Archaic period (North America)
In the classification of the archaeological cultures of North America, the Archaic period or "Meso-Indian period" in North America, taken to last from around 8000 to 1000 BC in the sequence of North American pre-Columbian cultural stages, is a period defined by the archaic stage of cultural development. The Archaic stage is characterized by subsistence economies supported through the exploitation of nuts and shellfish; as its ending is defined by the adoption of sedentary farming, this date can vary across the Americas. The rest of the Americas have an Archaic Period; this classification system was first proposed by Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips in the accepted 1958 book Method and Theory in American Archaeology. In the organization of the system, the Archaic period followed the Lithic stage and is superseded by the Formative stage; the Lithic stage The Archaic stage The Formative stage The Classic stage The Post-Classic stageNumerous local variations have been identified within the cultural rankings.
The period has been subdivided by region and time. For instance, the Archaic Southwest tradition is subdivided into the Dieguito-Pinto, Oshara and Chihuahua cultures. Since the 1990s, secure dating of multiple Middle Archaic sites in northern Louisiana and Florida has challenged traditional models of development. In these areas, hunter-gatherer societies in the Lower Mississippi Valley organized to build monumental earthwork mound complexes as early as 3500 BC, with building continuing over a period of 500 years; such early mound sites as Frenchman's Bend and Hedgepeth were of this time period. Watson Brake is now considered to be the oldest mound complex in the Americas, it precedes. More than 100 sites have been identified as associated with the regional Poverty Point culture of the Late Archaic period, it was part of a regional trading network across the Southeast. Across what is now the Southeastern United States, starting around 4000 BC, people exploited wetland resources, creating large shell middens.
Middens developed where the people lived along rivers, but there is limited evidence of Archaic peoples along the coastlines prior to 3000 BC. Archaic sites on the coast may have been inundated by rising sea levels. Starting around 3000 BC, evidence of large-scale exploitation of oysters appears. During the period 3000 BC to 1000 BC, shell rings, large shell middens that more or less surround open centers, were developed along the coast of the Southeastern United States; these shell rings are numerous in South Carolina and Georgia, but are found scattered around the Florida Peninsula and along the Gulf of Mexico coast as far west as the Pearl River. In some places, such as Horr's Island in Southwest Florida, resources were rich enough to support sizable mound-building communities year-round. Four shell or sand mounds on Horr's Island have been dated to between 4,870 and 4,270 Before Present. Early Archaic8000 BC: The last glacial ends, causing sea levels to rise and flood the Beringia land bridge, closing the primary migration route from Siberia.
8000 BC: Sufficient rain falls on the American Southwest to support many large mammal species--mammoth, a bison species-—that soon go extinct. 8000 BC: Hunters in the American Southwest use the atlatl. 7500 BC: Early basketry. 7560—7370 BC: Kennewick Man dies along the shore of the Columbia River in Washington State, leaving one of the most complete early Native American skeletons. 7000 BC: Northeastern peoples depend on deer and wild grains as the climate warms. 7000 BC: Native Americans in Lahontan Basin, Nevada mummify their dead to give them honor and respect, evidencing deep concern about their treatment and condition. Middle Archaic6500 BC–200 AD: The San Dieguito-Pinto tradition and Chihuahua Tradition flourish in southern California, the Southwest, northwestern Mexico. 6000 BC: Ancestors of Penutian-speaking peoples settle in the Northwestern Plateau. 6000 BC: Nomadic hunting bands roam Subarctic Alaska following herds of caribou and other game animals. 6000 BC: Aleuts begin to arrive in the Aleutian Islands.
5700 BC: Cataclysmic eruption of Mount Mazama in Oregon. 5500 BC–500 AD Oshara Tradition, a Southwestern Archaic Tradition, arises in north-central New Mexico, the San Juan Basin, the Rio Grande Valley, southern Colorado, southeastern Utah. Natives of the Northwestern Plateau begin to rely on salmon runs. 5000 BC: Early cultivation of food crops began in Mesoamerica. 5000 BC: Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest from Alaska to California develop a fishing economy, with salmon as a staple. 5000 BC: The Old Copper Culture of the Great Lakes area hammers the metal into various tools and ornaments, such as knives, awls, bracelets and pendants. 5000 BC–200 AD: The Cochise Tradition arises in the American Southwest. Native Americans in the northern Great Lakes produce copper tools and utensils traded throughout the Great Plains and Ohio Valley. Shell ornaments and copper items at Indian Knoll in Kentucky evidence an extensive trade system over several millennia. 4000 BC: Inhabitants of Mesoamerica cultivate maize while Peruvian natives cultivate beans and squash.
4000–1000 BC: Old Copper Complex emerges in the Great Lakes region 3500 BC: The largest, oldest drive site at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Canada. 3500–3000 BC: Construction of extensive mound complex built at Watson Brake in the floodplain of the Ouachita River near Monroe in northern Louisiana. Shell ornaments and copper items at Indian Knoll, Kentucky evi
A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either or out of stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistoric cultures that have become extinct. Archaeologists study such prehistoric societies, refer to the study of stone tools as lithic analysis. Ethnoarchaeology has been a valuable research field in order to further the understanding and cultural implications of stone tool use and manufacture. Stone has been used to make a wide variety of different tools throughout history, including arrow heads and querns. Stone tools may be made of either ground stone or chipped stone, a person who creates tools out of the latter is known as a flintknapper. Chipped stone tools are made from cryptocrystalline materials such as chert or flint, chalcedony, obsidian and quartzite via a process known as lithic reduction. One simple form of reduction is to strike stone flakes from a nucleus of material using a hammerstone or similar hard hammer fabricator.
If the goal of the reduction strategy is to produce flakes, the remnant lithic core may be discarded once it has become too small to use. In some strategies, however, a flintknapper reduces the core to a rough unifacial or bifacial preform, further reduced using soft hammer flaking techniques or by pressure flaking the edges. More complex forms of reduction include the production of standardized blades, which can be fashioned into a variety of tools such as scrapers, knives and microliths. In general terms, chipped stone tools are nearly ubiquitous in all pre-metal-using societies because they are manufactured, the tool stone is plentiful, they are easy to transport and sharpen. Archaeologists classify stone tools into industries that share distinctive technological or morphological characteristics. In 1969 in the 2nd edition of World Prehistory, Grahame Clark proposed an evolutionary progression of flint-knapping in which the "dominant lithic technologies" occurred in a fixed sequence from Mode 1 through Mode 5.
He assigned to them relative dates: Modes 1 and 2 to the Lower Palaeolithic, 3 to the Middle Palaeolithic, 4 to the Advanced and 5 to the Mesolithic. They were not to be conceived, however, as either universal—that is, they did not account for all lithic technology. Mode 1, for example, was in use in Europe. Clark's scheme was adopted enthusiastically by the archaeological community. One of its advantages was the simplicity of terminology; the transitions are of greatest interest. In the literature the stone tools used in the period of the Palaeolithic are divided into four "modes", each of which designate a different form of complexity, which in most cases followed a rough chronological order. KenyaStone tools found from 2011 to 2014 at Lake Turkana in Kenya, are dated to be 3.3 million years old, predate the genus Homo by half million years. The oldest known Homo fossil is 2.8 million years old compared to the 3.3 million year old stone tools. The stone tools may have been made by Australopithecus afarensis —also called Kenyanthropus platyops— the species whose best fossil example is Lucy, which inhabited East Africa at the same time as the date of the oldest stone tools.
Dating of the tools was by dating volcanic ash layers in which the tools were found and dating the magnetic signature of the rock at the site. EthiopiaGrooved and fractured animal bone fossils, made by using stone tools, were found in Dikika, Ethiopia near the remains of Selam, a young Australopithecus afarensis girl who lived about 3.3 million years ago. The earliest stone tools in the life span of the genus Homo are Mode 1 tools, come from what has been termed the Oldowan Industry, named after the type of site found in Olduvai Gorge, where they were discovered in large quantities. Oldowan tools were characterised by their simple construction; these cores were river pebbles, or rocks similar to them, struck by a spherical hammerstone to cause conchoidal fractures removing flakes from one surface, creating an edge and a sharp tip. The blunt end is the proximal surface. Oldowan is a percussion technology. Grasping the proximal surface, the hominid brought the distal surface down hard on an object he wished to detach or shatter, such as a bone or tuber.
The earliest known Oldowan tools yet found date from 2.6 million years ago, during the Lower Palaeolithic period, have been uncovered at Gona in Ethiopia. After this date, the Oldowan Industry subsequently spread throughout much of Africa, although archaeologists are unsure which Hominan species first developed them, with some speculating that it was Australopithecus garhi, others believing that it was in fact Homo habilis. Homo habilis was the hominin who used the tools for most of the Oldowan in Africa, but at about 1.9-1.8 million years ago Homo erectus inherited them. The Industry flourished in southern and eastern Africa between 2.6 and 1.7 million years ago, but was spread out of Africa and into Eurasia by travelling bands of H. erectus, who took it as far east as Java by 1.8 million years ago and Northern China by 1.6 million years ago. More complex, Mode 2 tools began to be developed through the Acheulean Industry, named after the site
In the sequence of cultural stages first proposed for the archaeology of the Americas by Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips in 1958, the Lithic stage was the earliest period of human occupation in the Americas, as post-glacial hunters and collectors spread through the Americas. The stage derived its name from the first appearance of Lithic flaked stone tools; the term Paleo-Indian is an alternative indicating much the same period. This stage was conceived of as embracing two major categories of stone technology: unspecialized and unformulated core and flake industries, with percussion the dominant and only technique employed, industries exhibiting more advanced "blade" techniques of stoneworking, with specialized fluted or unfluted lanceolate points the most characteristic artifact types. Throughout South America, there are stone tool traditions of the lithic stage, such as the "fluted fishtail" that reflect localized adaptations to the diverse habitats of the continent; the indications and timing of the end of the Lithic stage vary between regions.
The use of textiles, fired pottery and start of the gradual replacement of hunter gatherer lifestyles with the use of agriculture and domesticated animals would all be factors. End dates are around 5,000 to 3,000 BC in many areas; the Archaic stage is the most used term for the succeeding stage, but in the periodization of pre-Columbian Peru the Cotton Pre-Ceramic may be used, as in the Norte Chico civilization cultivated cotton seems to have been important in economic and power relations, from around 3,200 BC. One of the leading figures is Alex Krieger who has documented hundreds of sites that have yielded crude, percussion-flaked tools; the most convincing evidence for a lithic stage is based upon data recovered from sites in South America where such crude tools have been found and dated to more than 20,000 years ago. In North America, the time encompasses the Paleo-Indian period that subsequently is divided into more specific time terms such as Early Lithic stage or Early Paleo-Indians and Middle Paleo-Indians or Middle Lithic stage.
Examples include the Clovis culture and Folsom tradition groups. The Lithic stage was followed by the Archaic stage. 12,340 BCE–10,800 BCE: a stone-lined hearth and coprolites left in Paisley Caves, Oregon 10,200 BCE: Cooper Bison skull is painted with a red zigzag in present-day Oklahoma, becoming the oldest known painted object in North America. 9500 BC: Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets retreat enough to open a habitable ice-free corridor through Canada along the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains. 9500 BC: People craft early Clovis spear points and skin scrapers from rock in New Mexico. 9250–8950 BC: Clovis points - thin, fluted projectile points created using bifacial percussion flaking - are created by Clovis culture peoples in the Plains and Southwestern North America 9001 BC: Archaeological materials found on the Channel Islands of California and in coastal Peru. 9000 BC: Archaeological materials found on Channel Islands off the California coast 9000 BC: Human settlers arrive in the Great Basin with its cool, wet prevailing climate 9000–8900 BC: The Folsom culture in New Mexico leaves Bison bones and stone spear points.
8700 BC: Human settlement reaches the Northwestern Plateau region. 8000 BC: The last glacial ends, causing sea levels to rise and flood the Beringia land bridge, closing the primary migration route from Siberia. 8000 BC: Sufficient rain falls on the American Southwest to support many large mammal species--mammoth, a bison species-—that soon go extinct. 8000 BC: Native Americans leave documented traces of their presence in every habitable corner of the Americas, including the American Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, a cave on Prince of Wales Island in the Alexander archipelago of southeast Alaska following these game animals. 8000 BC: Hunters in the American Southwest both use the atlatl. 8000 BC: Sufficient rain falls on the American Southwest to support many large mammal species, such as mammoth, a bison species-—that soon go extinct. 8000 BC: Hunters in the American Southwest use the atlatl. Times from the 8000 BC to about 3000 BC may be classified as part of the lithic stage or of an archaic stage, depending on authority and on region.
7500 BC: Early basketry. 7560—7370 BC: Kennewick Man dies along the shore of the Columbia River in Washington State, leaving one of the most complete early Native American skeletons. 7000 BC: Northeastern peoples depend on deer and wild grains as the climate warms. 7000 BC: Native Americans in Lahontan Basin, Nevada mummify their dead to give them honor and respect, evidencing deep concern about their treatment and condition. 6500 BC–200 AD: The San Dieguito-Pinto tradition and Chihuahua Tradition flourish in southern California, the Southwest, northwestern Mexico. 6000 BC: Ancestors of Penutian-speaking peoples settle in the Northwestern Plateau. 6000 BC: Nomadic hunting bands roam Subarctic Alaska following herds of caribou and other game animals. 6000 BC: Aleuts begin to arrive in the Aleutian Islands. 5700 BC: Cataclysmic eruption of Mount Mazama in Oregon. 5500 BC–500 AD Oshara Tradition, a Southwestern Archaic Tradition, arises in north-central New Mexico, the San Juan Basin, the Rio Grande Valley, southern Colorado, southeastern Utah.
Natives of the Northwestern Plateau begin to rely on salmon runs. 5000 BC: Early cultivation of food crops began in Mesoamerica. 5000 BC: Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest from Alaska to California develop a fishing economy, with salmon as a staple. 5000 BC: The Old Copper Culture of the Great Lakes area hammers the metal into various tools and ornaments, such as knives, awls, bracelets and pendants. Archaeology of the Amer
Fort Walton culture
The Fort Walton culture is the term used by archaeologists for a late prehistoric Native American archaeological culture that flourished in southeastern North America from 1200~1500 CE and is associated with the historic Apalachee people. The Fort Walton culture was named by archaeologist Gordon Willey for the Fort Walton Mound site near Fort Walton Beach, based on his work at the site. Through more work in the area archaeologist have now come to believe the Ft. Walton site was built and used by people of the contemporaneous Pensacola culture; the peoples of the Ft. Walton culture used sand, grog, or combinations of these materials as tempering agents in their pottery, whereas the Pensacola culture peoples used the more typical Mississippian culture shell tempering for their pottery. Using this unique combination of sand/grit/grog tempering as its criterion Fort Walton culture is now defined within the geographical area stretching from the Aucilla River in the east to a Pensacola–Fort Walton transitional area around Choctawhatchee Bay in the west and north into the interior of south Alabama and Georgia, 107 miles up the Apalachicola River and 50 miles up the Chattahoochee River.
1000 to 1200 CE local Weeden Island peoples began adapting and adopting intensive maize agriculture, the building of platform mounds for ceremonial and religious purposes and making a new variety of ceramics, changes influenced by contact with the major Mississippian culture centers to the north and west. Early archaeologists thought that the Fort Walton culture represented the intrusion of peoples from Mexico or Mississippian cultures from the northwest replacing the indigenous Weeden Island peoples, but by the late 1970s this theory was discounted. Layouts and locations for Fort Walton sites are similar to other Mississippian culture sites, with the exception of sites in the Tallahassee Hills area which because of the local geography are located around lakes and swamps instead of rivers. Settlement types include single family homesteads, multi family hamlets, small single mound centers, large multimound centers; the hierarchical settlement patterns suggests. By the Late Fort Walton period increased contact with Lamar Phase peoples from central Georgia saw another change in styles of decoration and manufacture of ceramics.
This new phase is known as the Leon-Jefferson culture. This period sees the collapse of the chiefdoms as aboriginal populations declined following contact with European explorers and colonizers, such as the Hernando de Soto Expedition in 1539; the Fort Walton and Leon-Jefferson peoples are the direct ancestors of the Apalachee peoples. The Lake Jackson Mounds site in Leon County is the largest known ceremonial center of the Fort Walton culture, although there are eight other known ceremonial sites in the Apalachee Province, it was occupied during the entire Fort Walton period, but abandoned at about 1500 CE when the capital of the chiefdom was moved to nearby Anhaica, the capital when the de Soto entrada encamped there in the winter of 1539. Another large site located nearby is the Velda Mound, occupied from 1450 to 1625. Other sites include the Yon Mound and Village Site in Liberty County, the Thick Greenbriar Site in Jackson County. Woodville Karst Plain Project Gabrielle Shahramfar. Determining Fort Walton burial patterns and their relationship within the greater Mississippian world.
University of South Florida
Mogollon culture is an archaeological culture of Native American peoples from Southern New Mexico and Arizona, Northern Sonora and Chihuahua, Western Texas, a region known as Oasisamerica. The Mogollon culture is one of the major prehistoric Southwestern cultural divisions of the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico; the culture flourished from the archaic period, c. 200 CE, to either 1450 or 1540 CE, when the Spanish arrived. The name Mogollon comes from the Mogollon Mountains, which were named after Don Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollón, Spanish Governor of New Spain from 1712 to 1715; the name was defined in 1936 by archaeologist Emil W. Haury; the distinct facets of Mogollon culture were recorded by Emil Haury, based on his excavations in 1931, 1933, 1934 at the Harris Village in Mimbres, New Mexico, the Mogollon Village on the upper San Francisco River in New Mexico Haury recognized differences between architecture and artifacts from these sites as compared with sites in the Hohokam archaeological culture area and the Ancestral Pueblo archaeological culture area.
Key differences included brown-paste, coil-and-scrape pottery excavated semi-subterranean pit-houses and different ceremonial architecture. Eight decades of subsequent research have confirmed Haury's initial findings. Today, the distinctiveness of the Mogollon pottery manufacture, architectural construction, ground-stone tool design and customs of residence location, mortuary treatment is recognized; the earliest Mogollon pithouses were deep and either oval-shaped. Over time, Mogollon people not as deep, their villages had kivas, or round, semi-subterranean ceremonial structures. Mogollon origins remain a matter of speculation. One model holds that the Mogollon emerged from a preceding Desert Archaic tradition that links Mogollon ancestry with the first prehistoric human occupations of the area. In this model, cultural distinctions emerged in the larger region when populations grew great enough to establish villages and larger communities. An alternative possibility holds that the Mogollon were descendants of early farmers who migrated from farming regions in central Mexico around 3500 BCE, who displaced descendants of the antecedent Desert Archaic peoples.
A third view is that at the time of the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture the Cochise culture had been immigrants into the area about 5000 BCE, were not linked to the earlier inhabitants, but were receptive to cultural dissemination from the farmers of Central Mexico. The Mogollon were foragers who augmented their subsistence efforts by farming. Through the first millennium CE, dependence on farming increased. Water control features are common among Mimbres branch sites from the 10th through 12th centuries CE; the nature and density of Mogollon residential villages changed through time. The earliest Mogollon villages are small hamlets composed of several pithouses. Village sizes increased by the 11th century surface pueblos became common. Cliff-dwellings became common during 14th centuries. Research on Mogollon culture has led to the recognition of regional variants, of which the most recognized in popular media is the Mimbres culture. Others include the Jornada, Reserve, Point of Pines, San Simon, Upper Gila branches.
Although the Mimbres culture is the most well-known subset of the Mogollon archaeological culture-area, the entire Mogollon occupation spans a greater interval of time and a vastly larger area than is encompassed by the Mimbres culture. Mogollon culture is divided into five periods proposed by Joe Ben Wheat in 1955: Mogollon 1: Pine Lawn, Penasco, Circle Prairie, Hilltop phases Mogollon 2: San Lorenzo, Dos Cabezas, Circle Prairie, Cottonwood phases Mogollon 3: San Francisco, Galiuro and San Marcial phases Mogollon 4: Three Circle, Corduroy and Capitan phases Mogollon 5, including the Classic Mimbres phrase: Mangus, Encinas, Tularosa, Dona Anna, Three Rivers, El Paso, San Anders phases. An alternate way of viewing Mogollon culture is through three periods of housing types: Early Pithouse Late Pithouse Mogollon Pueblo. Archaeological sites attributed to the Mogollon culture are found in the Gila Wilderness, Mimbres River Valley, along the Upper Gila river and Hueco Tanks, an area of low mountains between the Franklin Mountains to the west and the Hueco Mountains to the east.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in southwestern New Mexico was established as a National Monument on 16 November 1907. It contains several archaeological sites attributed to the Mimbres branch. At the headwaters of the Gila, Mimbres populations adjoined another more northern branch of the Mogollon culture; the TJ Ruin, for example, is a Classic Mimbres phase pueblo, however the cliff dwellings are Tularosa phase. The Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is 32 mi northeast of El Paso, Texas. Mimbres may, depending on its context, refer to a tradition within a subregion of the Mogollon culture area or to an interva
Coles Creek culture
Coles Creek culture is a Late Woodland archaeological culture in the Lower Mississippi valley in the southern United States. It followed the Troyville culture; the period marks a significant change in the cultural history of the area. Population increased and there is strong evidence of a growing cultural and political complexity by the end of the Coles Creek sequence. Although many of the classic traits of chiefdom societies are not yet manifested, by 1000 CE the formation of simple elite polities had begun. Coles Creek sites are found in Arkansas and Mississippi, it is considered ancestral to the Plaquemine culture. The Coles Creek culture is an indigenous development of the Lower Mississippi Valley that took place between the terminal Woodland period and the Plaquemine culture period; the period is marked by the increased use of flat-topped platform mounds arranged around central plazas, more complex political institutions, a subsistence strategy still grounded in the Eastern Agricultural Complex and hunting rather than on the maize plant as would happen in the succeeding Plaquemine Mississippian period.
The culture was defined by the unique decoration on grog-tempered ceramic ware by James A. Ford after his investigations at the Mazique Archeological Site, he had studied both the Mazique and Coles Creek Sites, went with the Mazique culture, but decided on the less involved sites name. The Coles Creak area is further subdivided into Coles Creek proper in the northern part of its range throughout the interior Mississippi Valley, Coastal Coles Creek, being found along the Gulf coast south of the latitude of modern Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Although earlier cultures built mounds as a part of mortuary customs, by the Coles Creek period these mounds took on a newer shape and function. Instead of being for burial, mounds were constructed to support temples and other civic structures. Pyramidal mounds with flat tops and ramps were constructed over successive years and with many layers. A temple or other structures of wattle and daub construction, would be built on the summit of the mound. A typical Coles Creek site plan consisted of at least two, more three, mounds around a central plaza.
This pattern emerged in 800 CE and continued for several hundred years. By late Coles Creek times, the site plans are enlarged to include up to three more mounds. Sites typical of this period are Mount Nebo, Holly Bluff, Kings Crossing, Lake Agnes. Many Coles Creek mounds were erected over earlier mortuary mounds, leading researchers to speculate that emerging elites were symbolically and physically appropriating dead ancestors to emphasize and project their own authority. Long-distance trade seems to have been negligible at this time, as exotic goods and trade items are rare in Coles Creek sites. There is little evidence of domesticated or cultivated plants until the end of the Coles Creek period. Acorns are a dominant food source, supplemented with persimmons and some starchy seeds such as maygrass. Coles Creek populations may have loosely "managed" certain plant resources in order to promote a better or more consistent food supply. Maize is found in limited quantities, but by 1000-1200 CE had begun to increase, although nowhere near the levels it would reach in Mississippian culture times.
The bow and arrow was introduced in this period. Pottery styles changed during this period, as people began to create more durable wares with more diversified uses. Wet clay was tempered with particles of dry clay to prevent cracking during firing. Most pots were decorated only on the upper half with designs of incised lines or impressed tool marks. Colors ranged from tan, black and gray, although the rare red example is known; the rare effigy pot is found. Plum Bayou culture Culture and chronological table for the Mississippi Valley Hudson, Charles M. Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun: Hernando De Soto and the South's Ancient Chiefdoms, University of Georgia Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8203-1888-4 R. Barry Lewis and Charles Stout, editors. "Mississippian Towns and Sacred Spaces", University of Alabama Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8173-0947-0 Southeastern Prehistory - Late Woodland Period
The Ancestral Puebloans were an ancient Native American culture that spanned the present-day Four Corners region of the United States, comprising southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, southwestern Colorado. The Ancestral Puebloans are believed to have developed, at least in part, from the Oshara Tradition, who developed from the Picosa culture, they lived in a range of structures that included small family pit houses, larger structures to house clans, grand pueblos, cliff-sited dwellings for defense. The Ancestral Puebloans possessed a complex network that stretched across the Colorado Plateau linking hundreds of communities and population centers, they held a distinct knowledge of celestial sciences. The kiva, a congregational space, used chiefly for ceremonial purposes, was an integral part of this ancient people's community structure. In contemporary times, the people and their archaeological culture were referred to as Anasazi for historical purposes; the Navajo, who were not their descendants, called them by this term.
Reflecting historic traditions, the term was used to mean "ancient enemies". Contemporary Puebloans do not want this term to be used. Archaeologists continue to debate; the current agreement, based on terminology defined by the Pecos Classification, suggests their emergence around the 12th century BC, during the archaeologically designated Early Basketmaker II Era. Beginning with the earliest explorations and excavations, researchers identified Ancestral Puebloans as the forerunners of contemporary Pueblo peoples. Three UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in the United States are credited to the Pueblos: Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Taos Pueblo. Pueblo, which means "village" in Spanish, was a term originating with the Spanish explorers who used it to refer to the people's particular style of dwelling; the Navajo people, who now reside in parts of former Pueblo territory, referred to the ancient people as Anaasází, an exonym meaning "ancestors of our enemies", referring to their competition with the Pueblo peoples.
The Navajo now use the term in the sense of referring to "ancient people" or "ancient ones". Hopi people used the term Hisatsinom, to describe the Ancestral Puebloans; the Ancestral Puebloans were one of four major prehistoric archaeological traditions recognized in the American Southwest. This area is sometimes referred to as Oasisamerica in the region defining pre-Columbian southwestern North America; the others are the Mogollon and Patayan. In relation to neighboring cultures, the Ancestral Puebloans occupied the northeast quadrant of the area; the Ancestral Puebloan homeland centers on the Colorado Plateau, but extends from central New Mexico on the east to southern Nevada on the west. Areas of southern Nevada and Colorado form a loose northern boundary, while the southern edge is defined by the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers in Arizona and the Rio Puerco and Rio Grande in New Mexico. Structures and other evidence of Ancestral Puebloan culture has been found extending east onto the American Great Plains, in areas near the Cimarron and Pecos Rivers and in the Galisteo Basin.
Terrain and resources within this large region vary greatly. The plateau regions have high elevations ranging from 4,500 to 8,500 feet. Extensive horizontal mesas are capped by sedimentary formations and support woodlands of junipers and ponderosa pines, each favoring different elevations. Wind and water erosion have created steep-walled canyons, sculpted windows and bridges out of the sandstone landscape. In areas where resistant strata, such as sandstone or limestone, overlie more eroded strata such as shale, rock overhangs formed; the Ancestral Puebloans favored building under such overhangs for shelters and defensive building sites. All areas of the Ancestral Puebloan homeland suffered from periods of drought, wind and water erosion. Summer rains could be unreliable and arrived as destructive thunderstorms. While the amount of winter snowfall varied the Ancestral Puebloans depended on the snow for most of their water. Snow melt allowed the germination of seeds, both cultivated, in the spring.
Where sandstone layers overlay shale, snow melt could accumulate and create seeps and springs, which the Ancestral Puebloans used as water sources. Snow fed the smaller, more predictable tributaries, such as the Chinle, Animas and Taos Rivers; the larger rivers were less directly important to the ancient culture, as smaller streams were more diverted or controlled for irrigation. The Ancestral Puebloan culture is best known for the stone and earth dwellings its people built along cliff walls during the Pueblo II and Pueblo III eras, from about 900 to 1350 AD in total; the best-preserved examples of the stone dwellings are now protected within United States' national parks, such as Navajo National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Aztec Ruins National Monument, Bandelier National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Canyon de Chelly National Monument. These villages, called pueblos by Spanish colonists, were accessible only by rope or through rock climbing.
These astonishing building achievements had modest beginnings. The first Ancestral Puebloan homes and villages were based on the pit-house, a common feature in the Basketmaker periods. Ancestral Puebloans are known for their pottery. In general, pottery used for cooking or storage in the region was unpainted gray, either smooth or textured. Pottery used for more formal purposes was more richly adorned. In the n