September has been designated Archaeology Month in Kentucky, with activities including lectures and hands-on public excavations planned across the state. Events are being coordinated by the Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists (KyOPA), in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of Living Archaeology Weekend, Sept. 20-21, at Gladie Cultural-Environmental Learning Center in Red River Gorge.
This is the first observance of Kentucky Archaeology Month, created to celebrate the state’s rich historic and prehistoric past revealed through the professional study of archaeology. Another goal is to generate greater awareness and appreciation of what archaeology and the research of artifacts and land features have yet to tell us about early cultures and previous generations.
“Kentucky is known worldwide for some of its archaeological resources, like the Archaic shell middens of the Green River, the 5,000-year-old center of plant domestication in the Red River Gorge, and the famous Adena mound and earthwork sites of the Bluegrass region,” said Craig Potts, Kentucky Heritage Council executive director and state historic preservation officer.
“But archaeology has much more to offer,” he said. “Using little more than the remnants of daily life people left behind, archaeology has helped tell the story of Kentucky from the earliest indigenous peoples who entered the region 13,000 years ago, to a recently-discovered Civil War encampment at Ashland, the Henry Clay estate in Lexington.”
Since 1989, Living Archaeology Weekend has educated visitors about the cultural practices and skills of Native Americans and early Kentucky pioneers. Demonstrations by specialists include how to tan animal hides, weave baskets, make pottery, mill corn and throw spears with an atlatl. Pottery, flint knapping (the making of spear and weapon points), blacksmithing and cooking are also featured. Presenters will include representatives from the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma.
Hundreds of preregistered school students will take part in demonstrations on Friday, Sept. 20, and registration is closed. The public is invited to attend free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21.
Living Archaeology Weekend is presented by the U.S. Forest Service/Daniel Boone National Forest, the Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists, and the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, a partnership of the Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office and University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology.
KyOPA was founded to strengthen the identification of archaeology as a profession, encourage high standards in the training of archaeologists, support ethical behavior and responsible archaeological practice, and communicate the importance of archaeological research and the preservation of Kentucky’s cultural heritage brought about through professional practice. Visit the KyOPA website for a complete listing of Kentucky Archaeology Month activities.
All these events will lead up to the observance of International Archaeology Day Saturday, Oct. 19.