For the past several weeks, volunteers in the VMNH Archaeology Laboratory have been washing and inventorying the artifacts from 44WR5, the Rudacil site. We’ve processed about 10 boxes of artifacts so far and since the assemblage has about 50 boxes of artifacts, we’ll be washing for several months more.
The Rudacil site is part of a group of sites known as the Flint Run Paleoindian Complex. The Flint Run complex is comprised of a series of sites on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in Warren County that are located near an outcrop of jasper, a fine-grained rock that was used to make stone tools. You can see some of that jasper in the photograph. Much of it is yellowish-brown but some of it is red where it was heat-treated, or put in a fire.
Three site types were identified in the complex: quarries, workshop/reduction sites, and base camps. Quarries were locations where the rock material was removed from the source to be used elsewhere. Workshop/reduction sites were located a short distance from the rock source. At the workshops, the rock material would be broken down into smaller pieces that could be carried elsewhere to be made into tools. The base camps were the places where groups of people camped while they were in the area procuring jasper.
Archaeologists refer to the time period that this site was occupied as the Paleoindian Period. These were the first people living in North America and were mobile hunters and gatherers. They moved throughout a broad geographic area to find all of the resources they needed to survive, from herds of animals to hunt for food to preferred rock material to make into sharp stone tools like spear points.
The Rudacil site, along with other sites in the Flint Run Paleoindian Complex, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If you would like to read more about this time period, the Flint Run Paleoindian Complex, and life at the end of the last ice age, visit the website The Earliest Americans produced by the National Park Service.