Displays in West Virginia University’s Natural History Museum aren’t simply wild – they’re prehistoric.

The Museum recently received an in-kind donation of world class stone-age artifacts displaying and representing the entire range of paleolithic tool technology dating from 2.5-million-year-old Unifacial Mode I Oldawan cobble choppers to the 5,000-year-old neolithic hafted arrowheads and includes every major tool tradition in between. The donation is valued at $367,000.

Housed in the Division of Forestry and Natural Resources in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, the Museum is home to hundreds of taxidermy specimens and, now, an impressive array of ancient artifacts which span the pre-history of mankind from Homo habilis to Homo sapien.

“The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has a great interest in history and preserving natural and cultural history collections,” said Jim Anderson, professor of wildlife and fisheries resources and Davis-Michael Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources. “He wanted to donate hunting and gathering artifacts to WVU for our Natural History Museum for education and display purposes.”

The artifacts include a diverse group of arrowheads, points, choppers, scrapers, and cutting tools. Among them are Capsian Culture Neolithic arrowheads from the Moroccan Sahara Desert; Stemmed Aterian Points knapped by Cro-magnon man and Archaic Homo sapiens, used to harvest the various species of grazing animals, as well as the birds, fish and small game of what is now, the Saharan Desert; Oldawan Choppers or hand axes collected prior to 1945 from Pointe-Aux-Oies, Wimeraux, France, the famous prehistoric site which bore its name until its destruction during World War II and the European campaign; Acheulean Large Cutting Tools (LCTs) from North Africa; and pieces of Libyan Desert Glass.

Ann Anderson, wildlife biologist and visiting instructor, believes the rarest of the lot are the Oldawan Choppers and Libyan Desert Glass.

“Libyan Desert Glass is very rare and is the result of very high temperatures 28.5 million years ago. It’s also 800 times more rare than gold,” she explained. “The Oldawan choppers from Foum Al Hasan, Morocco, estimated in age between two and one million years before present, are also of extreme rarity.”

The donation is a significant addition to the budding museum.

“It will help us increase the audience of individuals interested in the museum and allowing for further development and enhancement,” Jim Anderson said. “The donor specifically chose WVU not only because the scope and genre of the museum was a perfect fit, but also because our museum is small and growing, and such a donation will have a greater impact on our museum, than perhaps, a larger, more established unit.”

Ann Anderson says having these artifacts on-hand will help provide educational opportunities to WVU students and the general public. The collection will also be shared with colleges and units across the University including the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

The relics will primarily be stored in a safe location and used in the undergraduate level course, The Tradition of Hunting (WMAN 100), as well as for education programs with children and the general public related to demonstration of early hunting and gathering cultures and techniques. Some will also be on display in the lobby of Percival Hall.

“These types of artifacts are great for public education events because the general public can pick up, feel, and touch them, observe and examine the styles of workmanship and identify the varied levels of technology”, she said. “The awe of having the opportunity to see and hold a prehistoric artifact of this quality and age is a lifetime experience that is better shared and experienced by all.”

Jim Anderson notes museum developers are currently seeking financial and public support to continue to develop more displays. He also points out the tremendous benefit that in-kind contributions play in supporting programs for WVU students, staff, and faculty as well as the general public.

Gifts to the museum project are made through the WVU Foundation, the private, non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.

To learn more about the museum, visit http://wvnaturalhistory.wvu.edu/.



CONTACT: Lindsay Willey; Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
304.293.-2381, Lindsay.Willey@mail.wvu.edu

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