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Archaeological Models and Native American Patterns of Land Use in Central Massachusetts

In southern New England archaeology, prehistoric site location is typically linked to three variables -- terrain, soils, and water in the formula, "flat to low slope, well-drained sandy soil, near water." These variables, in turn, combine with other factors, which include the collection of special resources (e.g., lithic material for tools, clay, seasonal nuts, fruits, and seeds, small fish, game), the pursuit of special tasks, often seasonally determined (e.g., the exploitation of fish runs), and the use of transportation routes (provided by bays, rivers, brooks, and streams). The combination of all these factors provides a framework within which the prehistoric settlement of the Hanscom area, and indeed most of southern New England, can be analyzed, and upon which archaeological site location is predicted.

Undiscovered sites from the Paleoindian and Early Archaic periods are expected around the drained beds of glacial lakes. These sites are generally small, and often represent single episodes or short events involving hunting and gathering, followed by processing of the natural resources. Sites associated with the Middle and Late Archaic periods tend to appear at the edges of upland wetlands, ponds, and streams, and on the banks of rivers. The upland interior sites tend to be small, representing episodes of special activities, with larger, repeatedly used sites appearing next to large wetlands and at fords or rapids in rivers. Beginning with the end of the Late Archaic and continuing through the Late Woodland period, sites then tend to appear more frequently on the coast and the banks of rivers, and especially near river estuaries.

Prehistoric sites are most commonly located on level or gently sloping land (less that 8% slope) that contains sandy, well-drained soils. Sites are most frequently found within 150 m. of water (streams, ponds or wetlands). The prehistoric sites that typically occur near minor streams and wetlands away from rivers are generally small (on the order of 10-20 m. across) and relatively thin (often averaging fewer than 15 artifacts per square meter). Within this general characterization, the variability of these sites is apparently large, and may include spot finds of projectile points or several flakes; single episodes of stone chipping (i.e., densely concentrated debitage within several square meters); single or multiple, moderate-density clusters in which hearths may appear; or combinations of these types. Most, if not all, of these sites near interior wetlands and small streams reflect exploitation of seasonally available resources, and represent short-term occupation by specialized work parties.

Since the early 1970s, New England archaeologists have been building, using, and revising regional models of subsistence-settlement systems, inspired by the seminal work of William Ritchie on Martha's Vineyard (1969) and Dena Dincauze in metropolitan Boston (1974). One of the more classic, often-cited studies is that of Dean Snow (1980:223-232), wherein he presents a model of the Mast Forest Archaic, a widespread cultural adaptation (southern New England and beyond) that began to emerge more than 5,000 years ago in response to the appearance of mature deciduous forest habitats and coastal estuaries. The model is comprised of three critical elements: a settlement pattern of "central-based wandering," a diverse subsistence base founded upon hunting-gathering (or gathering-hunting where shellfish were available) and fishing, and a seasonal round.

In non-coastal regions, this adaptation would be expressed in a regular movement between larger settlements occupied during the warmer months and specialized camps where hunting or nut gathering was undertaken by smaller, supposedly family-based units. In some regions, if local ecologies permitted, the warmer sites would have been occupied year round. Either way, the received model of adaptation assumes that regional patterns were organized around river drainages. The warmer-season or year-round settlements were located along the lower reaches of major streams while the lands further removed -- uplands above the valley floors, between drainages, or along tributaries -- were used primarily on a seasonal or shorter-term basis.

Conventionally, present-day archaeologists would argue that this pattern strongly suggests that the rivers were at the heart of a regionally based subsistence-settlement system (Ritchie 1983). For much or all of the year, native peoples inhabited this central area while also gathering foods and making use of resource locations (lithic outcrops) in the surrounding uplands. In this model, upland sites are therefore expected to be representative of short-term, specialized activities or of stopover camps used for overnight stays (Ritchie 1980:87-88).

The research model and hypotheses summarized are based upon more than two decades of intensive, regionally-based archaeological research in eastern Massachusetts (Dincauze 1974, Hoffman 1985, Kenyon and McDowell 1983, Ritchie 1983). Alternatively, this same pool of knowledge can be used to build a research design that examines the regional landscapes as interacting social networks constituted by a series of Native American communities that persisted within a geographical area or homeland over many generations.

The following section presents a general summary of the archaeological research on Native American societies that inhabited southern New England following the end of the last ice age. The prehistory of eastern North America is divided into three major chronological stages of cultural developments: Paleoindian (12,000-9,000 BP or Before Present), Archaic (9,000-3,000 BP), and Woodland (3,000-500 BP). The Archaic and Woodland periods are further divided into Early, Middle, and Late subperiods. These divisions were devised by Griffin (1952) and later revised (Griffin 1967). Subsequent research and radiocarbon dating has helped to refine the chronology, cultural trends and artifact traditions of sites from these periods.

