbing Grave Creek Mound, this young lady wonders about the past.

What’s inside Grave Creek Mound at Moundsville, WV? That’s a question many people are curious about. Years ago someone actually made a tunnel into the Mound and found some interesting things. An eight foot tall skeleton with copper bracelets and mica breastplate were discovered and actually placed on display for some time in a museum inside the Mound.

Mound Speaker

Alexander is doing a doctoral study on use of varied equipment to receive data on what is inside the Mound.

Now, archaeologists are not able to disturb ancient burial grounds so an alternative method of looking inside is being tried. In the spring of 2016, Alexander Corkum, a doctoral student at the University of Bradford in West Yorkshire, UK, used a non-invasive technique to investigate the Grave Creek Mound.

Modern equipment was used, such as: (ERT) electical resistivity tomography, topographic survey, GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey, and photogrammetry. Most of this equipment had never been seen before in the valley. Actually, Grave Creek Mound is the first place this combination of equipment has been used anywhere in America, according to Corkum. The only previous place for gathering data with this equipment was at England’s Stonehenge, where they discovered a new Super Henge.

Mound Explorer

This GPR produces a type of picture of the internal Mound as it gets readings from electronic currents sent into the ground.

In the past, archaeologists have had digs to find pieces of history hidden under the ground. With this new equipment, they are hopeful to find images that will give valuable information about the past without disturbing the ground. Corkum feels that archaeology is destructive.

His team feels that every place does not require excavation. They feel the best way to preserve history is to keep it in the ground, while doing a remote geological survey.

The GPR had been taken up and down the mound in several directions to get as many remote sensory readings as possible. An electronic current is injected into the ground and this produces a radargram. My mind wondered if this was similar to an MRI of the ground.

Mound Drone

This large drone contains a better camera, which produces clearer pictures.

Drones were also used to take pictures – photogrammetry. They were programmed to take pictures every foot and can then produce a model of the object being photographed, in this case the Grave Creek Mound.

When asked why they came to Grave Creek Mound, they replied, “There’s no other place quite like it.”

For several days, data was collected but little legitimate conclusions have been reached at this point in time. They expect valuable data will be available when the results are carefully analyzed. This could take several months.

One thing the data will not clearly show are fossils and artifacts. Radar will show different disturbances in the ground area such as stones, water and soil density.

Mound student

This high school student was lucky enough to get to assist with the experiments.

Jarrod, a sophomore at John Marshall High School, was fortunate to be able to assist with this project throughout the week. His youth enabled him to climb the mound time after time, pulling the equipment. Some days that included as many as seventy trips. Jarrod was very knowledgeable about the mound and interested in the process. Someday this exceptional young man hopes to become a geoarchaeologist.

Mound Drone Overhead

A drone flies overhead taking pictures during its flight.

After the lecture, everyone went outside to either walk to the top of the mound, or watch as they demonstrated the drones taking pictures.

The final result of all this imagery will be to construct a model of the mound both inside and out. There is always something new to explore in the interesting world in which we live.



Wild Heart Brings Spirit Alive



Mindi at Opening

Mindi Yarbrough, artist Wild Heart, recently had her Opening Night at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville, WV.

Artists work in many different ways. Some paint exactly what they see, while others add a little imagination to their pictures. Mindi Yarbrough has an added element in her paintings. She captures the spirit of the person or animal. Mindi portrays herself as “a self taught and self described outsider artist.”

Mindi started drawing at the age of five. Her love of nature shines forth in everything she does. As a little girl, she enjoyed playing in the creek, where she would enjoy nature and catch snakes (and just about any other animal, insect or amphibian she could get her hands on).

“All kinds of snakes,” she explains, “but I was never afraid of them, despite being bitten many times, and often kept them as pets.” Snakes are Mindi’s power animal. She even has tattoos of them on her arms. Snakes have been associated with shamans. In fact in some cultures, snake bites are an initiation and pre-requisite into shamanism.

Mindi's The Crow Holds the KeyThe crow holds a special attraction to her as she feels it has a magical quality. It holds the magical key to the womb of fundamental energy where all possibilities exist. Crows live all around the world, reminding us that magic can be found everywhere. They often are associated with healing and the universal law.
Mindi's OwlOwl is Mindi’s dream-time guide helping to navigate the unconscious world.  The Owl serves as the keeper of ancient wisdom and can see the secrets and agendas of others. The Owl is a prophet who can see, hear, and feel events before they transpire. 
Mindi Dream CatchersHer dream catchers are up-cycled art with the center web being a doily, with a hand macrame hoop and fringe made with cotton twine and yarn. Dream catchers have been part of Native American culture for generations. They are usually hung by the bed at night to catch bad dreams before they disturb your sleep. There is a hole in the center to let the good dreams slip through.Mindi FeathersFeathers are important in the Native American tradition also, as they are seen as gifts from the sky, the sea and the trees. Often a feather has a message as it lands on or near someone. It reminds them of a spiritual connection that we all have to our creator and with passed loved ones. The gift of the feather is represented by passion – passion for your gift from the Creator – Mindi’s passion being artistic vision.Mindi's Bear Woman

This painting of Bear Woman makes me smile. It tells a great Blackfoot Legend of the older sister and her bear. Mindi has even added the end of that legend as she shows the star constellation of Ursa Major in the background. All of her work shows depth and meaning.

