The Appalachian Online

February 26, 1998

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Alumnus donates land, ancient artifacts found

Ric Beard, Staff Writer

Land donated by an Appalachian State University alumnus has yielded prehistoric treasures for the Department of Anthropology.

The land was donated by Appalachian graduate, Robert Gilley.

The land had been in his family for some time, before his grandparents sold some of it, said Gilley.

 After buying the land back, Gilley wasn’t sure what he would do with it.

 Gilley’s son suggested that he donate the land to his alma mater.

 The rest is history, ancient history.

 The land, which was originally donated to the Department of Biology, has turned up prehistoric artifacts discovered by the Department of Anthropology.

 “We have found four or five prehistoric sites up there,” said Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology Thomas Whyte.

 Whyte dates the artifacts between 6000 and 4000 B.C.E.

 The sites were “probably hunting camps and hunting stand sites used by Native Americans,” said Whyte.

 Whyte said that the Department of Anthropology uncovered thousands of artifacts with limited excavations.

 Among the artifacts recovered from the sites were spear points, knives and a stone pestle.

 Whyte said that the artifacts were probably left by “migratory hunters and gatherers who were there on a seasonal basis, who may have only spent two or three days there at a time.”

 Whyte said that wandering onto sites filled with artifacts is anything but rare in Watauga County.

 “We walk over them every day and don’t even realize it,” he said.

 Whyte, who started exploring the property in the 1995-96 academic year, said that the departmental goal is to establish a primitive living skills program called  the “Time Tunnel,” which will educate students as to what life was like 5,000 years ago.

 The biology department is also making use of the land.

Anthropology student, Taylor McDonald is studying the land to see if it is viable to grow hops there.

 Doug Meikle, chairman of the Department of Biology, said that the department is hoping to find out if hops could be an alternate crop for farmers in the area.

 Meikle said that the Department of Biology is also interested in studying the reforestation of land that has been cleared of its trees.

 According to Whyte, the land has been a valuable resource for archeological research.

 “We really appreciate the fact that Gilley donated that property so that we could do research there,” said Whyte.


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