Upcoming Meetings

(scroll down to view past meeting topics)

May 1, 2024

The Analysis of Bone Tools Recovered from the Crab Orchard Site (44TZ0001), Tazewell County, Virginia:  A Late Woodland Village on the Frontier

Dr. Michael B. Barber, Longwood University Institute of Archaeology

The Crab Orchard bone tool assemblage is similar to other Late Woodland villages in southwestern Virginia. Dominated by bone awls, beamers, and antler tools, the assemblage mirrors the recovered tools from Trigg, Shannon, Hall, Graham-White, Sawyer, RAAP #2, and Stroubles Creek. The major anomaly is the barrel bead fashioned from deer metapodials which are common on Fort Ancient sites to the west. Holland (1970) described the cultures of southwestern Virginia as a crossroads of numerous regional influences. Within a holistic view of various elements of culture, the Crab Orchard site is evaluated as an indigenous site with many borrowed traits from Fort Ancient and east Tennessee producing a unique cultural amalgam on the Virginia frontier.

Regular meetings: We normally meet on the first Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. in Arey Hall, at the Bridgewater Municipal Building, which is located at 201 Green Street, Bridgewater. The evening consists of a speaker or other program of interest followed by a short business meeting.

Meetings are free and open to the public.


View a map here. To get to Arey Hall, take exit 240 off Interstate 81.  Take route 257 west into Bridgewater.  Turn right at stoplight onto Main Street (route 42 north).  Take next (immediate) left onto Green Street.  Go one block and turn right onto North Grove Street.  Turn left into parking lot.  Arey Hall is the bottom level of the three-story brick building.

We hope to see you there!


Massanutten Chapter meeting programs

April 3, 2024

“The Resilience of Virginia’s First Peoples: Today’s Tribes and Nations Moving Forward”

Carole Nash, PhD, RPA
James Madison University, School of Integrated Sciences

March 6, 2024

“44AU0719, The Mt. Sidney Pottery c.1825-1884”

Cindy Schroer, MCASV

An archival journey documenting the Mt. Sidney Pottery and looking at the lives of the men who identified themselves as potters.

February 7, 2024

“Reclaiming the Story: Insights from the Written and Oral Histories of the Valley’s Indigenous Communities”
Carole Nash, PhD, RPA
James Madison University, School of Integrated Sciences

Bringing together archaeology, written history, and oral history traditions, this presentation opens a discussion of the First Peoples of the Valley from the 17th-20th centuries.

January 3, 2024

Wood-Fired: Impacts of Wildfire on Archaeological Sites in the Virginia Uplands
Speaker: Carole Nash, PhD, RPA, James Madison University
The increased frequency of wildfires in our region requires us to re-think our approaches to protecting cultural heritage. Fueled by severe drought, 25,000 acres burned in ground and crown fires in the Virginia uplands during the 2023 fall fire season. Documented and undocumented archaeological sites were impacted. This presentation looks at the way in which wildfire damages archaeological sites and artifacts, how wildfire changes archaeological research, and how we can better assess vulnerable areas.

November 1, 2023

Archaeological Perspectives and Recent Research from Monticello
Crystal O’Connor, Field Research Manager at Monticello

Crystal joined us virtually and provided an overview of Monticello’s archaeological history, research goals, and contributions to how the site is interpreted. We learned about current research at Site 30, a domestic site occupied by enslaved field laborers in the last quarter of the 18th century. She shared how archaeological field and lab work are contributing to our understanding of how the daily lives of the enslaved community at Monticello were affected by Jefferson’s plantation management strategies and larger historical forces at work. This talk summarized early research questions after two seasons of fieldwork.

