Woodland period

Last updated

In the classification of archaeological cultures of North America, the Woodland period of North American pre-Columbian cultures spanned a period from roughly 1000 BCE to European contact in the eastern part of North America, with some archaeologists distinguishing the Mississippian period, from 1000 CE to European contact as a separate period. [1] The term "Woodland Period" was introduced in the 1930s as a generic term for prehistoric sites falling between the Archaic hunter-gatherers and the agriculturalist Mississippian cultures. The Eastern Woodlands cultural region covers what is now eastern Canada south of the Subarctic region, the Eastern United States, along to the Gulf of Mexico. [2]

Contents

This period is variously considered a developmental stage, a time period, a suite of technological adaptations or "traits", and a "family tree" of cultures related to earlier Archaic cultures. [3] It can be characterized as a chronological and cultural manifestation without any massive changes in a short time but instead having a continuous development in stone and bone tools, leather crafting, textile manufacture, cultivation, and shelter construction. Many Woodland peoples used spears and atlatls until the end of the period, when they were replaced by bows and arrows; however, Southeastern Woodland peoples also used blowguns.

The most cited technological distinction of this period was the widespread use of pottery (although pottery manufacture had arisen during the Archaic period in some places), and the diversification of pottery forms, decorations, and manufacturing practices. The increasing use of horticulture and the development of the Eastern Agricultural Complex, consisting of weedy seed plants as well as gourd cultivation, also meant that groups became less mobile over time and, in some times and places, people lived in permanently occupied villages and cities. Intensive agriculture characterizes the Mississippian period from c. 1000–1400 CE and may have continued up to European contact, around 500 years ago. [4]

Early Woodland period (1000–200 BCE)

The Early Woodland period continued many trends begun during the Late and Terminal Archaic periods, including extensive mound-building, regional distinctive burial complexes, the trade of exotic goods across a large area of North America as part of interaction spheres, the reliance on both wild and domesticated plant foods, and a mobile subsistence strategy in which small groups took advantage of seasonally available resources such as nuts, fish, shellfish, and wild plants. Pottery, which had been manufactured during the Archaic period in limited amounts, was now widespread across the Eastern Interior, the Southeast, and the Northeast. The Far Northeast, the Sub-Arctic, and the Northwest/Plains regions widely adopted pottery somewhat later, about 200 BCE.

Interaction

The Adena culture built conical mounds in which single- or multiple-event burials, often cremated, were interred along with rich grave goods including copper bracelets, beads, and gorgets, art objects made from mica, novaculite, hematite, banded slate, and other kinds of stone, shell beads and cups, and leaf-shaped "cache blades". This culture is believed to have been core to the Meadowood Interaction Sphere, in which cultures in the Great Lakes region, the St. Lawrence region, the Far Northeast, and the Atlantic region interacted. The large area of interaction is indicated by the presence of Adena-style mounds, the presence of exotic goods from other parts of the interaction spheres, and the participation in the "Early Woodland Burial Complex" defined by William Ritchie [5]

Pottery

Pottery was widely manufactured and sometimes traded, particularly in the Eastern Interior region. Clay for pottery was typically tempered (mixed with non-clay additives) with grit (crushed rock) or limestone. Pots were usually made in a conoidal or conical jars with rounded shoulders, slightly constricted necks, and flaring rims. Pottery was most often decorated with a variety of linear or paddle stamps that created "dentate" (tooth-like) impressions, wavy line impressions, checked surfaces, or fabric-impressed surfaces, but some pots were incised with geometric patterns or, more rarely, with pictorial imagery such as faces. Pots were coiled and paddled entirely by hand without the use of fast rotation such as a pottery wheel. Some were slipped or brushed with red ochre.

Pottery, agriculture, and permanent settlements have often been thought of the three defining characteristics of the Woodland period. [6] However, it has become evident that, in some areas of North America, prehistoric cultural groups with a clearly Archaic cultural assemblage were making pottery without any evidence of the cultivation of domesticated crops. In fact, it appears that hunting and gathering continued as the basic subsistence economy and that subsistence horticulture/agriculture did not occur in much of the Southeast for a couple of thousand years after the introduction of pottery, and in parts of the Northeast, horticulture was never practiced. [7] This research indicated that a fiber-tempered horizon of ceramics greatly predates 1000 BCE, first appearing about 2500 BCE in parts of Florida with the Orange culture and in Georgia with the Stallings culture. [8] Nevertheless, these early sites were typical Archaic settlements, differing only in the use of basic ceramic technology. As such, researchers are now redefining the period to begin with not only pottery, but the appearance of permanent settlements, elaborate burial practices, intensive collection and/or horticulture of starchy seed plants (see Eastern Agricultural Complex), differentiation in social organization, and specialized activities, among other factors. Most of these are evident in the Southeastern Woodlands by 1000 BCE.

