JMU in the Community

Unearthing the past

Archaeology students conduct field research in Shenandoah National Park


James Madison University archaeology students and alumni are searching for evidence of Native American artifacts in Shenandoah National Park before the National Park Service can construct a parking lot at the base of Old Rag Mountain.

JMU has had a memorandum of understanding with SNP since 1999. Carole Nash, professor of integrated science and technology and director of the SNP Environmental Archaeology Program, and her students are called in to conduct archaeological research prior to any ground disturbance within the park.

"We're mapping in these old Native American hearths, going through and finding evidence of stone tool-making," said Thomas McGowan (’16), field director and geographic information systems specialist.

Nash said the stone tools they have found at the site, a popular hiking destination within the park, are "everything from beautifully made spear points all the way down to the debris from them removing flakes off of cores of rocks so they can start the tool-making process."

Nash and the students analyze their findings in an effort to figure out what happened there and to have information on the site once the paving takes place.

"It's one of those wonderful opportunities where the university gets to interface with an agency and really build long-term connections," she said.

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Published: Thursday, September 20, 2018

Last Updated: Monday, May 24, 2021

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