October 4, 2023
Archeology in the Alleghenies: Re-thinking the Gathright Dam Project
Dr. Carole Nash, School of Integrated Sciences, James Madison University

Abstract: Over 40 years ago, James Madison University faculty and students trekked into Bath County and set up a camp that supported large-scale archaeological survey and excavation in the Jackson River Valley.  This work was done in tandem with the construction of the Gathright Dam and creation of Lake Moomaw by the Army Corps of Engineers, which triggered federal cultural resources review.  Over 400 archaeological sites were recorded prior to the flooding of the Jackson River, including hunter-gather campsites, Indigenous agricultural villages, 18th century log cabins, and 19th century mill sites and homesteads.  This presentation both reviews the findings and suggests new ways of thinking about them, based on changes in archaeological practice and the larger knowledge base that has developed since the early 1980s.

 September 6, 2023

Cataloging the History of Logboat Development in the Mid-Atlantic 
Bob Hayes, Maritime Chapter, ASV
Log-built boats are a significant part of the rich maritime history of the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries, and the natural inland waterways of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. The Maritime Heritage Chapter of the Archeological Society of Virginia has embarked on an ambitious project to create a registry of the single-log dugout canoes and multi-log hulled boats of the Mid-Atlantic region. The goal of the registry is to provide a searchable database of historical information and technical data (i.e., dimensional measurements, wood type, construction/preservation methods, etc.) to allow for comparative studies on how these vessels evolved over time.  To date, over 160 logboats have been catalogued.

June 7, 2023

The Kittiwan Button Collection

The May meeting of the Massanutten Chapter took place on Wednesday, June 7, at 7 p.m., at Mountain Valley Archaeology, 755 South Main Street, Mount Crawford.

The Program was given by Janice Biller, Kay Veith, Cindy Schroer and Carole Nash of the Massanutten Chapter. The program, “The Kittiewan Button Collection,” focused on the recent work to catalog the collection and the lessons we learned along the way.

May 3, 2023

Speaker: Morgan McKinney

Topic:  “What Remains: An Archaeological and Documentary Analysis of a Displaced Hazel Mountain Community, Shenandoah National Park.”

The May meeting of the Massanutten Chapter was held on Wednesday, May 3, 7 p.m., at Mountain Valley Archaeology, 755 South Main Street (Route 11), Mount Crawford. The program was presented by JMU Anthropology and Geography student Morgan McKinney on her research project: “What Remains: An Archaeological and Documentary Analysis of a Displaced Hazel Mountain Community, Shenandoah National Park.”

Prior to displacement for the creation of the Shenandoah National Park, the people who settled on the eastern side of Hazel Mountain were close-knit, self-sufficient families portrayed negatively by media stereotypes. Archaeological survey and documentary research on three families and homesteads confirms media misrepresentation. Documentary research established a pre-displacement familial connectedness of at least a century to the geographic area within 10 miles of Hazel Mountain. Fieldwork recovered evidence of period technology and foundations of sizeable structures; however, archaeological survey methods proved limited in their ability to identify cultural features described in the records, as the full complement of agricultural and landscape features is nearly invisible today, after only eighty years. Archaeologists researching the Shenandoah displacement must commit to excavation and intensive historical research to understand what remains of these sites.

April 5, 2023

Speaker: Bob Jolley, Regional Archaeologist with the Northern Regional Preservatin Office, Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Topic: An Overview of the NRPO-DHR Archaeological Survey Program

When DHR established regional preservation offices in the 1990s, one of the primary missions was to promote and conduct cultural resource surveys. Proactive survey increases the chance that a site may be protected and if the site is destroyed, the survey record may be the only information obtained for the site. This presentation emphasizes the importance of survey as a management tool for local governments, property owners and cultural resource managers. NRPO survey strategy has focused on 1) sites of importance to the community, 2) threatened sites 3) archaeologically underrepresented areas, 4) site stewardship surveys and 5) surveys that support National Register listings. Thus far, over 1350 sites have been surveyed by employing these strategies.

March 1, 2023

Speaker: Brendan Burke, Virginia State Underwater Archaeologist

Topic: “Virginia’s Underwater Archaeology: Submerged History Throughout the Commonwealth.”