Mindi Christmas treeUpon leaving the art show, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree glowed in the hallway. The Mound Museum Christmas tree is decorated with plants that were important to those prehistoric Native Americans living in the area. The people who built Grave Creek Mound probably grew small gardens, which included squash, sunflowers, pumpkins, gourds, and goosefoot – the decorations on this tree.

It’s no surprise that Mindi works in the field of art on a daily basis. At present she is Art Director and Senior Graphic Designer at Beyond Marketing in Wheeling, WV. Her expertise lies in designing just what the customer desires.

Mindi has been drawing and painting since childhood. She smiles as she tells others, “I have never wanted to be anything other than an artist, except maybe a mermaid.” Mindi would definitely be a very special mermaid!


Mammoth Mound Mysteries Grave Creek Mound Complex

Mammoth Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, WV

Mammoth Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, WV

Step back in time, way back in time, to 200 BC.  Buried beneath the surface of this gigantic mound in Moundsville, West Virginia are ancient treasures from two thousand years ago.

Driving past this 62′ high mound, many people possibly see it merely as a big pile of dirt. But when you explore inside the Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex located beside it, you discover surprises regarding this unusual structure in Moundsville near the Ohio River. For many it will get their mental wheels turning as they want to search for more information.

To get a better picture of the area in your mind, Grave Creek Mound, the largest conical mound in the United States, is 62′ high with a base of 240′ and was surrounded with a moat, which has since been filled in. There was only one way across the moat – an earthen path. This was part of a much larger ceremonial area, which seemed to begin at the Ohio River.

The mound was built over a period of 200 years with burial vaults at different layers.

The mound was built over a period of 200 years with burial vaults at different layers.

This Adena burial mound required a lot of work to move 60,000 Tons of earth to form this mound over a period of years.  Included are multiple burials at different levels from 250 – 150 BC. It appears to have been build in stages with most of the burials being by cremation.

Since it seems that people arrived on the Ohio River, there was what many called a Sacred Way leading from the river to The Mound. But the Way didn’t stop there, as it turned at right angles to an octagon shape, which is no longer in existence. This Sacred Way was actually paved back 2000 years ago…with mussel shells. How do we know this? When ground was moved for building the homes and stores in Moundsville, layers of mussel shells several inches thick were found along The Sacred Way. Hopefully, you are beginning to form a picture of what could have been.

Display at Grave Creek Mound of objects found during an early dig at the mound.

Display at Grave Creek Mound of objects found during an early dig at the mound.

Back in 1838, some curious amateurs decided to do a little exploring of their own and began digging into The Mound with gusto through two shafts, one horizontal and one vertical. Their discoveries were surprising, but they had little idea of how much historic information they had really pulled from the ground. A burial vault made of logs and smooth stones from the river was found in the center near ground level. It contained two skeletons with tools, beads, pipes and ornaments indicating these were important people in their culture.

A most amazing skeleton, which they named Tasach for reasons to be given later, appeared at the bottom layer of the earthen mound.  The items found either on his body or with his body were quite astonishing. Around its 7’2″ frame were pieces of sea shells- some scattered and others formed into beads. On the wrist were seven copper bracelets and around the waist was a band of small mica squares. What do all of these pieces mean?

Replica of Grave Creek Tablet

Replica of Grave Creek Tablet

To add to the mystery, near the second, smaller skeleton was a small, flat sandstone tablet with three lines of symbols indicating a form of communication during that long ago time. This has become known as the Grave Creek Tablet and one of many interpretations, but the one that seems likely in my mind reads:

“The mound raised on high for Tasach. This tile his queen caused to be made.”

My first thought was that perhaps Tasach was a leader of an ancient tribe.  Since copper and mica both resonate with healing qualities, perhaps he was considered a shaman. He may have appeared at the octagon shaped structure and greeted visitors, who came by boat on the Ohio River then walked the Sacred Way through the Mound and to the octagon.  It would seem this was perhaps a spiritual ceremony of some nature by people over 2000 years ago.  Remarkable! But that was just my interpretation. Wonder what ideas you might have?

Shortly after that early  excavation, in 1843 local enthusiasts decided to use the two excavation shafts into The Mound as a museum. In the horizontal bricked shaft was an underground exhibit of the skeleton discovered with his buried treasures as well as an early gift shop. Inside the vertical shaft, a spiral staircase was built to allow visitors a way to the top of the mound where a three-story observatory was constructed. The museum was short-lived as the walls came tumbling inward, but a second stone museum was built on the south side of the mound in 1941 with many of the items available for sale having been made by the prisoners at the penitentiary across the street.

