Discover Archeology

If you’ve ever found arrowheads or poked around in the ruins of an old log cabin, chances are you’ve realized there’s an unknown or forgotten history in your area. From such clues as spearpoints or stone house foundations, an archaeologist can learn much about the people who lived or worked on that spot — when they lived, what their communities were like, how they interacted with their neighbors, and how their lives changed over time.

If you suspect that you may have found an archaeological site, there are several steps you can take:

  • Leave the artifacts and features in place. Much critical information can be lost when artifacts are collected because even this disturbs a site, creating more holes in the puzzle of the past. No one can be expected to remember where he or she found every last artifact, so learning to properly document sites is a very important task.
  • Try to determine the name of the property owner. If that’s not possible, get the address.
  • Contact the Massanutten Chapter of the Archeological Society of Virginia for assistance: Dr. Carole Nash at or Cynthia Schroer at Chapter members are trained to document archaeological sites. They will work with you to contact the property owner, as we never go on private property without permission. Once permission is secured, members will document the site and artifacts found there. The artifacts belong to the property owner.
  • Continue to attend trainings and volunteer opportunities to hone your skills for identifying and recording archaeological sites.
  • Know that your information will be part of scientifically-guided archaeology and adds to our understanding of the past.

There is a great deal we do not know about the past people who traveled, hunted, farmed, and otherwise made a living in the Shenandoah Valley. Remember: artifacts alone can tell us very little. We need to place the artifacts in a specific location to understand more of the story.