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources Underwater Archaeology Program is tasked with the protection and inventory of submerged archaeological sites throughout all of the state-owned bottomlands. The program also frequently assists citizens of the Commonwealth with heritage management regarding maritime artifacts and sites. This presentation will cover the program’s activities and duties throughout the state, from Assateague to the Alleghenies.

February 4, 2023

Resilient Ancestors along the Nottoway River: The Millie Woodson Turner Site

Presentation by Laura Galke, Chief Curator, Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Centuries of indigenous stewardship characterize the Millie Woodson-Turner Nottoway reservation allotment and home site. William & Mary’s American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) conducted archaeological investigations at the site in consultation with the landowner, and partnering with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR), and with participation from the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia. Archaeological investigations demonstrate how the Nottoway managed opportunities and stress in a society in which their legal status, identity and way of life was defined as aberrant by non-indigenous authorities. Laboratory analysis revealed three distinct domestic occupations: one from c. 1660-1759, one dating from about 1774 to the 1810s, and a sustained habitation from the 1870s to c. 1950. These families left material clues reflecting not only the social and political history they experienced, but the improvisations that sustained their families and environmental stewardship throughout their occupation. This site enriches our appreciation of people that have historically been silenced.

January 4, 2022

Topic: Significant Archaeological Discoveries of 2022

Speaker: Dr. Carole Nash, JMU

The presentation focused on work from around the globe that is expanding our understanding of past cultures.

November 2, 2022

Topic: Archaeological Laws and Ethics

Speaker: Dr. Carole Nash, JMU

July 6, 2022

Learning from Artifact Collections: Stories from Artifacts
We looked at artifact collections from the South River/Shenandoah South Fork to better understand the cultures of the First Peoples who made them. Discussion focused on identifying rock types as indicatiors of the origin of the artifacts, spearpoint/arrowhead styles as indicators of the age of the artifacts, and cultural connections between Valley communities of the past.

June 1, 2022

Speaker: Dr. Carole Nash, James Madison University
Spearpoints and Arrowheads: Technology and Time in the Study of Native American Artifacts

May 4, 2022

Speaker: Dr. Scott Suter, Professor, English and American Studies, Bridgewater College
The Importance of Making Progress: Interpreting Emanuel Suter’s Work

April 6, 2022

Speaker: Dr. Carole Nash, James Madison University
“The Valleys feed numerous herds of Deer and Elks larger then Oxen”
The Pre-colonial Interior-Coastal Deerskin Trade

March 2, 2022

Speaker: Dr. Carole Nash, James Madison University
Topic: 19th Century Harrisonburg: The View from the Hardesty-Higgins House
Carole reviewed the history of this downtown landmark and the dig there that involved several ASV members and JMU students.

February 12, 2022

Field trip to Morris Pottery Kiln with guest expert: Christopher Espenshade

We marked another milestone in our long relationship with the Morris Pottery Kiln (site 44RM0430), one of the only remaining kilns from the 19th century Valley stoneware tradition. Located in western Rockingham County near Lilly, the site is owned by the Archeological Society of Virginia, and our chapter has been its caretaker for almost 40 years.

Archaeologist and pottery/kiln specialist Christopher Espenshade, visited the kiln with us to assess its condition and make recommendations for its study and conservation.

His visit was funded by a grant from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources’ Threatened Sites Fund, and State Archaeologist Elizabeth Moore also joined us for the day.

January 12, 2022

Speaker: Dr. Carole Nash, JMU School of Integrated Sciences

TOPIC: Climate Change Impacts to Mountain Heritage Resources: Case Studies from the Virginia Blue Ridge

November 4, 2021

We encouraged our members to attend a Rocktown History event:

“Old House, New History” with Dr. Carole Nash from JMU

In recent years, evidence from archaeological investigation changed the story of what has been known for decades as the Thomas Harrison House.  How do we discover more of the building’s origin story? How do the associated buildings add to that narrative? What is the vision for this downtown landmark?  Dr. Carole Nash, whose research team uncovered the surprising evidence, will discuss the house, the work, and what it means for the community.  Join the conversation, either in-person (limited ticketed seating) or via Zoom webinar.

