WVU hosts visiting researcher to discuss Ohio Valley archaeology discoveries January 31st, 2014
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. The West Virginia University Geography Colloquium Series in partnership with the Native American Studies Program and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology will present: “Ohio Valley Native American Earthwork Sites and New Discoveries through Remote Sensing” by Jarrod Burks, Ph.D., Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc. on Friday, Feb. 7, at 3 p.m. in Room 325 of Brooks Hall.
The Ohio Valley is renowned for its Native American earthwork sites, which were built between about 300 B.C. and A.D. 400. These sites consist of earthen enclosures in the shapes of circles, squares, octagons, and other forms that enclose spaces ranging from 50 to 1,300 feet across.
“Mound building cultures left their mark on the land throughout this half of the country,” said Bonnie Brown, Native American Studies Program Coordinator at West Virginia University. “Dr. Burks will address the concentration of earthworks that have survived in the nearby Ohio Valley. These are some of the most impressive sites in the world and include effigy mounds and a lunar observatory.”
The biggest sites had miles of earthen embankments and enormous mounds, such as Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville. Researchers believe these earthwork sites were the ceremonial centers for communities of people who lived in the surrounding areas.
“My presentation will address earthwork sites and how they’ve been studied in the past, then explore some new and exciting findings from a selection of sites where remote sensing instruments have detected a wide range of features, from large pits filled with bright orange burned dirt to the remnants of large wooden post circles, to previously unmapped earthwork complexes,” Burks said.
Burks is a professional archaeologist who works for a private archaeology firm in Columbus, Ohio. He received his Ph.D. and Master of Arts in anthropology from Ohio State University and his Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“Dr. Burks unique presentation on the use of non-invasive techniques is appropriate and timely for geographers conducting or collaborating on research that involves culturally sensitive and/or historical landscapes,” said Deborah Kirk, Ph.D. student and member of the Geography Colloquium Committee.
One of his great passions is re-locating ancient earthwork sites through geophysical survey. To that end, he has surveyed several dozen of these earthwork sites in Ohio, making numerous unique discoveries, including finding previously undocumented sites.
He is a trustee of the Ohio Archaeological Council, a nonprofit organization of professional and avocational archaeologists, the President and a founder of the Heartland Earthworks Conservancy, and the Treasurer-Elect of the Midwest Archaeological Conference.
“American Antiquity” recently published his article “Beyond Squier and Davis: Rediscovering Ohio’s Earthworks Using Geophysical Remote Sensing.” He has also published “Recording Earthworks in Ohio-Historic Aerial Photography, Old Maps and Magnetic Survey,” as well as “In Landscapes through the Lens: Aerial Photographs and the Historic Environment.”