In some areas, like South Carolina and coastal Georgia, Deptford culture pottery manufacture ceased after c. 700 CE.

Subsistence strategies

In coastal regions, many settlements were near the coast, often near salt marshes, which were habitats rich in food resources. People tended to settle along rivers and lakes in both coastal and interior regions for maximum access to food resources. [9] Nuts were processed in large amounts, including hickory and acorns, and many wild berries, including palm berries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, were eaten, as well as wild grapes and persimmon. Most groups relied heavily on white-tailed deer, but a variety of other small and large mammals were hunted also, including beaver, raccoon, and bear. Shellfish formed an important part of the diet, attested to by numerous shell middens along the coast and interior rivers.

Coastal peoples practiced seasonal mobility, moving to the coast during the summer to take advantage of numerous marine resources such as sea mammals and shellfish, then moved to interior locations during the winter where access to deer, bear, and anadromous fish such as salmon could see them through the winter. Seasonal foraging also characterized the strategies of many interior populations, with groups moving strategically among dense resource areas.

Recently evidence has accumulated of a greater reliance of woodland peoples on cultivation in this period, at least in some localities, than has historically been recognized. This is especially true for the middle woodland period and perhaps beyond. C. Margaret Scarry states "in the Woodland periods, people diversified their use of plant foods ... [they] increased their consumption of starchy foods. They did so, however, by cultivating starchy seeds rather than by gathering more acorns." [10] Smith and Yarnell refer to an "indigenous crop complex" as early as 3800 B.P. in parts of the region. [11]

Middle Woodland period (200 BCE – 500 CE)

Hopewell Interaction Area and local expressions of the Hopewell tradition Hopewell Exchange Network HRoe 2010.jpg
Hopewell Interaction Area and local expressions of the Hopewell tradition

The beginning of the Middle Woodland saw a shift of settlement to the Interior. As the Woodland period progressed, local and inter-regional trade of exotic materials greatly increased to the point where a trade network covered most of the Eastern Woodlands. Throughout the Southeast and north of the Ohio River, burial mounds of important people were very elaborate and contained a variety of mortuary gifts, many of which were not local. Among the traded materials were copper from the Lake Superior deposits; silver from Lake Superior and especially Ontario; galena from Missouri and Illinois; mica from the southern Appalachians; chert from various places including Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois; pipestone from Ohio and Illinois; alligator teeth from the lower Mississippi Valley eastward to Florida; marine shells, especially whelks, from the south Atlantic and Gulf coasts; Knife River chalcedony from North Dakota; and obsidian from Yellowstone in Wyoming. [12] The most archaeologically certifiable sites of burial during this time were in Illinois and Ohio. These have come to be known as the Hopewell tradition. Due to the similarity of earthworks and burial goods, researchers assume a common body of religious practice and cultural interaction existed throughout the entire region (referred to as the "Hopewellian Interaction Sphere"). Such similarities could also be the result of reciprocal trade, obligations, or both between local clans that controlled specific territories. Access to food or resources outside a clan's territory would be made possible through formal agreements with neighbors. Clan heads would then be buried along with goods received from their trading partners to symbolize the relationships they had established. Under this scenario, permanent settlements would be likely to develop, leading to increased agricultural production and a population increase.

Ceramics during this time were thinner and better quality than earlier times. Examples also show pottery also was more decorated than Early Woodland. One style was the Trempealeau phase which could have been seen by the Hopewell in Indiana. This type included a round body, and lines of decoration with cross-etching on rim. The Havana style found in Illinois had a decorated neck. One of the major tools unique to this era was Snyders Points. These were quite large and corner-notched. They were made by soft-hammering percussion, and finished by pressure flaking. [13]

Although many of the Middle Woodland cultures are called "Hopewellian", and groups shared ceremonial practices, archeologists have identified the development of distinctly separate cultures during the Middle Woodland period. Examples include the Armstrong culture, Copena culture, Crab Orchard culture, Fourche Maline culture, the Goodall Focus, the Havana Hopewell culture, the Kansas City Hopewell, the Marksville culture, and the Swift Creek culture.

The Center for American Archeology specializes in Middle Woodland culture.