Sept 1, 2021

Back to the Dry River: Evaluating the Morris Pottery Kiln

Description:  Since the mid-1980s, the Massanutten Chapter of the ASV has been the caretaker of the only known standing kiln from the Valley’s 19th century folk pottery industry, the Morris Pottery Kiln on the Dry River in western Rockingham County.  This site, 44RM0430, has been a focus of chapter activities, including survey, excavation, laboratory analysis, archival research, site maintenance, and fundraising to build a protective shelter.  Despite our best efforts, the structure has experienced wind erosion, destabilizing the protective layer of cobbles that have been thrown up on the structure for a century.
Also, an early exploration (non-ASV) that removed a portion of kiln has resulted in sagging and cracking. This fall, with funding from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources Threatened Sites program, we are initiating an evaluation of the kiln by Christopher Espenshade, New South Associates, who is an expert in kiln archaeology.  He will assess its condition, identify significant, intact portions, and develop a stabilization plan.  This presentation reviews what we know about the kiln, what we hope to learn from the upcoming study, and why sites like the Morris Pottery Kiln are important.

August 4, 2021 

Speaker: Dr. Carole Nash, Associate Professor, School of Integrated Sciences, JMU

Title: Indigenous Map Making: Lessons for Archaeologists

Description: Known historical maps created by Indigenous peoples are rare.  In part, this is due to the lack of preservation of the materials on which maps were made: animal hides, wood, bark, woven mats.  More significant is the fact that non-Indigenous colonial powers did not recognize Indigenous maps as authoritative and did not archive them and they would other legal documents. Yet, Indigenous oral traditions are filled with rich descriptions of places and their relationship to each other, and when coupled with surviving Indigenous maps, show regions rich with meaning.  This presentation looks at Indigenous map making and what it can teach archaeologists about reading the landscope.

June 2, 2021

Speaker: Dr. Carole Nash, Associate Professor, School of Integrated Sciences, JMU

Topic: Non-Invasive Approaches to the Study of the Western Virginia Accretional Burial Mound Tradition

Dr. Carole Nash and four JMU Geographic Science students worked on this project, which is described below:

Shenandoah Valley historian, Samuel Kercheval, wrote in 1833 of “melancholy regret” over the destruction of burial mounds by Euroamerican settlers in the Virginia uplands. Since that time, archaeologists have attempted to document the surviving portions of these sites, which are sacred features of the Monacan and Manahoac peoples. This presentation demonstrates the role of remote sensing technologies, coupled with a close reading of archaeological studies, as a method for evaluating original mound size, current condition of the sites, and setting relative to natural features. The findings support the efficacy of non-invasive approaches for collaborative projects on ancestral spaces.

May 5, 2021

Speaker: Laura J. Galke, Chief Curator, Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Plastered and Sealed: Wine Consumption and Bottle Seals among Virginia’s Gentry

Identity was created and performed through sociable drinking, a popular license among Virginia’s ‘newly-elite’ families. Personalized wine bottle seals amplified messages of privilege in a private, home setting. Custom-made seals manifested identity, class, and gender, allowing planters a material way to demonstrate refinement, pedigree, and taste. The aspiration for individualized or family seals expanded at a time when demand for tavern-, inn-, and coffee house-seals diminished. Refined, domestic entertaining countered popular European beliefs which maintained that colonists were rustic. Hundreds of seals curated at the Department of Historic Resources inform this analysis that, together with the Culture Embossed website, provide comparative data for thoughtful analysts throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region.

