BREAKING: West Va. Caver Says He Discovered Ancient Indian Burial Site near Elk River

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IMAGE: Keeney’s original Facebook post, which is at the epicenter of this article.

October 11, 2015

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According to a series of posts made on Facebook Sunday, a West Virginia caver may have recently stumbled across what might  be one of the most astonishing archaeological finds in recent West Virginia memory.

Ray Hartzell, a caver and Charleston-area contractor says he was “exploring a remote area of the county,” near the banks of the Elk River, when he “found two separate tombs, a wall structure… and several smaller mounds.”

Stacy Kessler Keeney, who refers to Hartzell as her ex-brother-in-law, said that the Charleston contractor crawled back into the hole and found ancient skeletons “to what I believe to be Archiac or Paleo or early Woodland Indians,” adding, “The burial style says a lot.”

Sunday evening, Keeney posted photos of Hartzell at the cave’s entrance onto a Facebook group, and stated, “National Geographic is coming from what I hear. It’s truly an amazing find.”

Keeney said that she and her husband are avid artifact hunters and that she hopes this site will be preserved.

Referring to this specific location, which is on private property, Keeney writes, “A wall was built there at the turn of the century – actually several walls – not knowing what was laying 40 feet back.”

West Virginia’s prehistoric history is rich and has been well documented over the years; as of 2009, over 12,500 archaeological sites have been documented in the Mountain State.

According to anthropologists, the first evidence of humans in what is modern-day West Virginia dates back to the nomadic Paleo-Indians, roughly 11,000 years before the time of Christ.

From 7,000 to 1,000 BC, archaic Native American cultures developed in the Northern Panhandle, the Eastern Panhandle, and along the Kanawha River Valley. “They created temporary villages on the Kanawha region streams, Monongahela and Potomac tributary streams of the Allegheny Mountains.”

Appalachian Magazine has reached out to Hartzell and Keeney and will post updates as they become available.

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36 COMMENTS

  1. What if someone went to ur families gravesite and dug them up and put them on display??? Or just disturbed the site, how would u feel?

  2. I hope they don’t come in and desecrate the graves. This happens to many times in modern society. Seal them back up leave the remains in peace.

  3. Putting the find on Facebook and having tv come around, wow. Not a good way to keep it preserved. How about you don’t touch anything, take a few pictures, rock it back up and walk away. I know people who search for artifacts and when they come upon a sacred burial, such as this obviously is, they take pictures. They don’t move anything they certainly don’t announce what they’ve found, and they walk away. It’s called respect for the dead.

  4. Hopefully these burial sites will not be desecrated & will be treated with the respect that they deserve…

    • native american? lol

      “Recorded as Daily, Dailey, Dayly, Dayley, the original Gaelic O”Dalaigh, the fused French d”Oilly or de Oily, this is a surname of two quite separate origins. The first is Irish and it is reasonable to assume most modern surname holders drive from this source”

      • So every person has only one ethnicity? Whoa, I guess when my Asian mom took my German-American dad’s last name, her race magically changed.

  5. I think this is amazing find but I do have to agree with everyone else just leave it be… Say a prayer and walk away it would not be the right thing to do to dig up the remains just leave it be.

  6. I believe that professional archaeologists will treat the remains with respect and will do very little disturbing of them. Even minute samples of the human remains and artefacts will reveal a treasure trove of information.

  7. Leave it alone.. it had been found before, it was left alone out of respect .a lot of pple hunt and cave in that area..

  8. It may be sacred ground, but that would have to be established since no one knows for sure who they are until the do look, then they may be set aside as a sacred ground.

  9. I agree it needs to be left alone take pictures and seal it back up we have an old cave up the holler I grew up at and it’s covered by a big rock that fell over the opening that is suppose to have people that got trapped and died in there don’t know if it’s the truth it happened a long time ago was always curious if it’s true but it was left alone that was years ago before I was born but was told by several older people that lived up there as I was growing up

  10. Leave it alone. Have respect for the dead. It’s not your family or anyone’s to be bothering with this gravesite. I do hope that if you do something that your not suppose to that the God Lord will punished each an everyone that messes with the gravesite.

  11. I think that this find will be a great learning opportunity. I’m happy that the finder desires that the site is preserved. I believe he did the right thing in reporting it so it can be preserved, and protected. I have seen what happens to unprotected finds. Vandlism and theft.

  12. Leave it be!!! Archeologist largely are a group of looters and grave robbers. The only difference between them and pot hunters is the fact that archeologist can obtain the necessary permits that give them legal right to desecrate sacred sites. Sure they catalog and preserve relics and sites. However there is also a great deal of artifacts that mysteriously disappear and some how end up in the pockets and personal collections of the educated professionals. I have witnessed this first hand. Further more not much is gained in the study of grave sites. Especially Native American, as nearly 80% have already been desecrated. We probably know just about all we will ever know about early Native Americans as it is. How much more can we steal from them? Can we not allow thier people the dignity to leave thier ancestors rest in peace?

    • Not sure what you’re talking about when you say “moderated comments”? We do require all comments to be approved, but this is just to keep the Spammers from posting hundreds of weight loss / get rich quick schemes to the articles.

      Do you mind letting us know when a legitimate comment was deleted / not posted?

  13. I think the findings in the cave should be left alone.It shouldn’t hurt for the Archeologist to come study the findings,take pictures and what not,but leave everything untouched.Let it be marked as sacred and sealed off by government officials and marked off.And for this person named Ghryst what ever that is.keep their mouth off the Native American Indians and carry their A.. back to what ever place or hole they come out of for we’v done nothing for them to be badmouthing us.We know what we are,so keep your mouth off us.O.K.

  14. If it’s the same ones I’m thinking of there’s another one about 100 yards to the left out across the ridge I was there five years ago, and opted to leave them alone but I guess everyone has a different opinion of respect

  15. No doubt this is Sacred Ground.! Preserve it now and guard it …As A tour guide in Seneca Caverns, I learned so much from Spiological Experts..Learn it ,preserve it,guard it ,and gain the knowledge in it ..

  16. Without knowing who we are, is like not knowing how to read or write.
    Only you will know and all dies with you.
    We need to respect this find but it should be researched if its as old as believed to be….
    Then resealed and blessed for what we learn from them….
    David Gibson
    Native American by birth Cherokee by blood.

  17. “LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE” AS I TRAVEL AROUND WV I SEE AN AWFUL LOT OF FAMILY CEMETERIES. I WHAT IF SOMEONE CAME ALONG YEARS FROM NOW AND DUG UP OUR LOVED ONES? OUR SOULS WOULD NEVER REST! PUT THE ROCKS BACK AND LEAVE THE DEAD ALONE!! SHOW SOME RESPECT!! EVERYTHING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE FOR COMMERCIAL GAIN OR FAME!!
    I THINK IT’S PATHETIC HOW HUMANS HAVE TO DIG UP AND DISSECT THE BURIED JUST FOR KNOWLEDGE! IT’S A DISGRACE! FROM MUMMIES TO NATIVE AMERICANS …..TERRIBLE….JUST ASKING FOR TROUBLE!!!!

  18. There are spirits that protect places like this- find a real native in va and ask them… Get your ass to a sweat lodge and clean off-

  19. If only people took the time to fact-check themselves with a quick Google search. I don’t mean to troll, but it’s frustrating how little people understand about prehistory. If the burial style “says lot”, then why is this contractor listing almost every single prehistoric time period as a possibility? If the grave is supposedly Fort Ancient, it CANNOT date to 15k years ago. Check your facts – all dead brown people are not the same.

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