FRANKFORT, Ky. – A customized tour of Mammoth Cave and an opportunity to visit the newly upgraded visitor center will be highlights of the 29th Annual Kentucky Heritage Council Archaeology Conference convening this weekend at Mammoth Cave National Park. The conference is co-sponsored by the Western Kentucky University Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology, the WKU Office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists.
The conference is the primary opportunity for professional archaeologists working in Kentucky to share research, project updates and important findings from their investigation of historic and prehistoric archaeological sites across the state. Paper and poster presentations will cover a wide range of topics, including:
• Archaic occupation of a well-known Mississippian site.
• Little-known rockshelter and cave sites in Jefferson County.
• Transitional Woodland/Mississippian sites in the Falls area of Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.
• Various Fort Ancient studies.
• Geophysical and archaeological investigations of various earthwork and mound sites.
• Research at a variety of late 18th- to 19th-century historic sites and cemeteries.
• An overview of 10 years of archaeology at Fort Knox.
The conference will get underway today with morning sessions for undergraduate and graduate students in multiple disciplines, focusing on professional development. Other sessions will be geared specifically to students studying archaeology and anthropology. Patrick Reed, park superintendent, will welcome participants.
The Violet City Lantern Tour of Mammoth Cave will take place from 2-5 p.m. CDT, led by Dr. George Crothers, director of the University of Kentucky Museum of Anthropology and Office of State Archaeology, and associate professor of anthropology. The tour is billed as the classic lantern tour with visits to numerous historic landmarks and nostalgic insights about the cave’s early history, supplemented with new information from Dr. Crothers’ research.
Dr. Crothers has been doing research at Mammoth Cave for several years and has extensive knowledge of significant archaeological resources within the cave, said Kary Stackelbeck, Heritage Council archaeology review coordinator and conference planner. “This is a wonderful opportunity to get a perspective that is not typically offered to the general public on this tour,” she said.
Presentations will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 17, with poster presentations from 7-10 p.m.; and 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, March 18, in the Rotunda Room at the park’s Mammoth Cave Hotel. Now in the final phase of a multi-year rehabilitation project, the visitor center will be open for participants to tour as time allows.
The Kentucky Heritage Council Archaeology Conference is open to anyone interested in Kentucky history or prehistory. Registration for Saturday and Sunday is $20, payable at the registration desk. The tour is currently full. For more information, contact the Heritage Council at 502-564-7005, ext. 112. More information about Kentucky’s prehistoric and historic cultures is available at the agency website, www.heritage.ky.gov.