April 7, 2021

Speaker: Dr. Mike Barber, Longwood Institute of Archaeology

A Preliminary Report on the Excavations at 17th Century Eyreville, Northampton County, Virginia: Hovel, House, Home

The Eyreville Site (44NH0507), in Northampton County, is located on the grounds of a bayside plantation house built in late 18th or early 19th century. The site to be tested lies within the lawn to the west of the main plantation house. The landowner, during tree stump removal, recovered numerous artifacts dating to the 17th century, which included rose head nails, bricks, blue and grey stoneware, tin-glazed ware, gin and wine bottle fragments, and numerous tobacco pipe stems. Of note were Dutch yellow bricks and elaborately decorated Dutch pipes in addition to domestic and English pipes. Documentary research points to the earliest occupation associated with John Howe in 1636/1637. The site later became the home of Col. William Kendall. During the 2017-2019 archaeological field schools, numerous subsurface features were identified including an 18th century brick foundation, a buried hearth, a well,  many oyster filled features, and a brick walkway, to name a few. Excavations will continue at pandemic’s end with an  emphasis on diachronic changes in both architecture and material culture at Eyreville, with a larger regional focus of that evolution as a backdrop.

January 13, 2021

Archeology: Science and Creativity

To kick off 2021 Dr. Carole Nash gave a virtual presentation on the topic: “Archeology: Science and Creativity.”

September 5, 2022

A Special Online Saturday evening meeting was held on September 5th.

Due to the pandemic, this was our first meeting since March.

Our program was a presentation by Dr. Carole Nash, “Native American Communities of the Shenandoah Valley: Constructing a Complex History.”  You can download a background document (PDF) Carole has prepared here.

October 7, 2020

Death of the Cemetery: An Assessment of Historic Family Plots in Augusta County, Virginia

Rachel Sites, Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia

November 4, 2020

The process of preserving memory and event:  Recognizing and protecting historic African American Cemeteries

Tom Klatka, Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources, Western Regional Office

The burial places for the enslaved and segregated communities of African Americans have been traditionally underrepresented or undocumented and in local, state and national planning documents.  This is beginning to change.  Last year, a bill introduced in Congress will help with information, technical support and grants to identify and restore African American cemeteries across the nation.  In Virginia, the documentation of both historic and more recent African-American cemeteries has increased with the recent passage of legislation enabling the disbursement of state funds for the maintenance of historic African American cemeteries.

During this presentation, we discussed the mechanics of the recent legislation in Virginia, and looked at its immediate results. The benefits are readily apparent and they continue to grow quickly, but some inherent challenges persist. Concerning the challenges, we discussed survey and documentation methodologies, and addressed the interplay of the archaeological and documentary records in attempting to answer the question, “How many people were buried in this cemetery?”.

February 5, 2020

Regular monthly meeting was held at 7:00 p.m. in Arey Hall, at the Bridgewater Municipal Building. Our program for the February meeting was presented by Dr. Carole Nash, James Madison University, entitled “Gone is Gone: Lessons from a Downtown Demolition.” This presentation provides an overview of the 1991 demolition of buildings and archaeological sites for the construction of the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Judicial Complex.  Members of the Massanutten Chapter of the ASV photographed the buildings prior to demolition and monitored their removal.

March 4, 2020

Painted, Molded, Printed, Sponged: Ceramics from Two Communities at One Site

Alison Bell and Donald Gaylord, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Washington and Lee University

In 1793, trustees of Liberty Hall Academy – the forerunner of Washington and Lee University (W&L) – built a steward’s house for student dining near the main academic structure. When the latter burned in 1803, the institution moved to its current location. The former campus became a plantation, and the steward’s house was repurposed as a quarter for enslaved people (c. 1803-1860s). W&L archaeologists excavated the site in the 1970s. This paper reports on current reanalysis of the ceramic assemblage, focused on distinguishing vessels used by the steward’s family and students before 1803 from those used by enslaved people afterwards. In addition to diagnostic decorative techniques, motifs, and palettes, the authors also consider site formation processes and possibilities of curation and re-use during the nineteenth century. This analysis addresses the hypothesis that ceramics associated with members of the enslaved population supported commensality and mutual support through exchange.