The Paleoindian (12,000-9,000 BP) and Early Archaic Periods (9,000-8,000 BP)

Paleoindian Period 12-9000 years BP (10-7000 B.C.)


10300 glaciers retreat, microlithic tool use begins, beginning of the Mesolithic period,


10500 Sahara rock art begun, microlithic tool use begun

9500 first pottery in the Sahara

West and South Asia

11000 wheat first harvested in northern Syria, sheep domesticated in Mesopotamia, fully domesticated wheat, barley and pulses in the Fertile Crescent

9000 wheat, barley and pulses cultivated from Anatolia to Pakistan, goat is main domesticated animal, pigs domesticated in southern Anatolia , Catal Huyuk first settled, farming begun on Indian subcontinent, first pottery in the Near East

East Asia and Oceania

12500 earliest known pottery in the world in southern Japan,

11000 early Chinese pottery

9000 agriculture begins in New Guinea with root crops such as taro,

New World

12000 human settlement at the southern tip of South America, northern glaciers retreat 10500 first evidence of the cultivation of grasses, beans, peppers and squash in Peru 10000 earliest burials yet discovered with red ochre

9000 beginning of cultivation in Tehucan Valley of Mexico, manioc cultivation in Amazon

The late Pleistocene geological period witnessed major environmental changes which, in time, impacted the peopling of the Americas, and thus the earliest Native American occupations in the New England area. In the late Pleistocene, New England was covered by a sheet of ice 1.5 km. thick. This ice sheet extended over what is now Long Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. At this time, the sea level was about 100 m. lower than it is at present, because of the enormous amount of water tied up in the glacial ice sheets. Only when the ice sheet began to melt, beginning ca. 15,000 BP, was southern New England habitable; by ca. 13,000 BP the ice sheet had retreated to expose Connecticut, Rhode Island, and southeastern Massachusetts, and by ca. 12,000 BP virtually all of New England was uncovered (Stone and Borns 1986; Braun and Braun 1994:14-15).

During this time, sea levels rose sharply as deglaciation liberated enormous amounts of water, while isostatic rebound of land depressed by the weight of the former ice sheet quickly elevated large regions, especially in Maine. The physical landscape of New England in the terminal Pleistocene period was very different from that of today. The coastline was well seaward of its present position, and the modern coastal configuration was not reached until about 3000 BP, when sea levels were still several meters below that of the present. Deglaciation created large lakes in the Hudson-Champlain drainages and in the Connecticut Valley, and many other smaller bodies of water in Massachusetts (Curran and Dincauze 1977, Dincauze 1974, Koteff 1982, Larsen and Hartshorn 1982, Stone and Pepper 1982). The major lake systems were drained by 12,500 BP, while the smaller bodies of water gradually filled with sediment, leaving marshes, bogs, ponds and small lakes. With progressive deglaciation and rising regional temperatures, vegetation changed relatively quickly, from tundra to spruce parkland (by ca. 9000 BP) to an oak-hemlock association (by 7000 BP); at the same time, general climatic conditions shifted from cool and dry (ca. 11,000 BP) to warmer and moister (ca. 9000 BP) and then warmer and drier again (ca. 8000-5000 BP). The human communities that initially colonized southern New England thus were faced with a rapidly changing landscape, one in which resources were of low density and relatively unpredictable.

This condition resulted in a very generalist adaptation, with emphasis on flexibility, mobility, large and probably loosely defined foraging territories, and maintenance of wide kinship ties (Dincauze 1980; Snow 1980). While subsistence strategies for Paleoindians have not been determined, Snow (1980) has argued that Paleoindian subsistence was focused on migratory big-game animals such as caribou, mammoth and/or mastodon, while exploiting other food resources on a chance-encounter basis. An alternate view by Dincauze (1981) is that the Paleoindians were generalist foragers. One proposed model for this period postulates that glacial lake basins were the focus of occupations; these areas included a mosaic of habitats that provided richer subsistence possibilities than elsewhere in New England (Nicholas 1988). In New England, Paleoindian sites often reflect occupations of the recently drained proglacial lake bottoms and wetlands (Thorbahn 1982, Thorbahn and Cox 1983). Another model proposes the possibility that Paleoindians may have used pioneering or staging areas from where large, more-or-less permanent groups, sent out smaller groups into the newly deglaciated terrain (Dincauze 1993 and 1996). As the physical environment began to stabilize (i.e., changed less quickly and became more predictable), human groups grew less generalized in adaptation and settled into more restricted foraging territories.

