Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village in Avella, the oldest site of human habitation in North America, will kick off its 2013 season at noon Saturday.
Meadowcroft, part of the Senator John Heinz History Center’s museum system, was recently named one of the “Five Great Places to See Evidence of First Americans” by Smithsonian magazine. The site has become an international destination, welcoming nearly 15,000 visitors from 30 states and 12 countries last year.
The National Historic Landmark features a 16,000-year-old rock overhang used by the region’s earliest inhabitants for shelter. Visitors also will have the opportunity to experience what everyday life was like for Upper Ohio Valley inhabitants more than 400 years ago.
The 16th-century Eastern Woodland Indian Village features a wigwam, and visitors can pound corn into meal, or try their hand at throwing the atlatl, a spear thrower used by prehistoric hunters.
Two new 1770s era structures help to spotlight the similarities and differences between the everyday lives of European settlers and American Indians in the Upper Ohio Valley. An open-sided log shelter represents the initial home and trading post of European settlers, and a log cabin shows how late 18th-century American Indian families adopted European building techniques.
A variety of special events highlights the 2013 schedule. They include:
• Atlatl Competition, June 15 – This contest, which is sanctioned by the World Atlatl Association, is open to all ages and is free with Meadowcroft admission.
• Independence Day celebration, July 4 – There will be old-fashioned summer games, open hearth cooking demonstrations and a pie-eating contest.
• Insider Tours of Meadowcroft Rockshelter – On select dates throughout the season, visitors can enjoy exclusive insider tours with Dr. James M. Adovasio, who achieved international acclaim with his archeological excavation of the rockshelter in 1973. Adovasio will present a lecture and lead a special tour on the site July 6, Sept. 14, Oct. 12 and Nov. 9 For reservations, contact Frances Skariot at 724-587-3412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• American Indian Heritage Weekend, Sept. 28-29 – Native artisans dressed like their ancestors will demonstrate skills of everyday life. Throughout May, Meadowcroft is open from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m Sundays. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults, $11 for senior citizens and $6 for children 6 to 17 years old. Children younger than 6 and History Center members receive free admission.
For more information on Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org and click on the Meadowcroft tab, or call 724-587-3412.