Senator John Heinz History Center

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Meadowcroft Rockshelter archaeological site has revealed the earliest evidence of people in North America, dating back 16,000 years. 

The Rockshelter, named a National Historic Landmark in 2005, has provided archaeologists with a rare glimpse into the lives of the first people to arrive in the New World.

The first prehistoric artifacts were discovered in a groundhog burrow at the site in 1955 by property owner and museum founder, Albert Miller. In 1973, the first professional excavation of the Rockshelter was conducted by the Cultural Resource Management Program (CRMP) of the University of Pittsburgh and directed by J. M. Adovasio. Subsequent University of Pittsburgh field school excavations took place from 1973-1989. More recent research and excavation has been directed by J. M. Adovasio through the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute (MAI). The excavation protocols used at Meadowcroft are still considered state-of-the-art and the site is widely regarded as one of the most carefully excavated sites in North America.

With recent renovations to the Rockshelter's enclosure, visitors can see evidence of tools and campfires made by these first Americans thousands of years ago.

Discover how these ancient people survived - from what they ate to the weapons they relied on everyday - and try your hand at using an atlatl, a prehistoric spear-thrower like those used by Meadowcroft's first inhabitants.

The Rockshelter is also recognized as a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Treasure and is an official project of Save America's Treasures.

 Meadowcroft recently created two “Peopling of America” kiosks featuring a series of seven high-definition videos which show the major factors that affected population growth in America. One kiosk is on display at the Pittsburgh International Airport, while the other is located at the Meadowcroft Visitors Center.

Visitors will also enjoy a new and improved Visitors Center at Meadowcroft which includes a new admissions area and museum shop, along with new public restrooms and a newly paved roadway. The improvements to the Visitors Center were made possible by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Washington County Local Share Account, and various private funders

To schedule group reservations or interpreter-led tours of the Meadowcroft Rockshelter, please contact Fran Skariot at 724-587-3412 or