Diagnostic artifacts from the Paleoindian period include finely flaked fluted lanceolate points (Clovis and Folsom), with three phases identified based on point styles (Spiess et al. 1998). The nearest well documented Paleoindian site is the Bull Brook site in Ipswich, Massachusetts, which covered an area of about 20 acres (Dincauze 1996). Bull Brook is one of six large Paleoindian non-quarry sites that have been documented in the Northeast. These sites contain the earliest point styles for their respective areas and are believed to date from the eleventh millennium BP (Dincauze 1974, Spiess et al. 1998, Curran 1999). According to the pioneering model advanced by Dincauze (1996:10), these sites may represent marshaling areas for people who had just crossed into new, unoccupied terrain. These sites would be used for the gathering, arranging and allocating of resources and information preparatory to dispersing in smaller groups. Analysis of metric data of fluted point assemblages and raw material sources has added an alternate chronological sequencing of sites reflecting exploration and early colonization of the Northeast (Curran 1999).

Paleoindian artifacts included the fluted points but also a variety of other tools, such as scrapers, presumably for working animal hides, gravers, and bifacial blades. Lithic materials used consisted primarily of fine-quality microcrystalline rock, often from sources more than a hundred miles away from the site of recovery.

Early Archaic 9000-8000 years BP (7-6000 B.C.)


6500 adoption of farming in Balkans signals beginning of European Neolithic age, domesticated cereals, sheep and goat spread from Anatolia, Britain separated as an island by rising sea levels

6200 farming established in the west and central Mediterranean


6500 domesticated native African cattle in the Sahara

6000 first domesticated plants-native millet, sheep, barley and wheat introduced to Egypt from western Asia, first use of microliths in southern Africa

West and South Asia

6500 oldest known textiles in old world from Catal Hayuk, copper smelting begins at Catal Hayuk

6000 first painted pottery, copper and lead smelting

East Asia and Oceania

6000 established farming villages in China, first pottery in mainland southeast Asia, agriculture slowly adopted

New World

6300 first potato cultivation in Peru

The Early Archaic period is still somehow elusive, which has prompted theories as to the possibility that the changes in artifacts used to define this period may represent continuity of Paleoindian populations. Dincauze (1990) used the common term pioneers for Paleoindian and Early Archaic populations (pioneers and late pioneers, respectively). Snow (1980:171) considered that there was continuity from the Paleoindian Period into the Early Archaic Period, with "restricted wandering" of groups within territories during the Early Archaic. As the physical environment began to stabilize (i.e., changed less quickly and became more predictable), evolving into a closed boreal environment dominated by spruce, fir and birch, human groups grew less generalized in adaptation and settled into more restricted foraging territoriesThis same sentence appears on page 45, paragr 1. (Dincauze 1980, Meltzer 1988). Small groups of Early Archaic populations may still have traveled across large areas for most of the year (Braun and Braun 1994). The few sites identified from this period present limitations of our understanding of seasonal movements and group dynamics.

A major change in artifacts from the Early Archaic period is that fluted points were no longer used. Late Paleoindian diagnostic artifacts include Dalton-like points and unfluted Eden lanceolate points; the latter are rare in Eastern Massachusetts, while the former may date into Early Archaic times (Johnson and Mahlstedt 1984). Early Archaic diagnostic points include Bifurcate-Base points and Kirk Stemmed and Kirk Corner-Notched points. Overlapping dates for the late Paleoindian and Early Archaic as well as the small number of Early Archaic sites in the Northeast still challenge this research issue; the latter may reflect low population numbers during the Early Archaic (Salwen 1978), the combined outcome of site destruction and meager or inadequate surveys, or our inability to recognize the entire range of artifact types for the period (Dincauze and Mulholland 1977). Significant use of quartz and a lack of diagnostic points has been noted at one site in southern New England dating from the Early Archaic period (Forrest 2000). Some Early Archaic sites may have been buried or destroyed by rising sea levels or river alluvium (Dincauze and Meyer 1977). Subsequent collections research has found a wider range of sites with bifurcate base points present than previously recognized (Johnson 1984). This may reflect a wider range of food resources being exploited.