Late Woodland period (500–1000 CE)

The late Woodland period was a time of apparent population dispersal, although populations do not appear to have decreased. In most areas construction of burial mounds decreased drastically, as well as long-distance trade in exotic materials. At the same time, bow and arrow technology gradually overtook the use of the spear and atlatl, and agricultural production of the "Three Sisters" (maize, beans, and squash) was introduced. While full scale intensive agriculture did not begin until the following Mississippian period, the beginning of serious cultivation greatly supplemented the gathering of plants.

Late Woodland settlements became more numerous, but the size of each one (with exceptions) was smaller than their middle Woodland counterparts. The reasons for this are unknown, but it has been theorized that populations increased so much that trade alone could no longer support the communities and some clans resorted to raiding others for resources. Alternatively, the efficiency of bows and arrows in hunting may have decimated the large game animals, forcing the tribes to break apart into smaller clans to better use local resources, thus limiting the trade potential of each group. A third possibility is a colder climate may have affected food yields, possibly affected by Northern Hemisphere extreme weather events of 535–536, also limiting trade possibilities. Lastly, it may be that agricultural technology became sophisticated enough that crop variation between clans lessened, thereby decreasing the need for trade.

As communities became more isolated, they began to develop in their own unique ways, giving rise to small-scale cultures that were distinctive to their regional areas. Examples include the Baytown, Troyville and Coles Creek cultures of Louisiana, the Alachua and Weeden Island cultures of Florida, and the Plum Bayou culture of Arkansas and Missouri.

Although the 1000 CE ending of the Late Woodland period is traditional, in practice many regions of the Eastern Woodlands adopted the full Mississippian culture much later than that. Some groups in the north and northeast of the current United States, such as the Iroquois, retained a way of life that was technologically identical to the Late Woodland until the arrival of Europeans. Furthermore, despite the widespread adoption of the bow and arrow during this time, the peoples of a few areas appear never to have made the change. During Hernando de Soto's travels through the Southeastern Woodlands around 1543, the groups at the mouth of the Mississippi river still preferentially used the spear.

See also

Notes

  1. McDonald and Woodward, Indian Mounds of the Atlantic Coast: A Guide from Maine to Florida, McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Newark OH, 1987 p.13
  2. "Eastern Woodland Indians Culture". Native Art in Canada. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  3. Mason, Ronald J. (1970). "Hopewell, Middle Woodland, and the Laurel Culture: A Problem in Archaeological Classification". American Anthropologist 72(4):802–15.
  4. Neusius, Sarah W. and G. Timothy Gross (2014). "Seeking Our Past: An Introduction to North American Archaeology". Oxford University Press.
  5. Ritchie, W. A. (1955). "Recent Discoveries Suggesting an Early Woodland Burial Cult in the Northeast". New York State Museum and Science Service Circular 40. The University of the State of New York, Albany.
  6. "Quick study: Woodland Period". learnnc.org. Research Laboratories of Archaeology. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  7. "The Woodland Period (ca. 2000 B.C. – A.D. 1000)". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  8. Kenneth E. Sassaman (2002). "Woodland Ceramic Beginnings". In David G. Anderson and Robert C. Mainfort Jr (ed.). The Woodland Southeast. University of Alabama Press. ISBN   0-8173-1137-8.
  9. Fiedel, Stuart J. (1992). "Prehistory of the Americas, 2nd Edition." Cambridge University Press.
  10. C. Margaret Scarry (2003). "Patterns of Wild Plant Utilization in the Prehistoric Eastern Woodlands". In Paul E. Minnis, People and Plants in Ancient Eastern North America, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution
  11. Bruce D. Smith and Richard A. Yarnell (2009). "Initial formation of an indigenous crop complex in eastern North America at 3800 B.P.", PNAS, vol. 106, no. 16, 6561–6566
  12. Milner, George R. (2004). The Moundbuilders: Ancient Peoples of Eastern North America. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson. pp. 82–83. ISBN   0-500-02118-X.
  13. Behm, Jeffrey (2007 March) Middle Woodland. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Oshkosh, WI

Related Research Articles

Hopewell tradition Common aspects of Native American culture that flourished in northeastern and midwestern North America

The Hopewell tradition describes the common aspects of the Native American culture that flourished along rivers in the northeastern and midwestern Eastern Woodlands from 100 BCE to 500 CE, in the Middle Woodland period. The Hopewell tradition was not a single culture or society, but a widely dispersed set of related populations. They were connected by a common network of trade routes, known as the Hopewell exchange system.

