Eleven archaeological levels have been identified at Meadowcroft, ranging at least from 14,500 years ago through the mid-18th century AD. Because of the early dates and the perceived potential for contamination from bituminous coal in the cave, numerous radiocarbon dates--primarily AMS dates--have been taken, none of which appear to show evidence of that contamination.
The earliest component at Meadowcroft is called the Miller Complex, and artifacts associated with it show a sophisticated stone tool technology with unfluted bifacial points called Miller lanceolates. These and paleo-environmental reconstruction data suggest that the hunter-gatherers were using the rockshelter on an occasional basis some 14,000 years ago.
Meadowcroft Rockshelter was first reported in the late 18th century; excavations there have been conducted by James M. Adovasio and associates. Although the site created a substantial amount of controversy, Meadowcroft is still one of the most widely accepted preclovis sites, insofar as there can be such a thing.
Adovasio, J. M., J. Donahue, D. R. Pedler, and R. Stuckenrath 1998 Two decades of debate on Meadowcroft Rockshelter. North American Archaeologist 19(4):317-341.
Adovasio, James M. and Ronald C. Carlisle 1988 The Meadowcroft Rockshelter. Science 239:713-714.
Adovasio, James M., J. Donahue, and Robert Stuckenrath 1990 The Meadowcroft Rockshelter radiocarbon chronology 1975-1990. American Antiquity 55(2):348-354.
Haynes, C. V. 1991 More on Meadowcroft radiocarbon chronology. Review of Archaeology 12(1):8-14.
Tankersley, Kenneth B. and Cheryl A. Munson 1992 Comments on the Meadowcroft Rockshelter radiocarbon chronology and the recognition of coal contaminants. American Antiquity 57(2):321-326.
Tankersley, Kenneth B., Cheryl A. Munson, and Donald Smith 1987 Recognition of bituminous coal contaminants in radiocarbon samples. American Antiquity 52(2):318-330.
This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.