Most Early Archaic Period sites have been discovered in southern New England and in coastal areas. These small groups, it appears, did not camp together in larger numbers as did the earlier Paleo-Indians, resulting in fewer recognized sites with sparse evidence of their presence. Sites from the Early Archaic period are perhaps best known in southeastern Massachusetts, especially in the Taunton River drainage (for example, the Titicut and Seaver Farm sites, Dincauze and Mulholland 1977; Double-P site, Thorbahn 1982; the upper Taunton concentration, Taylor 1976). The Titicut site is the largest identified from the Early Archaic period. It has been interpreted as a base camp for several families. A number of Early Archaic sites identified in Massachusetts contained evidence that suggests that small hunting groups returned to camps with seasonal regularity. Deep pit features that may have been used for storage were discovered in the Taunton and Shawsheen River drainages (Simon 1982; Harrison and McCormack 1990, Glover and Doucette 1992). These sites contained stone tools diagnostic of the Early Archaic Period, radiocarbon age determinations, or both. Another site had deep pit features, interpreted as pit houses, with an abundance of charred hazelnut shells (Forrest 2000).

During the Paleoindian and Early Archaic periods, most diagnostic tools in southeastern Massachusetts were made of non-local or exotic stone, a pattern that generally is predominant throughout southern New England. However, it has recently been argued that until more Paleoindian and Early Archaic components are excavated and archaeologists achieve better microscopic identifications of stone types and their origins, this pattern may be an artificial one, reflecting biases in sample size and archaeological recovery history (Moeller 1999:72-73). Locally, the stone-use pattern changed during the Middle Archaic period, when points were almost all made from local or near-local materials and exotic stones were rarely used.

The Middle Archaic Period (8000-6000 BP)

Middle Archaic 8000-6000 years BP (6000-4000 BC)


5200 first farmers of central Europe spread to Netherlands

5000 gold and copper objects made in Balkans

4500 copper smelted in eastern Europe, cattle used as plow animals, first megalithic tombs built in western Europe, earliest known copper mines in Europe,


4100 native rice and sorghum cultivated in Sudan

4000 use of sail in Egypt

West and South Asia

5500 earliest known irrigation system in Mesopotamia

4500 earliest plow marks found in Mesopotamia, agriculture just beginning in Ganges Valley, first use of sail in Mesopotamia

4400 domestication of horses on Eurasian steppes

East Asia and Oceania

5000 wet rice farming on east coast of China, rising sea levels lead to detachment of New Guinea and Tasmania from Australia

New World

5400 herding of camelid species in Peru

5000 first cultivation of maize in Tehuacan Valley Mexico, cultivation of bottle gourd in eastern North America

4000 first pottery in Americas from Amazon basin

Throughout southern New England, human occupation becomes more evident and apparently more complex during the Middle Archaic. In southern New England, a mixed pine-oak forest was established and expanding north by 8500 BP, followed by an oak-hemlock forest in southern New England by about 6000 BP (Dincauze 1976:119). The greater number of sites from this time relate to a presumed increase in population density, while the greater disparity in size and differentiation of individual sites suggests a more complexly ordered social landscape than previously found. Stemmed bifacial points, atlatls (spear-thrower weights), pecked, ground and polished woodworking tools such as axes, adzes and celts, and plant processing tools such as mortars, pestles, grinding stones and nutting stones are new tool forms in use during this time. The cultural traditions of the Middle Archaic complexes, as seen at the Neville site, reveal a close relationship to the Atlantic seaboard (Mid-Atlantic) and piedmont (Southeast) regions during the Middle Archaic period (Dincauze 1976:124).

Dincauze and Mulholland (1977) have suggested that effective integration of seasonally available resources into a single adaptive schedule appeared during this period, while maintenance of territorial boundaries between groups intensified in consequence of this emergent adaptation; this response may have been a consequence of more stable regional environments. The predominant settlement pattern would be one of small sites oriented toward seasonally abundant resources, including spring fish runs. The earliest documented or inferred harvesting of anadromous fish during spring runs up the Connecticut (Thomas 1980) and the Merrimack rivers (e.g., Dincauze 1976, Barber 1980) marks both a fundamental adaptation to foraging possibilities and a seasonal determinant of site location, i.e. spring occupations at rapids, falls and constrictions on larger river courses. Exploitation of anadromous fish would continue throughout the rest of regional prehistory as a principal component of aboriginal economies. On the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in southeastern Connecticut, the Great Cedar Swamp was important in seasonal subsistence rounds during the Neville phase from 8000 to 7000 BP. Several settlement models for New England "suggest that subsistence activities became more intensively focused on the valley floors of the major river drainages with the onset of the Hypsithermal after about 7500 radiocarbon years ago" (Jones 1999:120).

During the Middle Archaic period, there was a wide variety of environmental settings for sites, including the margins of bogs, swamps, rivers, lakes and ponds, with differentiation of sites based on size and apparent function. This may reflect the incipient seasonal rounds or scheduled subsistence activities, possibly related to a growing territoriality within drainage areas (Dincauze and Mulholland 1977). Site types include semipermanent base camps along rivers, streams or wetlands, special-purpose camps in uplands or near wetlands, rock shelters, stone quarries, and workshop areas (Bussey et al. 1992).