Fort Ancient Archaeological culture in the Ohio River valley

Fort Ancient is a name for a Native American culture that flourished from Ca. 1000-1750 CE and predominantly inhabited land near the Ohio River valley in the areas of modern-day southern Ohio, northern Kentucky, southeastern Indiana and western West Virginia. Although a contemporary of the Mississippian Culture, they are often considered a "sister culture" and distinguished from the Mississippian Culture. Although far from agreed upon, there is evidence to suggest that the Fort Ancient Culture were not the direct descendants of the Hopewellian Culture]. It is suspected that the Fort Ancient Culture introduced maize agriculture to Ohio. The Fort Ancient Culture were most likely the builders of the Great Serpent Mound.

Mississippian culture Mound-building Native American culture in Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States

The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American civilization that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 to 1600, varying regionally. It was composed of a series of urban settlements and satellite villages (suburbs) linked together by loose trading networks. The largest city was Cahokia, believed to be a major religious center.

Mound Builders Pre-Columbian cultures of North America that constructed various styles of earthen mounds

The various cultures collectively termed "Mound Builders" were inhabitants of North America who, during a 5,000-year period, constructed various styles of earthen mounds for religious, ceremonial, burial, and elite residential purposes. These included the pre-Columbian cultures of the Archaic period, Woodland period, and Mississippian period; dating from roughly 3500 BCE to the 16th century CE, and living in regions of the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley, and the Mississippi River valley and its tributary waters.

Hopewell pottery

Hopewell pottery is the ceramic tradition of the various local cultures involved in the Hopewell tradition and are found as artifacts in archeological sites in the American Midwest and Southeast. The Hopewell were located around the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers during the Middle Woodland Period, and the Hopewell Interaction Sphere spanned from the Gulf of Mexico to Ontario, Canada.

Timeline of North American prehistory timeline

This is a timeline of in North American prehistory, from 1000 BC until European contact.

Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site Archaeological site in Illinois, US

The Kincaid Mounds Historic Site c. 1050–1400 CE, is the site of a city from the prehistoric Mississippian culture. One of the largest settlements of the Mississippian culture, it was located at the southern tip of present-day U.S. state of Illinois. Kincaid Mounds has been notable for both its significant role in native North American prehistory and for the central role the site has played in the development of modern archaeological techniques. The site had at least 11 substructure platform mounds. Artifacts from the settlement link its major habitation and the construction of the mounds to the Mississippian period, but it was also occupied earlier during the Woodland period.

Albany Mounds State Historic Site United States historic place

Albany Mounds State Historic Site, also known as Albany Mounds Site, is a historic site operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. It spans over 205 acres of land near the Mississippi river at the northwest edge of the state of Illinois in the United States. In 1974, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places list. The historical site is under the provision of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, a governmental agency founded in 1985 for the maintaining of historical sites within the state. In the 1990s, the site underwent a restoration project that aimed to return its appearance to its original condition.

Leake Mounds

Leake Mounds (9BR2) is an important archaeological site in Bartow County, Georgia built and used by peoples of the Swift Creek Culture. The site is 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Etowah Mounds on the Etowah River, although it predates that site by hundreds of years. Excavation of nearly 50,000 square feet (4,600 m2) on the site showed that Leake Mounds was one of the most important Middle Woodland period site in this area from around 300 BCE to 650 CE, a center with ties throughout the Southeast and Midwest. It was abandoned about 650 CE and not occupied again until by different peoples near the end of the Mississippian culture period, about 1500.

The Prehistory of West Virginia spans ancient times until the arrival of Europeans in the early 17th century. Hunters ventured into West Virginia's mountain valleys and made temporary camp villages since the Archaic period in the Americas. Many ancient human-made earthen mounds from various mound builder cultures survive, especially in the areas of Moundsville, South Charleston, and Romney. The artifacts uncovered in these areas give evidence of a village society with a tribal trade system culture that included limited cold worked copper. As of 2009, over 12,500 archaeological sites have been documented in West Virginia.

Archaeology of Iowa Aspect of archaeology in the United States

The archaeology of Iowa is the study of the buried remains of human culture within the U.S. state of Iowa from the earliest prehistoric through the late historic periods. When the American Indians first arrived in what is now Iowa more than 13,000 years ago, they were hunters and gatherers living in a Pleistocene glacial landscape. By the time European explorers visited Iowa, American Indians were largely settled farmers with complex economic, social, and political systems. This transformation happened gradually. During the Archaic period American Indians adapted to local environments and ecosystems, slowly becoming more sedentary as populations increased. More than 3,000 years ago, during the Late Archaic period, American Indians in Iowa began utilizing domesticated plants. The subsequent Woodland period saw an increase on the reliance on agriculture and social complexity, with increased use of mounds, ceramics, and specialized subsistence. During the Late Prehistoric period increased use of maize and social changes led to social flourishing and nucleated settlements. The arrival of European trade goods and diseases in the Protohistoric period led to dramatic population shifts and economic and social upheaval, with the arrival of new tribes and early European explorers and traders. During the Historical period European traders and American Indians in Iowa gave way to American settlers and Iowa was transformed into an agricultural state.

