Join Us in Natural Bridge for the ASV Annual Meeting!

October 26-29, 2017


Photo Natural Bridge of Virginia by Terri Aignerate October in Virginia’s Ridge and Valley is a beautiful time of year, and we hope that you will join us there at the 77th Annual Meeting of the Archeological Society of Virginia, which will be held at the Natural Bridge Historic Hotel and Conference Center ( from October 26-29, 2017.  The historic hotel will serve as our anchor for a meeting at Virginia’s newest state park and a National Historic Landmark (


The conference hotel is now fully booked for the weekend of our conference.   If you did not have the opportunity to reserve a room, we hope that you will consider these Lexington hotels, which are 15 miles north of the conference center at Natural Bridge:

Holiday Inn Express  540 463-7351

Best Western   540 458-3020

Other area hotels can be found at

The cut-off date for pre-registration and purchasing banquet tickets has passed.  Meeting registration is $25/person and you may pay this at the door if you did not pre-register.

The meeting will begin informally on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with a brainstorming session on ASV outreach and education at the K-12 level.  All are invited to attend this information gathering event, to share ideas and interests as we expand our audience.

The meeting will formally begin on Friday morning with paper sessions, followed by the Fall COVA meeting on Friday afternoon.  The COVA Education Session and Reception will be held on Friday night.

On Saturday, there will be more papers and Chapter reports in the morning, followed by the Annual ASV Business Meeting.  Lunch is followed by a field trip at the Park, led by Victoria Ferguson of the Monacan Living History Exhibit.  An $8 ticket (which you can purchase along with meeting registration) will get you a tour of Natural Bridge, a tour of the Monacan Living History Exhibit, and participation in a pottery-making workshop.  Please sign up early, as space is limited.  If you would like to wander, Rockbridge County and Lexington offer many opportunities.

Afton Mountain pass photo by Terri AignerIn addition to a fantastic meal with seasonal foods, the Saturday evening banquet will include all the celebrations to which we’re accustomed: Certification Graduation, Council of Virginia Archaeologists Awards, ASV Awards, Student Paper Awards, and President’s Awards.  Our banquet speaker this year is Darla Spencer, M.A., RPA, who will present “The Fort Ancient Culture of West Virginia.”

On Sunday morning, paper sessions continue.  The annual Certification program courses will be offered, as well.  When we finish at lunchtime, you will have had a memorable weekend deepening your appreciation for Virginia archaeology and the wonders of Natural Bridge.


Download ASV Meeting Program (PDF)

2017 Archeological Society of Virginia Banquet Lecture

The Fort Ancient Culture in West Virginia

Darla Spencer, MA, RPA

Ms. Spencer, a specialist in the Native American cultures of West Virginia, is retired from Cultural Resource Analysts and now a part-time instructor at West Virginia University.  Her recently published  book,  Early Native Americans in West Virginia: The Fort Ancient Culture (History Press, 2016), considers the Late Prehistoric and Protohistoric peoples who made the rich bottomlands of southern West Virginia their home.  Archaeological and ethnographic evidence indicates that Fort Ancient territory in West Virginia was an interface between Fort Ancient people to the west and Siouan-speaking people to the east.

Ms. Spencer is secretary and treasurer of the West Virginia Archaeological Society and a member of the Board of Directors of the Council for West Virginia Archaeology.

ASV Field Trip: Saturday, Oct. 28

Vicky Ferguson, Director of the Monacan Indian Living History Exhibit, will offer tours of the exhibit and a pottery-making workshop on Saturday afternoon.  The cut-off date for pre-registration has passed, but we can still accommodate a few more.  If you are interested, contact Carole Nash (

For those who want to investigate the area, Lexington is close by, as is the Blue Ridge Parkway.


monacan-lodge-exhibitMore than 20 years of research and thousands of hours of labor have gone into authentically reproducing the Monacan Exhibit using regional archaeology, ethno-history, primitive technology, and oral traditions from the Monacan Indian people. Garbage pit analysis helps to explain the food practices, tool production, and types of pottery. The structures are reconstructed using post mold patterns from archaeological digs. The Monacan Exhibit staff shares the knowledge and respect for the daily life ways of the Monacan people from a historical perspective. The Monacans were sedentary foragers who established their settlements along the James and Roanoke River water systems between present day Richmond and the Roanoke Valley. Most of their food came from hunting and gathering, along with gardens to supplement their daily foraging practices. The arrival of the Europeans presented many challenges to Virginia’s Indian populations. By the early to middle 1700s, trade, disease, and warfare began to take their toll.

Ceramic Technology
The ability to create pottery is a very important component of Eastern Woodland culture. The Monacans possessed the knowledge to take the earthen clay and mold it into vessels for cooking, storage, and more. The entire process, from beginning to end, can take days to complete and starts with digging the clay. Victoria Ferguson will be on hand with local clay to demonstrate the process and show some finished products.

To quote Thomas Jefferson, the first owner of the bridge, The Natural Bridge was described as, “the most sublime of nature’s creation.” It was purchased for 20 shillings in 1774 by Mr. Jefferson, who owned the bridge and the adjoining 157 acres. He maintained the property until his death in 1826 and since that time, the bridge has hosted 19 private owners.

The limestone which makes up the bridge is estimated to be at least one half billion years old. When standing underneath the Natural Bridge, one can imagine a subterranean world of caverns connected by tunnels and all subject to the changing forces of nature. An ancient river spills into a sink hole, and slowly the dynamics of erosion reduces the mineral salts to sand and washes into what is now the James River.

The last major American Indian group to occupy the Piedmont, Valley, and Ridge portions of Virginia were the Siouan speaking people who consider the Bridge as sacred.

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