Evidence of site differentiation and a more complexly ordered social landscape can be extrapolated on the basis of a number of large Middle Archaic sites containing a variety of features. At the Annasnappet Pond site in the Taunton River drainage, 119 cultural features were identified, while three of nine loci formed a nearly continuous distribution of Middle Archaic and Late Archaic material over nearly 14,000 sq. m. A mortuary feature containing calcined human cranial fragments, winged atlatl weights and Neville points at this site was radiocarbon-dated to 7570 + 150 BP (Cross 1999). It is the only known human burial associated with Neville points in the Northeast. Middle Archaic radiocarbon dates were obtained from nine features, while the overall Middle and Late Archaic assemblage from the site included 70,000 pieces of debitage, 166 Neville points, 31 Neville Variants, 38 Stark points, 4 Merrimack points, cylindrical and winged atlatl weights, ground hematite, bifaces, drills, cores and unifaces (Cross 1999:60-63).

Cross (1999), examining the distinction between the Neville and Stark point types, has demonstrated differences in production technology and functional qualities of Neville and Stark points at the Annasnappet Pond site that imply differences in use (Neville points being used on atlatl darts while Stark points may have used on thrusting spears). Cross posits that, based on the functional and technological differences, the two kinds of bifaces may therefore be contemporary (Cross 1999:72). While Dincauze (1976) has argued for temporal overlap, with Starks becoming more common over time, a closer examination of different temporal contexts in southern New England throughout the entire span of the Middle Archaic may resolve this issue.

Numerous sites containing Middle Archaic stemmed points have been reported along the Shawsheen River and along the Merrimack River. At least five Middle Archaic sites are known to exist within two miles from Hanscom AFB. From one site, 19-MD-86, 21 Neville or Stark points were recovered. The Heath Brook site in Tewksbury had the remains of a Middle Archaic living surface with evidence of tool making and food processing, including evidence for Chenopod consumption (McBride and Dewar 1987:308). Elsewhere, along the Merrimack River, at the Shattuck Farm sit,e some 79 projectile points collected on the site were of Middle Archaic styles, although no Middle Archaic materials were recovered in the archaeological excavations. The location of the main occupation in the central section of the alluvial terrace, based on collectors recollections, suggested that the site was used as a base camp during much of the Middle Archaic, with a possible shift near the end of that period (Luedtke 1985:288).

The Late Archaic Period (6000-3000 BP)

Late Archaic 6000-3000 years BP (4000-1000 BC)


3800 ditched enclosed villages in western Europe

3500 new farming practices with animals used for traction, wool and milk, simple plow now in use

3200 first wheeled vehicles in Europe, circles of megaliths first constructed in Europe

3000 construction of walled citadels in Mediterranean Europe

2300 beginning of Bronze Age

2000 main building phase at Stonehenge, creation of city states of Minoan Crete

1900 Hieroglyphic writing on Crete

1650 Linear A script in use on Crete and the Cyclades

1550 Beginning of Mycenean Period in Greece

1450 Myceneans invade Crete

1400 Linear B script in use in Greece

1150 collapse of Mycenean Greece

1085 fall of the New Kingdom of Egypt

1000 Hillforts in western Europe, iron industry in Aegean and Central Europe


3400 first walled towns in Egypt

3100 emergence of new Egyptian state, capital at Memphis

3000 first evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphics

2700 beginning of Egyptian Old Kingdom

2650 first pyramid at Saqqara

2600 earliest true pyramid, Maidum, Egypt

2530 Great Pyramid at Giza constructed

2500 Sahara becoming a desert

2150 collapse of Egyptian Old Kingdom

2040 Establishment of Egyptian Middle Kingdom

1800 introduction of horse to Egypt

1783 fall of Middle Kingdom of Egypt

1570 rise of New Kingdom in Egypt, Valley of the Kings now in use

1337 Tutankamun buried in Valley of the Kings

1166 death of Ramses III last great pharaoh of Egypt

West and South Asia

3650 earliest vehicle burials in world (southern Russia)

3500 development of first urban civilization in world at Sumer southern Mesopotamia

3250 earliest writing in world from Mesopotamia

3100 cuneiform script used in Mesopotamia

2600 use of plow in Indus Valley

2500 earliest known woven clothe found at Mohenjo-Daro

2500 emergence of city states in northern Mesopotamia, royal graves of Ur and Sumer filled, use of four wheeled war-wagon in Mesopotamia

