Brook Run Site
VDOT archaeologists working in Culpeper County uncovered a Paleo-Indian jasper quarry site dating to 11,500 years ago. Artifacts of jasper indicate early occupants of North America came to the Brook Run area to actively mine jasper nodules from a vertical seam at the site.
The site was identified in 1998 during a cultural resources survey along Route 3. Archaeologists with the Louis Berger Group knew right away they had discovered something out of the ordinary.
“The alarm went off when they came through here…. instead of finding one or two artifacts, they were getting 300 artifacts,” said Eric Voigt, senior archaeologist with Louis Berger. So far the archaeologists have found about 700,000 jasper flakes, cores, and tools at the site.
Jackie Keeney, preservation program manager in VDOT's Fredericksburg District Office, explains that the important scientific information gained from the Brook Run site will expand our understanding of the earliest human occupations of North America. In particular how humans interacted with their environment at the end of the last Ice Age.
- Note: During the Ice Age, glaciers advanced into what is now Central Pennsylvania. A few hundred miles to the south, Paleo-Indians (Ice Age residents of North America) actively traveled the piedmont seeking convenient sources of food and raw materials such as jasper.
Voigt says that preliminary analyses indicate that a mixed conifer/ deciduous forest existed in the area of the site including spruce, tamarack, eastern hemlock, white oak, hickory, alder, and dogwood. Eastern hemlock disappeared from Virginia as the Ice Age came to a close about 10,000 years before the present and the climate began to warm.
Archeologists gather and catalog artifacts for analysis that will lead to a clearer understanding of who lived here 11,500 years ago, and how they adapted.