The Pisgah Phase is an archaeological phase of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture in parts of northeastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and northwestern South Carolina.

Point Peninsula Complex Archaeological culture in North America

The Point Peninsula Complex was an indigenous culture located in Ontario and New York from 600 BCE to 700 CE. Point Peninsula ceramics were first introduced into Canada around 600 BCE then spread south into parts of New England around 200 BCE. Some time between 300 BCE and 1 CE, Point Peninsula pottery first appeared in Maine, and "over the entire Maritime Peninsula." Little evidence exists to show that it was derived from the earlier, thicker pottery, known as Vinette I, Adena Thick, etc... Point Peninsula pottery represented a new kind of technology in North America and has also been called Vinette II. Compared to existing ceramics that were thicker and less decorated, this new pottery has been characterized by "superior modeling of the clay with vessels being thinner, better fired and containing finer grit temper." Where this new pottery technology originated is not known for sure. The origin of this pottery is "somewhat of a problem." The people are thought to have been influenced by the Hopewell traditions of the Ohio River valley. This influence seems to have ended about 250 CE, after which they no longer practiced burial ceremonialism.

Laurel Complex Former Native American culture in upper midwest and Canada

The Laurel Complex was a Native American culture in southern Quebec, southern and northwestern Ontario and east-central Manitoba in Canada and northern Michigan, northwestern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota in the United States. They were the first pottery using people of Ontario north of the Trent-Severn Waterway. The complex is named after the former unincorporated community of Laurel, Minnesota.

Kansas City Hopewell

The Kansas City Hopewell were the farthest west regional variation of the Hopewell tradition of the Middle Woodland period. Sites were located in Kansas and Missouri around the mouth of the Kansas River where it enters the Missouri River. There are 30 recorded Kansas City Hopewell sites.

Marksville culture archaeological culture in the south-eastern United States

The Marksville culture was an archaeological culture in the lower Lower Mississippi valley, Yazoo valley, and Tensas valley areas of present-day Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, and extended eastward along the Gulf Coast to the Mobile Bay area, from 100 BCE to 400 CE. This culture takes its name from the Marksville Prehistoric Indian Site in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. Marksville Culture was contemporaneous with the Hopewell cultures within present-day Ohio and Illinois. It evolved from the earlier Tchefuncte culture and into the Baytown and Troyville cultures, and later the Coles Creek and Plum Bayou cultures. It is considered ancestral to the historic Natchez and Taensa peoples.

Caddoan Mississippian culture prehistoric Native American culture in south-eastern United States

The Caddoan Mississippian culture was a prehistoric Native American culture considered by archaeologists as a variant of the Mississippian culture. The Caddoan Mississippians covered a large territory, including what is now Eastern Oklahoma, Western Arkansas, Northeast Texas, and Northwest Louisiana. Archaeological evidence that the cultural continuity is unbroken from prehistory to the present; that the direct ancestors of the modern Caddo Nation of Oklahoma included the speakers of the Caddo and related Caddo language in prehistoric times and at first European contact, is unquestioned today.

Fourche Maline culture Woodland Period Native American culture

The Fourche Maline culture was a Woodland Period Native American culture that existed from 300 BCE to 800 CE, in what are now defined as southeastern Oklahoma, southwestern Arkansas, northwestern Louisiana, and northeastern Texas. They are considered to be one of the main ancestral groups of the Caddoan Mississippian culture, along with the contemporaneous Mill Creek culture of eastern Texas. This culture was named for the Fourche Maline Creek, a tributary of the Poteau River. Their modern descendants are the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma.

Cleiman Mound and Village Site United States historic place

The Cleiman Mound and Village Site is a prehistoric archaeological site located near the Mississippi River in Jackson County, Illinois. The site includes an intact burial mound and the remains of a village site. The village was inhabited by a number of prehistoric cultures during the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods; settlement at the site began prior to 400 B.C. and lasted through 1300 A.D. The mound was built during the Middle Woodland Period by Hopewellian peoples and is likely the only Hopewell mound in the Mississippi Valley in Southern Illinois.

References