2000 collapse of Indus civilization

1850 horses used for first time to pull light carts on western Steppes

1800 two wheeled war chariot developed in Near East

1650 Hittite Empire formed from city-states of central Anatolia

1595 Hittites sack Babylon

1400 first alphabets developed in Sinai and Levant

1200 collapse of Hittite Empire

1000 Phoenicians become main maritime trading power of Levant, Phoenician alphabet developed, emergence of kingdom of Israel with capital at Jerusalem

East Asia and Oceania

3500 increasing social stratification in China

3000 possible plowshares in China, first evidence of agriculture in Korea, dingo introduced in Australia

2700 silk weaving in China, first Chinese bronzes produced

2500 production of wheel-thrown pottery in China, first domesticated animals and pottery on islands of Southeast Asia

1800 emergence of Shang civilization in northeast China

1500 wet rice cultivation in Korea

1400 first written inscriptions in China

1027 Chou dynasty replaces Shang

New World

3500 in Peru llamas used as domestic pack animals, cultivation of cotton in Peru

3200 maize first cultivated in South America

2800 villages in Amazonia based on horticulture

2600 large temple mounds in Peru

2500 loom weaving, ground and polished stone tools and simple irrigation in Peru

2300 earliest ceramics in Mesoamerica

2000 earliest ceramics in Peruvian Andes, Arctic Small Tool tradition (early Inuit culture) found from Siberia to Greenland

1500 first metal working in Peru

1200 Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica

1000 beginning of Adena culture in eastern woodlands of North America

Many attributes of this period are well rooted in the Middle Archaic, but become much more evident in the Late Archaic. In some regions outside New England, the period is characterized by a shift to reliance on proto-cultigens or intensive gathering, perhaps precipitated by environmental changes. In southern New England, however, no one has yet identified cultivated or domesticated plants in a context earlier than the Woodland period. In the Southeast, in the Savannah River area of Georgia and South Carolina and in northeast Florida, the emergence of pottery has been dated as far back as 4500 BP (Sassaman 1999). In the Northeast pottery did not come into use until around 3200 BP, although soapstone vessels were in use during the latter part of the Late Archaic into the Early Woodland, from about 3700 to 2400 BP (Sassaman 1999).

Another marker of the period is the proliferation of archaeological tool traditions and phases: Laurentian (Brewerton), Narrow Point (Small-Stemmed), and Broadpoint or Susquehanna A fourth tradition, the Maritime Archaic, is found primarily in coastal areas of northern New England, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Labrador. These Late Archaic traditions have been long-standing topics of discussion on their relationship to each other and their social and adaptational placement in southern New England prehistory (Ritchie 1971; Dincauze 1975). Each of these artifact assemblages has identifiable antecedents, originating mostly in the Middle Archaic (Cross 1996:48). Dincauze associates the Laurentian Tradition with the west, in the Great Lakes and Ohio River drainages, rather than the Atlantic drainage (Dincauze 1976:125). Pfeiffer (1990:85-104) has argued that the Late Archaic Laurentian tradition, or Lake Forest adaptation, of southern New England was the progenitor of both the Susquehanna tradition, or River Plain adaptation, and the Narrow Point tradition, or Mast Forest adaptation. These adaptations were coexistent, and may have vied for territory (Pfeiffer 1990: 85). The Narrow Point appears to have been a local development not derived from outside the region (Dincauze 1976).

Debate about the Late Archaic Period centers on what the observed relationships of the tools mean in terms of the people behind them. Some of the tools co-occur at sites sequentially, others contemporaneously. The orthodox view is that correctly tying an artifact assemblage to one of these traditions allows an archaeologist to infer an adaptation category, including subsistence adaptation and possibly a belief system. Susquehanna Broad-like projectile points (Johnson and Mahlstedt 1984) or Wayland Notched (Hoffman 1991:20) have, in some cases, also been associated with mortuary sites (Dincauze 1968; Hoffman 1991:20). Stone-tool production may have been undertaken by a small group of experienced, older artisans whose skills and knowledge were respected and called upon. The lithic assemblages of such artisans would look very much the same and exhibit fewer signs of accidental breakage. There may also have been specific spaces set aside for use by such artisans in some settlements. (Cross 1990 has an in-depth discussion of such possibilities in New England.)

