Mercyhurst College’s Adovasio generates national attention

The revolutionary archaeological work of James Adovasio, Ph.D., director of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute at Mercyhurst College, is at the forefront of two publications and a television production this summer. In addition, Adovasio has been tapped for a leading lectureship that will take him on a cross-country tour in 2007-08, delivering current news in the field of archaeology.

The just-released summer 2006 issue of Western Pennsylvania History is dedicated exclusively to the Meadowcroft Rockshelter, the site 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh that Adovasio excavated in the 1970s. Widely regarded as one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world, Meadowcroft is recognized as the earliest well-dated archaeological site in the Western Hemisphere, with evidence of human habitation dating to 16,000 years ago.

The magazine’s cover depicts a scene from Meadowcroft and the contents include a collection of feature stories by various authors about the rockshelter, spanning the history of the property to its selection in 2005 as a National Historic Landmark. Adovasio is the author of a first-person account of how he became connected to Meadowcroft called “The Great Journey: A Personal Odyssey.” 

Meanwhile, Adovasio and his associates authored three of four major articles in the current volume of the journal, North American Archaeologist. The articles focus on Adovasio’s work with the perishable artifacts of prehistoric basketry, textiles, netting and cordage. Adovasio also wrote the journal’s “Introduction.” 

In June, a film crew from the United Kingdom was on the Mercyhurst campus to interview Adovasio and film a large segment of an upcoming documentary tentatively titled “The Search for the First Americans,” slated to air in October on The National Geographic Channel. The crew also acquired footage of Adovasio at Meadowcroft. The documentary will explore ways through which technology has allowed scientists to uncover how people lived thousands of years ago, and Meadowcroft is a key player toward that depiction. 

Lastly, the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) selected Adovasio, from among several hundred distinguished archaeologists nominated, as the Martha Sharp Joukowsky Lecturer for the 2007-08 academic year. As part of the yearlong commitment, Adovasio will visit 14 local chapters of the AIA, which are based primarily in academic departments of colleges and universities and at museums in 39 states as well as Canada and Greece.

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