Native Folks and Settlers
Before there was The Blue Ridge, there was land above it shadowed by mounains to the west equivalent to the height of of those of the Himalayas, over 5 miles high. They eroded over millions of years and became the Virginia piedmont. The granitic and hard rock of the Blue Ridge persisted. Some 11, 000 years ago, a brief period in geologic time, a glacier covered the land north of the Explore Park site and Virginia, all of the way down into southern Pennsylvania. Cold winds blew from there and waters flowing from them were very cold, year around. The land near it was in the ecological realm now recognized as the northern forests with northern furbearers and birds, ruffed grouse, aspen and conifer trees and bogs. Native folks, some from the south, probed northward in western US areas but most sign are from human visitors, invaders, who came across the glaciers from the region of Alaska, all across the continent and appeared in what is now Virginia ...about 10,000 years ago.
There are no written records but findings of artifacts and knowledge of ecological conditions lead to a consistent set of conclusions for later study and confirmation or ...of course, rejection or modification as new evidence or theory emerges.
Diamond and Giles wrote of early ecological conditions :
Diamond, S. J. and R. H. Giles, Jr. 1987. A vegetational history of Virginia's Ridge and Valley province. Quart. Bul. Arch. Soc. of Virginia. 42(4):177-187.
and Diamond (now deceased) did a MS thesis on the life of native people before settlement:
Diamond, S. J. 1989. Vegetation, wildlife, and human foraging in prehistoric Western Virginia. Unpub. M. S. Thesis, Va. Poly. Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, Va. 239 pp.
These were migrants and hunter-gatherers. Giles found in an area near Salem artifacts suggesting different societies living in the same area, culturally quite different with 2000-year differences (determined by radiocarbon dating of similar artifacts faound elsewhere).
|Different shapes and sizes suggest different techniques and abilities of people used to create them. These shapes and patterns can be identified and dated. At one Salem site, there is evidence of human occupation of over 10, 000 years.|
This Group of Rural System works with collectors, develops a display of artifacts as local as possible and presents the information about human life and living in the environemnt of the distant past ... 10,000 years ago to settlement time, about 15,00. Presentations include those for conditions then, life then, energy relations, old trails, and Diamonds work on wildlife, Chestnuts, clothing, and life then.
Agriculture changed conditions for early migrant people, the hunters and gatherers, and its development along with the prehistoric fishery needs to be presented... with all benefits and difficulties and comparisons with the past.
The people at the time of white settlement may be presented, up to about 1600.
The site avoids the outlandish development of modern-Native-people dance costume and clothing, settlement conflicts, and slavery, and continuing native people conflists, all abundantly convered in other museums and historic sites.
Some activities of early settlers' lives are interestingly presented and fit with the development of modern society just before the industrial revolution.
March 30, 2005