The Late Archaic is the most visible period of Massachusetts prehistory, in terms both of numbers of sites and of typological attribution of materials. Even allowing for the chronological ambiguity of Small Stemmed points (cf. Mahlstedt 1987 and American Antiquity 1981:696), Late Archaic patterns in Massachusetts indicate unprecedented population density, with communities well settled into narrow foraging territories defined by drainages, and highly specialized to the habitats within these drainages. Confined to these territories, extractive activities were seasonally adjusted to meet the opportunities of the annual cycle. Sites were located in a wide variety of topographic situations -- river banks; margins of lakes, ponds, bogs and springs; around meadow lands; in rock shelters, at quarries; and along the coastline. The differentiation of site sizes suggests use of a radiating, seasonally-dynamic settlement pattern (Dincauze 1974, 1975, 1980; Thorbahn and Cox 1983). Although some technological innovations (e.g., stone bowl) are apparent in this period, and some long-distance exchange of materials occurred, emphasis seems to have been placed increasingly on locally available raw materials for chipped-stone tools, often distributed within river drainages.

The settlement pattern of human communities during this period is best viewed as a response to establishment of the temperate forest in which resources are heterogeneous but relatively stable and predictable. This period was marked by a progressive drying and warming trend, beginning perhaps ca. 6000 BP and peaking at ca. 4000-3000 BP. In southeastern Massachusetts, the water table was significantly lower and surface water flow was reduced, leading to a disappearance of all but the largest bodies of water (Thorbahn 1982). The latter changes may have been the result not of drought, but rather of local geomorphic changes causing lowered stream flow (Simon 1991:69). These climatic trends, if regional in scale, would intensify the association between human communities and water, particularly in summer. As present-day sea levels were approached, shorelines stabilized and extensive shellfish beds developed, while anadromous fish populations may have benefitted from the expanded continental shelf (Luedtke 1985:289). Extensive fish weirs at the Boylston Street Fish Weir site in Boston reveal intensive estuarine exploitation of fish populations by Late Archaic peoples (Johnson et al. 1942, Johnson 1949).

Around 4600 BP (Webb 1982:570), there was a dramatic decline in hemlock pollen, which is attributed by Davis (1981) to an as-yet unidentified insect predator and/or disease rather than climate. Hemlock is today a very competitive species in the region, the loss of which caused what appears to be a long-term increase in species diversity. At approximately this time oak, white pine, and hickory increased dramatically throughout the region, while chestnut appeared. This combination of events (added to warm temperatures) would have created a very suitable environment for aboriginal populations (Mulholland 1984:335). Oak and to some extent white pine provide food for game animals like deer and turkeys while hickory and chestnut provide food for both game animals and humans. At Kampoosa Bog in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, this environmental change coincided with evidence that people began visiting the bog more often and in greater numbers. There was also evidence to suggest that the people used fire to improve and maintain the natural abundance of important plants and animals in the area (Johnson 1996:22; Johnson et al. 1994).

The pattern of a riverine-uplands subsistence settlement system apparently emerged during the Middle Holocene, between 6000 and 5000 BP, when the climax oak-hickory forest had matured and population levels increased, leading to regional Late Archaic strategies of extensive and intensive resource exploitation (Dincauze 1974, 1990). In the Sudbury-Assabet region, the number and diversity of Late Archaic sites, and their distribution in riverine and inter-riverine, upland settings suggest a "broad-base [collecting, see Binford 1980] approach to resource use and considerable attention to small scale environmental features," including "bogs and kettle-hole swamps" (Ritchie 1983:89). Duncan Ritchie's earlier work (1980:87-88,1983) indicated that patterns of upland use became more intensive about 4,500 years ago; more activities were now taking place there, and some localities began to be re-used time and again. Evidently, these shifts were shaped by ongoing environmental histories in that, as the region's deciduous forest ecosystems became more varied and productive, longer settlement stays became possible (Ritchie 1983:89-91).

Research by Curtiss Hoffman (1985) has both clarified and complicated this history, suggesting that the process of diversifying and intensifying land and resource use increases measurably in many southern New England regions between 5000+ and 2700 BP. In these regions, some landscapes became a locus for year-round settlement and resource exploitation in the Middle Holocene, a pattern seen in some coastal settings (Bernstein 1990 and 1993, Handsman 1995) and along major rivers (Handsman 1991a and b). Studies of local collections and excavations around the Cedar Swamp Wetland System demonstrate that some parts of the Sudbury-Assabet uplands contain extensive and diverse complexes of Late Archaic sites where Native peoples hunted deer, collected and processed hickory nuts and aquatic plants, and fished. Sites are so numerous and sometimes so often reused that Hoffman is certain that the archaeological record between 4500 and 4000 BP (and for some time after) represents a "climax" of extensive, year-round occupation by sedentary groups of hunter-gatherers (1990:110-149).

