Don’t Judge a Rockshelter by Its Surface!
People digging for artifacts – arrowheads and spear points – have heavily damaged many rockshelters in eastern Kentucky, leaving sites looking like the cratered surface of the moon. These looters have destroyed thousands of years of Kentucky’s earliest history.
But not all this history has been lost! Through careful excavation of rockshelters like Grizzly Newt, researchers have discovered that archaeological remains often survive beneath the damage. Also, by studying sites with disturbed surfaces the same way sites with undisturbed surfaces are studied, investigators can salvage the information and history thrown out during looting. In this way, they can calculate just how much has been lost.
At Grizzly Newt, researchers were able to investigate buried intact deposits, and learn more about Native peoples who lived in Kentucky for thousands of years before European Americans displaced them. Despite the destruction caused by the quest for "points,” the rich history of Kentucky’s first residents often survives, and we can still learn from it.