Replica of Pre-Indian skull found in 1838 excavation

Replica of Pre-Indian skull found in 1838 excavation

Today’s modern museum is housed in the Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex, which shares many of the mysteries of The Mound with visitors through exhibits and video presentations. It opens the mind to exploring the wonders of time before the Native American Indians. These early visitors on our lands had far reaching commerce as items were from all over the country and the world. Their architectural skills were amazing and nearly all of their structures were perfectly aligned mathematically with the sun , the moon, and the stars.

Where did these people come from?  Where did they go? The mysteries continue.

The Mound is located in Moundsville, West Virginia. Just ten miles south of Wheeling along the east bank of the beautiful Ohio River. From Wheeling, follow Route 2 into Moundsville. Turn left on 8th Street and after two blocks turn right onto Jefferson Ave. The mound is too large to miss!

Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex

Grave Creek Archeological Center in Moundsville, WV

Grave Creek Archeological Center in Moundsville, WV

It’s not what you find
It’s what you find out.
~David Hurst Thomas

That sign was the first thing that caught my eye as I entered the Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia.  Those words put the mind in a state of exploration – the goal of this facility. While the focal point of this entire complex is the large earthen Grave Creek Mound beside the parking lot, today the visit will be inside the complex.

Curators at work in the research facility

Curators at work in the research facility

Close to the entrance into the building is a large glass wall so visitors can view recent finds being researched and recorded by curators in West Virginia Archeological Research Facility, which is a recently added wing in 2008. This is where artifacts, from various archeological digs all over the state, are processed, studied and recorded.

One portion of the complex, Delf Norona Museum, displays information regarding the lives of prehistoric people and the structure of The Mound inself.  This complex is indeed complex, as it holds not only information regarding the Grave Creek Mound, but also touches on rotating displays of many local cultural and historic exhibits entitled: West Virginia’s Gift to The World.  They have given themselves space to grow as exhibits are not in the least bit crowded, making viewing a pleasure.  Throughout the year, lectures and films in their 135 seat theater are held to inform the public on Native Americans and Ancient Americans.

Ron Hinkle's display of blownglass creations

Ron Hinkle’s display of blownglass creations

Ron Hinkle’s Blown Glass immediately caught my eye since my father was also a glassblower. Ron’s wall-size blown glass display sparkles with a bit of magic as every piece is unique. Since opening his own company in 1994, Ron hopes to keep the spirit and art of glassblowing alive and well in the area.

Fashion Dolls of Pete Ballard

Fashion Dolls by Pete Ballard

Ladies Fashion Dolls of the Nineteenth Century by Pete Ballard catches the eye of most ladies as they enter the front door.  This collection shows the changes in ladies’ fashions from 1770 to 1930 in a large display where each of the fifty-six dolls has a brass plate with its name, year, and number for easy cross reference to a booklet which can be picked up just inside the room. The oldest doll, Elizabeth, was from the style of 1800, being dressed in a green and red wool pattern.

Marble King's creative design with marbles

Marble King’s creative design with marbles

The Marble King actually received its name from a gentleman named Berry Pink. While working for Peltier Glass, Berry traveled across the country hosting marble tournaments and giving away marbles at each stop. Reminds me of Johnny Appleseed ! When Peltier Glass could no longer keep up with the demand, Berry and a partner formed a company and named it after Berry’s nickname, The Marble King. Not only do children still enjoy playing marbles either in the traditional way or with games, but many artistic designs have also been created using their beautiful colors. Marbles are thought to be the first competitive sport as far back as the Greek and Roman Empires.

Display of Homer Laughlin China Company's popular items

Display of Homer Laughlin China Company’s popular items

Homer Laughlin China Company has provided many families with quality chinaware for nearly 150 years. Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin started their company way back in 1871 in East Liverpool, Ohio. In 1902, Homer moved the kilns to Newell, WV just across the Ohio River using the new suspension bridge and trolleyline as a means to bring his trained potters across to West Virginia. Here they constructed the largest pottery plant ever built in the world. This fine pottery is a highly collectible item in the area, but many families still use it for special occassions. This large display will bring back memories for many of the viewers.

The remainder of this museum deals with the history of the basic reason for this entire complex – Grave Creek Mound – just outside the building. This large mound measuring 62′ high with a 240′ base diameter, is the largest conical earthen mound in the New World.  The secrets of this mound will require another tale. So stay tuned…for the rest of the story.

Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia is located on the east bank of the Ohio River. Traveling on the West Virginia side of the river, follow Route 2 into Moundsville.  Turn left on 8th Street and after two blocks turn right onto Jefferson Ave. You can’t miss The Mound! Admission is free and the complex is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9am – 5pm.

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