Meet The Scientists
The Archaeological Sites
Meadowcroft Rockshelter archaeological site has revealed the earliest evidence of people in North America. The Rockshelter, named a National Historic Landmark in 2005, has provided archaeologists with a rare glimpse into the lives of the first people to arrive in the New World. Renovations to the rock shelter’s enclosure are now complete, and visitors can see evidence of tools and campfires made by these first Americans thousands of years ago.
Discover how these ancient people survived – from what they ate to the weapons they relied on every day. Visitors can tried their hand at using an atlatl, a prehistoric spear thrower like those used by Meadowcroft’s first inhabitants.
In 1998, archaeologists from the Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina, while excavating a prehistoric site on the Savannah River in Allendale County, S.C., discovered stone implements far deeper in the ground than they had ever encountered before. Subsequent excavations and studies have revealed that ancient humans were present 16,000 or more years ago, some 2,000 to 3,000 years earlier than previously allowed by textbooks. Know as the Topper site, it appears to be one of the several sites in the eastern U.S producing evidence that human were living in the Western Hemisphere during the last Ice Age.
"They Were Here: Ice Age Humans in South Carolina." – This South Carolina Educational TV documentary covers the careful study and analysis of artifacts, let by Dr. Albert C. Goodyear, leading to evidence of early humans that dates back 15,000-20,000 years ago.
The Cactus Hill Archaeological Site is located on a wind-deposited (eolian) terrace of the Nottoway River in Sussex County. The site gets its name from the prickly pear cacti commonly found growing on the site's sandy soil. Cactus Hill is one of the oldest and most well-dated archaeological sites in the Americas, with the earliest human occupations dating to between 18,000 and 20,000 years ago. It also contains one of the most complete stratified prehistoric archaeological sequences yet discovered in Virginia. Prior to the discoveries at Cactus Hill, which were made in the mid-1990s, most scholars believed that the earliest humans arrived in the Americas approximately 13,000 years ago.