Archaeological Complex Seeks Volunteers

Any qualified individuals interested in learning about archaeology and West Virginia history can volunteer to help the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville.

According to site Manager David E. Rotenizer, the staff at the complex needs assistance.

“We’re open six days each week,” said Rotenizer. “There are only six staff members here.”

Volunteers are needed to help greet visitors to the complex, clean and catalog artifacts, help in the new interpretive garden, provide tours of the complex and organize the facility’s library. The library was donated to the complex by the wife of the late Dr. Don W. Dragoo, who worked as chief curator of anthropology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and wrote “Mounds For the Dead,” a book about archaeology in the eastern United States and the Adena who built the Grave Creek Mound.

According to Rotenizer, the collection contains most of the best books written on the subject but is in serious need of organization.

As far as qualifications go, Rotenizer said volunteers just need an interest, and they must be able to work on a sustained basis.

“We need people who are willing to learn,” he said, adding that volunteers must be serious because training will be required.

Those interested in volunteering at the complex can contact Rotenizer for details at

The 20th annual Archaeological Weekend was held at the complex last week. Rotenizer said more than 300 people attended – a number that goes up every year.

“This is an event that you should see grow every year,” said Rotenizer. “It’s becoming more established, especially since setting the date as the first weekend of October each year.”

Until the complex was completed in 2008, Rotenizer said, there were very few resources for archeological study in West Virginia. Since its completion, though, the complex has become a sort of “headquarters” for all such activity.

“This is where projects come from all over the state,” said Rotenizer. “Before 2008, West Virginia had no home for its collections.”

Now those collections are kept in secure, climate-controlled facilities not only to organize them but to protect from the elements.

A variety of services are offered to visitors at the complex. Aside from the mound, museum and activity center, the conservation lab where much of the archaeological work is done can be viewed from an observation room. Individuals in possession of artifacts or objects they would like to have identified can make an appointment with one of the curators, who will examine them for free. The complex holds two yearly fossil identification days when experts examine fossils all day for visitors.

“This facility is something that West Virginia should be really proud of,” Rotenizer said.