The staff of the Section of Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania just completed a very busy week at the 2017 Pennsylvania Farm Show. Our theme for this year’s exhibit was Pennsylvania Petroglyphs – a rare glimpse into the minds of ancient Native Americans.
The exhibit represents a major investment of staff and volunteers, but there is no question that our presentation makes a difference in Pennsylvania archaeology. We continued to see excitement in the eyes of children and adults as they sat in the dugout or as they stood gazing at the banner illustrating the Little Indian Rock petroglyphs or rubbing their hands over the resin cast of the Parkers Landing Water Panther petroglyph.
The dugout is still the place to take the annual family picture and thousands were taken. We spoke to over 30,000 visitors and distributed over 13,500 archaeology brochures and over 3600 temporary tattoos, free planetarium passes and magazines, including 750 copies of American Archaeology magazine, 1100 Archaeology Month posters and 670 back issues of Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine. These were especially important in promoting the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the State Museum, and the Heritage Foundation. In addition, the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, Inc (SPA) had a table for distributing information on archaeology and accepting new memberships.
Our principal goal at the Farm Show is to always share highlights of Pennsylvania archaeology with the citizens of the Commonwealth and encourage visitation to the State Museum where the learning experience continues about Pennsylvania’s archaeological past. We also strive to promote the preservation of archaeological sites in our state so that future generations can benefit from these valuable resources. The high volume of attendance is a testimony to the quality of the exhibit, the initiative of our volunteers in engaging the public and the public’s interest in archaeology.
Pennsylvania has an outstanding wealth of archaeological resources that we believe can enhance the lives of all citizens. Our exhibit on the petroglyphs and the information that was disseminated is another step in communicating this heritage to the citizens of our Commonwealth. This year, visitors were fascinated with the mystery and meaning of the petroglyphs. As you know, the archaeological resources of Pennsylvania are being destroyed at an ever-increasing pace. We need help in slowing this destruction and the Farm Show exhibit is a significant vehicle for the dissemination of information and for increasing public awareness to the threats to archaeological resources.
Our exhibit was well received and we are beginning to plan next year’s theme and reflect on how we can improve the presentation. For example, we are considering an exhibit featuring a Susquehannock longhouse. The theme has been suggested several times in the past and it would coincide with planned upgrades in our Indian village gallery - we are open to suggestions.
For more information, visit PAarchaeology.state.pa.us or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .