The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American civilization archeologists date from about 800 CE to 1600 CE, varying regionally. It was composed of a series of urban settlements and satellite villages linked together by a loose trading network; the largest city was Cahokia, believed to be a major religious center. The civilization flourished from the southern shores of the Great Lakes at Western New York and Western Pennsylvania in what is now the Eastern Midwest, extending south-southwest into the lower Mississippi Valley and wrapping easterly around the southern foot of the Appalachians barrier range into what is now the Southeastern United States; the Mississippian way of life began to develop in the Mississippi River Valley. Cultures in the tributary Tennessee River Valley may have begun to develop Mississippian characteristics at this point. All dated Mississippian sites predate 1539–1540, with notable exceptions being Natchez communities that maintained Mississippian cultural practices into the 18th century.
A number of cultural traits are recognized as being characteristic of the Mississippians. Although not all Mississippian peoples practiced all of the following activities, they were distinct from their ancestors in adoption of some or all of these traits; the construction of large, truncated earthwork pyramid mounds, or platform mounds. Such mounds were square, rectangular, or circular. Structures were constructed atop such mounds. Maize-based agriculture. In most places, the development of Mississippian culture coincided with adoption of comparatively large-scale, intensive maize agriculture, which supported larger populations and craft specialization. Women ate more maize, whereas men ate more animal meat. Shell-tempered pottery; the adoption and use of riverine shells as tempering agents in ceramics. Widespread trade networks extending as far west as the Rockies, north to the Great Lakes, south to the Gulf of Mexico, east to the Atlantic Ocean; the development of the chiefdom or complex chiefdom level of social complexity.
The development of institutionalized social inequality. A centralization of control of combined political and religious power in the hands of few or one; the beginnings of a settlement hierarchy, in which one major center has clear influence or control over a number of lesser communities, which may or may not possess a smaller number of mounds. The adoption of the paraphernalia of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex called the Southern Cult; this is the belief system of the Mississippians. SECC items are found in Mississippian-culture sites from Wisconsin to the Gulf Coast, from Florida to Arkansas and Oklahoma; the SECC was tied into ritual game-playing, as with chunkey. The Mississippians had no writing stone architecture, they worked occurring metal deposits, such as hammering and annealing copper for ritual objects such as Mississippian copper plates and other decorations, but did not smelt iron or practice bronze metallurgy. The Mississippi stage is divided into three or more chronological periods.
Each period is an arbitrary historical distinction varying regionally. At a particular site, each period may be considered to begin earlier or depending on the speed of adoption or development of given Mississippian traits; the "Mississippi period" should not be confused with the "Mississippian culture". The Mississippi period is the chronological stage, while Mississippian culture refers to the cultural similarities that characterize this society; the Early Mississippi period had just transitioned from the Late Woodland period way of life. Different groups abandoned tribal lifeways for increasing complexity, sedentism and agriculture. Production of surplus corn and attractions of the regional chiefdoms led to rapid population concentrations in major centers; the Middle Mississippi period is the apex of the Mississippi era. The expansion of the great metropolis and ceremonial complex at Cahokia, the formation of other complex chiefdoms, the spread and development of SECC art and symbolism are characteristic changes of this period.
The Mississippian traits listed above came to be widespread throughout the region. The Late Mississippi period is characterized by increasing warfare, political turmoil, population movement; the population of Cahokia dispersed early in this period migrating to other rising political centers. More defensive structures are seen at sites, sometimes a decline in mound-building and large-scale, public ceremonialism. Although some areas continued an Middle Mississippian culture until the first significant contact with Europeans, the population of most areas had dispersed or were experiencing severe social stress by 1500. Along with the contemporaneous Ancestral Pueblo peoples, these cultural collapses coincide with the global climate change of the Little Ice Age. Scholars theorize drought and the reduction of maize agriculture, together with possible deforestation and overhunting by the concentrated populations, forced them to move away from major sites; this period ended with European contact in the 16th century.
The term Middle Mississippian is used to describe the core of the classic Mississippian culture area. This area covers the central Mississippi River Valley, the lower Ohio River Valley, most of the Mid-South area, including western and central Kentucky, western Tennessee, northern Alabama and Mississippi. Sites in this area often
The Alachua culture is a Late Woodland Southeast period archaeological culture in north-central Florida, dating from around 600 to 1700. It is found in an area corresponding to present-day Alachua County, the northern half of Marion County and the western part of Putnam County, it was preceded by the Cades Pond culture, which inhabited the same area. The archeologist Jerald Milanich suggests that the people of the Alachua culture were immigrants from what is now Georgia. Early Alachua culture pottery resembled that of the Ocmulgee culture found along the Ocmulgee River. In this scenario, the Ocmulgee immigrants were either practicing agriculture or adopted it shortly after arriving, settled in upland areas suitable for agriculture; these areas had been little used by the Cades Pond people. The Cades Pond culture disappeared soon after the appearance of the Alachua culture. Other archaeologists have suggested that the distinctive Alachua pottery types developed in situ, that the resemblance between Ocmulgee and Alachua pottery resulted from a migration from the Alachua area to the Ocmulgee area.
Archaeologists note the close resemblance between Alachua culture and neighboring Suwannee Valley culture pottery, which appears to have developed in situ out of the McKeithen Weeden Island culture. The precolumbian part of the Alachua culture period has been divided into the Hickory Pond period and the Alachua period. At the time of first contact with Spanish explorers, the Alachua culture area was occupied by the historical Potano Indians, a branch of the Timucua, they spoke the Potano dialect of the Timucua language. The sub-periods in the Alachua culture period are defined by the relative prevalence of different pottery types; the most common type of pottery during the Hickory Pond period was the Prairie Cord Marked style. The Alachua Cob Marked style became more prevalent in the Alachua sub-period. Other styles of pottery occurred throughout the Alachua culture period; the period after 1539 was characterized by the introduction of European artifacts and of pottery styles from other cultures.
The Potano II period was marked by the complete replacement of traditional pottery styles by Leon-Jefferson pottery styles. This suggests that the depopulated Potano Province was repopulated from Apalachee Province, but no evidence of such a population movement has been found in Spanish documents. Stone and bone tools show little variation over the course of the period; the Alachua-culture people occupied hardwood hammocks, with village sites on high ground, near streams or sinkholes. The village sites are in clusters, which may have resulted from periodic relocation of a village in a small area; the village clusters tend to fall along lines, which may represent the lines of the hammocks, or the paths of trails. Archaeological sites associated with the Alachua culture include the Richardson Site believed to have been the site of the town of Potano visited by Hernando de Soto in 1539, as well as the mission of San Buenaventura de Potano. Other Alachua culture sites include Bolen Bluff, Fox Pond, Henderson Mound, Law School Mound, Rocky Point and Woodward Mound and Village.
The presence of Cob Marked pottery throughout the period indicates that the people of the Alachua culture grew maize. Middens contain few fresh water shells, a smaller number of animal species, compared to Cades Pond middens; this may indicate a reduction in hunting and gathering as food sources, compared to the preceding Cades Pond culture. A more detailed analysis of the food resources used by the Alachua culture people has not been made. Burial mounds have not been extensively excavated. Storage pits and indications of other structures, including a circular house at one site, have been found in villages. List of Native American peoples in the United States Milanich, Jerald T.. Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1273-2. Milanich, Jerald T.. Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1360-7 Milanich, Jerald T.. Florida's Indians from Ancient Times to the Present. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida.
ISBN 0-8130-1599-5 Rolland, Vicki. "The Alachua of North Central Florida". In Ashley, Keith. Late Prehistoric Florida. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. Pp. 126–48. ISBN 978-0-8130-4014-1. Worth, John E.. "An Overview of the Suwannee Valley Culture". In Ashley, Keith. Late Prehistoric Florida. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. Pp. 149–71. ISBN 978-0-8130-4014-1
The Clovis culture is a prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture, named for distinct stone tools found in close association with Pleistocene fauna at Blackwater Locality No. 1 near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1920s and 1930s. It appears around 11,500–11,000 uncalibrated radiocarbon years before present at the end of the last glacial period, is characterized by the manufacture of "Clovis points" and distinctive bone and ivory tools. Archaeologists' most precise determinations at present suggest this radiocarbon age is equal to 13,200 to 12,900 calendar years ago. Clovis people are considered to be the ancestors of most of the indigenous cultures of the Americas; the only human burial, directly associated with tools from the Clovis culture included the remains of an infant boy researchers named Anzick-1. Paleogenetic analyses of Anzick-1's ancient nuclear, Y-chromosome DNA reveal that Anzick-1 is related to modern Native American populations, which lends support to the Beringia hypothesis for the settlement of the Americas.
The Clovis culture was replaced by several more localized regional societies from the Younger Dryas cold-climate period onward. Post-Clovis cultures include the Folsom tradition, Suwannee-Simpson, Plainview-Goshen and Redstone; each of these is thought to derive directly from Clovis, in some cases differing only in the length of the fluting on their projectile points. Although this is held to be the result of normal cultural change through time, numerous other reasons have been suggested as driving forces to explain changes in the archaeological record, such as the Younger Dryas postglacial climate change which exhibited numerous faunal extinctions. After the discovery of several Clovis sites in eastern North America in the 1930s, the Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants who created a widespread culture in the New World. However, this theory has been challenged, in the opinion of many archaeologists, by several archaeological discoveries, including sites such as Cactus Hill in Virginia, Paisley Caves in the Summer Lake Basin of Oregon, the Topper site in Allendale County, South Carolina, Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Pennsylvania, the Friedkin site in Texas, Cueva Fell in Chile, Monte Verde in Chile.
The oldest claimed human archaeological site in the Americas is the Pedra Furada hearths, a site in Brazil that precedes the Clovis culture and the other sites mentioned by 19,000 to 30,000 years. This claim has become an issue of contention between North American archaeologists and their South American and European counterparts, who disagree on whether it is conclusively proven to be an older human site. A hallmark of the toolkit associated with the Clovis culture is the distinctively shaped, fluted-stone spear point, known as the Clovis point; the Clovis point is bifacial and fluted on both sides. Archaeologists do not agree on whether the widespread presence of these artifacts indicates the proliferation of a single people, or the adoption of a superior technology by diverse population groups; the culture is named after artifacts found between 1936 at Blackwater Locality No. 1, an archaeological site between the towns of Clovis and Portales, New Mexico. These finds were deemed important due to their direct association with mammoth species and the extinct Bison antiquus.
The in situ finds of 1936 and 1937 included most of four stone Clovis points, two long bone points with impact damage, stone blades, a portion of a Clovis blade core, several cutting tools made on stone flakes. Clovis sites have since been identified throughout much of the contiguous United States, as well as Mexico and Central America, into northern South America. Clovis people are accepted to have hunted mammoths, as well as extinct bison, gomphotheres, tapir, camelops and other smaller animals. More than 125 species of plants and animals are known to have been used by Clovis people in the portion of the Western Hemisphere they inhabited; the oldest Clovis site in North America is believed to be El Fin del Mundo in northwestern Sonora, discovered during a 2007 survey. It features occupation dating around 13,390 calibrated years BP. In 2011, remains of gomphotheres were found; the Aubrey site in Denton County, produced an identical radiocarbon date. The most held perspective on the end of the Clovis culture is that a decline in the availability of megafauna, combined with an overall increase in a less mobile population, led to local differentiation of lithic and cultural traditions across the Americas.
After this time, Clovis-style fluted points were replaced by other fluted-point traditions with an uninterrupted sequence across North and Central America. An continuous cultural adaptation proceeds from the Clovis period through the ensuing Middle and Late Paleoindian periods. Whether the Clovis culture drove the mammoth, other species, to extinction via overhunting – the so-called Pleistocene overkill hypothesis – is still an open, controversial, question, it has been hypothesized that the Clovis culture had its decline in the wake of the Younger Dryas cold phase. This'cold shock', lasting 1500 years, affected many parts of the world, including North America; this appears to have been triggered by a vast amount of meltwater – from Lake Agassiz – emptying into the North Atlantic, disrupting the thermohaline circulation. The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, or Clovis comet hypothesis proposed that a large air burst or earth impact of a comet or comets from outer space initiated the Younger Drya
The Fremont culture or Fremont people is a pre-Columbian archaeological culture which received its name from the Fremont River in the U. S. state of Utah, where the culture's sites were discovered by local indigenous peoples like the Navajo and Ute. In Navajo culture, the pictographs are credited to people; the Fremont River itself is named for an American explorer. It inhabited sites in what is now Utah and parts of Nevada and Colorado from AD 1 to 1301, it was adjacent to contemporaneous with, but distinctly different from the Ancestral Pueblo peoples located to their south. Fremont Indian State Park in the Clear Creek Canyon area in Sevier County Utah contains the biggest Fremont culture site in Utah. Thousand-year-old pit houses and other Fremont artifacts were discovered at Range Creek, Utah. Nearby Nine Mile Canyon has long been known for its large collection of Fremont rock art. Other sites are found in The San Rafael Swell, Capitol Reef National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Zion National Park, Arches National Park.
Scholars do not agree that the Fremont culture represents a single, cohesive group with a common language, ancestry, or way of life, but several aspects of their material culture provides evidence for this concept. First, Fremont culture people grew corn; the culture participated in a continuum of reliable subsistence strategies that no doubt varied from place to place and time to time. This shows up in the archaeological record at most village sites and long term camps as a collection of butchered and discarded bone from deer and rabbits, charred corn cobs with the kernels removed, wild edible plant remains. Other unifying characteristics include the manufacture of expedient gray ware pottery and a signature style of basketry and rock art. Most of the Fremont lived in small single and extended family units comprising villages ranging from two to a dozen pithouse structures, with only a few having been occupied at any one time. Still, exceptions to this rule exist, including an unusually large village in the Parowan Valley of southwestern Utah, the large and extensively excavated village of Five Finger Ridge at the above mentioned Fremont Indian State Park, others, all appearing to be anomalous in that they were either occupied for a long period of time, were occupied by a large number of people, 60 or more at any given moment, or both.
The Fremont are sometimes thought to have begun as a splinter group of the Ancestral Pueblo people, although archaeologists do not agree on this theory. According to archaeologist Dean Snow, Fremont people wore moccasins like their Great Basin ancestors rather than sandals like the Ancestral Puebloans, they were part-time farmers who lived in scattered semi-sedentary farmsteads and small villages, never giving up traditional hunting and gathering for more risky full-time farming. They made pottery, built houses and food storage facilities, raised corn, but overall they must have looked like poor cousins to the major traditions of the Greater Southwest, while at the same time seeming like aspiring copy-cats to the hunter-gatherers still living around them. Snow notes that Fremont culture declined due to changing climate conditions c. 950 CE. The culture moved to the then-marshy areas of northwestern Utah, which sustained them for about 400 years; the Range Creek Canyon site complex is unambiguously identified with the Fremont culture, because of its astonishingly pristine state, promises to bring an immense amount of archaeological insight to this hitherto obscure culture.
According to Snow, the Fremont's eventual fate is unknown, but it is possible that they moved into Idaho and Kansas, may have become part of the Dismal River culture to the east or the Ancestral Pueblo communities to the south or absorbed by the arriving Numic-speaking peoples. Cañon Pintado, a Fremont culture site in Colorado List of dwellings of Pueblo peoples Nine Mile Canyon Rochester Rock Art Panel National Park Service CP-Lunha site Snow, Dean R.. Archaeology of Native North America. Prentice Hall. Pp. 269–270. ISBN 0-13-615686-X. Traces of Fremont: Society and Rock Art in Ancient Utah. Text by Steven R. Simms, photographs by Francois Gohier. ISBN 978-1-60781-011-7 Snow, Dean R.. Archaeology of Native North America. Prentice Hall. Pp. 269–270. ISBN 0-13-615686-X. "Fremont culture, on season 15, episode 8". Scientific American Frontiers. Chedd-Angier Production Company. 2005. PBS. Archived from the original on 2006
The Pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continent, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period. While the phrase "pre-Columbian era" refers only to the time preceding Christopher Columbus's voyages of 1492, in practice the phrase is used to denote the entire history of indigenous Americas cultures until those cultures were exterminated, diminished, or extensively altered by Europeans if this happened decades or centuries after Columbus's first landing. For this reason the alternative terms of Precontact Americas, Pre-Colonial Americas or Prehistoric Americas are in use. In areas of Latin America the term used is Pre-Hispanic. Many pre-Columbian civilizations established hallmarks which included permanent settlements, agriculture and monumental architecture, major earthworks, complex societal hierarchies.
Some of these civilizations had long faded by the time of the first permanent European colonies and the arrival of enslaved Africans, are known only through archaeological investigations and oral history. Other civilizations were contemporary with the colonial period and were described in European historical accounts of the time. A few, such as the Maya civilization, had their own written records; because many Christian Europeans of the time viewed such texts as heretical, men like Diego de Landa destroyed many texts in pyres while seeking to preserve native histories. Only a few hidden documents have survived in their original languages, while others were transcribed or dictated into Spanish, giving modern historians glimpses of ancient culture and knowledge. Indigenous American cultures continue to evolve after the pre-Columbian era. Many of these peoples and their descendants continue traditional practices while evolving and adapting new cultural practices and technologies into their lives.
Before the development of archaeology in the 19th century, historians of the pre-Columbian period interpreted the records of the European conquerors and the accounts of early European travelers and antiquaries. It was not until the nineteenth century that the work of men such as John Lloyd Stephens, Eduard Seler and Alfred P. Maudslay, of institutions such as the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Harvard University, led to the reconsideration and criticism of the European sources. Now, the scholarly study of pre-Columbian cultures is most based on scientific and multidisciplinary methodologies. Asian nomads are thought to have entered the Americas via the Bering Land Bridge, now the Bering Strait and along the coast. Genetic evidence found in Amerindians' maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA supports the theory of multiple genetic populations migrating from Asia. Over the course of millennia, Paleo-Indians spread throughout South America; when the first group of people migrated into the Americas is the subject of much debate.
One of the earliest identifiable cultures was the Clovis culture, with sites dating from some 13,000 years ago. However, older sites dating back to 20,000 years ago have been claimed; some genetic studies estimate the colonization of the Americas dates from between 40,000 and 13,000 years ago. The chronology of migration models is divided into two general approaches; the first is the short chronology theory with the first movement beyond Alaska into the Americas occurring no earlier than 14,000–17,000 years ago, followed by successive waves of immigrants. The second belief is the long chronology theory, which proposes that the first group of people entered the hemisphere at a much earlier date 50,000–40,000 years ago or earlier. Artifacts have been found in both North and South America which have been dated to 14,000 years ago, accordingly humans have been proposed to have reached Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America by this time. In that case, the Eskimo peoples would have arrived separately and at a much date no more than 2,000 years ago, moving across the ice from Siberia into Alaska.
The North American climate was unstable. It stabilized by about 10,000 years ago. Within this time frame pertaining to the Archaic Period, numerous archaeological cultures have been identified; the unstable climate led to widespread migration, with early Paleo-Indians soon spreading throughout the Americas, diversifying into many hundreds of culturally distinct tribes. The Paleo-Indians were hunter-gatherers characterized by small, mobile bands consisting of 20 to 50 members of an extended family; these groups moved from place to place as preferred resources were depleted and new supplies were sought. During much of the Paleo-Indian period, bands are thought to have subsisted through hunting now-extinct giant land animals such as mastodon and ancient bison. Paleo-Indian groups carried a variety of tools; these included distinctive projectile points and knives, as well as less distinctive implements used for butchering and hide processing. The vastness of the North American continent, the variety of its climates, vegetation and landforms, led ancient peoples to coalesce into many distinct linguistic and cultural groups.
This is reflected in the oral histories of the indigenous peoples, described by a wide range of traditional creation stories which say that a given people have been living in a certain territory since the creation of the world. Over the course of thousands of years, paleo-Indian