Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Meadowcroft Rockshelter (36WH297) is a deeply stratified, multicomponent site, approximately 50 km (31 mi) southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania near the village of Avella, in Washington County, Pennsylvania. The site is located on the north bank of Cross Creek, a small tributary of the Ohio River, which lies some 12.16 km to the west.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter is oriented east to west and has a southern exposure. It lies 259.9 m above sea level and is situated roughly.15m above Cross Creek. The area protected by the extant overhang is approximately. 65 m2, while the overhang itself is roughly 13 m above the modern surface of the site. Springs are abundant near the rockshelter.

Physiographically, Meadowcroft is located in the Unglaciated Appalachian or Allegheny Plateau west of the Valley and Ridge Province of the Appalachian mountains, northwest of the Appalachian Basin. The rockshelter is formed beneath a cliff of Morgantown-Connellsville sandstone, a thick fluvial or channel sandstone within the Casselman Formation of Pennsylvanian age.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter is in a maturely dissected topographic region. More than one-half of the 14,164 ha encompassed by the Cross Creek watershed is in valley slopes; upland and valley bottoms are in the minority. Maximum elevations in the Cross Creek drainage are generally above 396 m. Present area topography developed during the latter Pleistocene when increased precipitation and runoff caused extensive downcutting. The area was unaffected directly by glacial ice as the mapped Wisconsinan Kent moraine (Woodfordian age) is some 50 km north of the site, while the later Lavery till is ca. 83 km to the north. At the time Meadowcroft Rockshelter was initially occupied, the ice had retreated to the vicinity of modern-day Erie, Pennsylvania.

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