MEADOWCROFT ROCK SHELTER PENNSYLVANIA
Yes, that’s right, I disappeared again on vacation. And I didn’t think about mental health, recovery, doing psychotherapy, and only thought about a few of my clients a little bit. I read a book about archaeology in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain, saw the oldest known continuously inhabited spot in North America (Meadowcroft), and generally relaxed.
the Meadowcroft thing was very interesting. There was a man, a Mr. Albert Miller, who had been very interested in archeology in his youth, but didn’t become one professionally. On his family’s property there was a rock shelter next to a creek which looked like the perfect place to camp. In fact, locals were in the habit of going there to party on weekends. But Mr. Miller didn’t talk to anyone about his hunch that it was a site because he didn’t want artifact hunters to destroy the site. Finally one day he saw a gopher hole in the ground below the sandstone overhang of the shelter and he couldn’t help himself– he fished around and found some stone arrowheads. Then he went on a quest to find an archeologist who would excavate the site. He found a young PhD, James M. Adovasio of the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Adovasio began his excavation with a campfire that had probably been built the week before he got there. He dug down from aluminum beer cans to steel beer cans to glass gin bottles from colonial times. He kept on going, using state of the art methods, until reaching artifacts that were dated at 16,000 years old.
This was extremely controversial at the time, and there’s a story about this– for fifty years, people in the field had accepted that artifacts found in Clovis, New Mexico, roughly 12,000 years old, were the oldest evidence of humans in the New World. Set in t heir ways, and having academic careers resting on this assumption, they resisted the evidence.
Such is human nature. But the part about human nature that I think is interesting is that everyone who saw that spot for a sixteen thousand year period thought it was a good place to camp. this ranged from Neolithic people whose comfort and even survival depended on a good camp site ranging up to people who had modern houses to go to (the dig started in the latter part of the 20th Century). So the way we humans relate to the landscape around us hasn’t changed in at least that much time. I think that’s kinda cool.