Late Archaic cemetery sites also suggest that native communities were well established within upland areas. The Mansion Inn and Vincent sites, both located in the uplands above the Sudbury River, are cremation cemeteries about 3,500 years old. Habitation areas do not seem to be directly associated with either site. At each, assemblages of burned artifacts, cremated human remains, and burned wood and reddened earth (both from the nearby crematories) were deposited into shallow pits. Some pits were used only once while others were the locus of multiple reburials. Typically, the artifacts in the pits included a full range of household and subsistence technologies such as wood- and hide-working tools, projectile points and knives, pestles, and hammer stones. Less abundant were single specimens or sets of finely flaked bifaces, known as Mansion Inn blades (Dincauze 1968:16-17, 48, 64-66). Native peoples periodically gathered at these localities to conduct ceremonies of cremation and renewal in which bones of the dead were intermingled with the artifacts of the living, then burned, and finally returned to the earth. At Mansion Inn, the archaeological data indicate "the cemetery was used repeatedly through a fairly long span of time" (Dincauze 1968:66), leading one to infer that the surrounding region was home to generations of native people.

Nearly all Late Archaic point types are present in collections from Shattuck Farm. Small Stemmed and Small Triangle points constitute the vast majority of points, while the primary area of occupation was the alluvial terrace (Luedtke 1985:290-291). This is cited as evidence for a base camp due to the site location and diversity of artifact types reflecting a wider range of activities at the site. Fosters Pond produced sites with similar qualities, also suggestive of base camps (Bullen 1949). At Shattuck Farm, bird bones, nutshells, and beaver bone suggest a fall occupation, while fish bone may be from spring or fall species. A spring through fall occupation is suggested by the presence of snake and turtle bone from Late Archaic contexts. The presence of turtle remains suggests that the marsh there was in existence by Late Archaic times and there after. Late Archaic contexts from Shattuck Farm and Bullens sites have considerable evidence of food processing activities but little evidence of storage, which in turn suggests a foraging adaptation (Luedtke 1985:293). Features present at these sites included several small refuse pits and rock platforms. Ground-stone tools were associated with Late Archaic contexts, as seen in the Shawsheen valley by Bullen (1949). This is interpreted as a focus on heavy woodworking that is stronger at this time than later on, possibly indicating a shift from making dugouts to birchbark canoes during the Woodland periods (Luedtke 1985:291).

Bullens work at Fosters Pond investigated a number of sites from the terminal or later Late Archaic period and included a possible cache of large, stemmed points from the Atlantic phase at one site (1949:60). Susquehanna tradition points were associated with "storage pits" and rock platforms at the Hoffman site (Bullen 1949:21). Luedtke (1985:294) suggests that changes in site location at Shattuck Farm following the Late Archaic period may have begun during the later Late Archaic, and were possibly related to a shift from a foraging to a collecting strategy, as suggested by Thorbahn (1982) for the Taunton River area. If the pits identified by Bullen were used for food storage at the Hoffman site, then intensified collecting for the purposes of food storage may date to the later Late Archaic, prior to the earliest documented use of pottery in the area. Chenopod consumption appears with the Middle Archaic (e.g., at the Heath Brook Site in Tewksbury), and storage of chenopod is evident by the end of the Late Archaic (McBride and Dewar 1987:308). Archaeological work on a Late Archaic site in Westfield (19-HD-109) documented several grass-lined storage pits that contained Chenopodium seeds (Hasenstab et al. 1990). These plant remains were (apparently) morphologically wild, and reflected collection rather than cultivation

The Woodland Period (500 BP)

The Woodland is traditionally divided into Early (3000-1700 BP), Middle (1700-1200 BP) and Late (1200-500 BP) periods, defined by changing artifact types. For the present purpose, these three periods may be jointly considered.

This period is marked by basic technological and economic changes, notably the production and use of pottery and a gradual shift to food production (maize, beans, squash, sunflower and other vegetables). The latter trend is documented by ca. 1100 BP on Martha's Vineyard (Ritchie 1969) but perhaps began by ca. 2000 BP (Thorbahn 1982). Within Massachusetts generally, the Woodland periods are best known in the coastal regions and in the Connecticut River Valley. In both cases, this higher visibility may be ascribed to local opportunities for increasing sedentism and larger communities, in the former area due to a combination of horticulture with rich marine resources and in the latter area to large expanses of soils well suited to horticulture in combination with rich fishing, harvesting and other terrestrial resources. Dincauze has argued (1974:49-50) a regional demographic collapse and a shift during the Terminal Archaic to coastal settings, thus largely depopulating interior upland regions, perhaps in response to cooler and wetter conditions that then prevailed (cf. Barber 1979:230-32). From this presumed demographic low point, populations grew in size and density through the Woodland, culminating in the Late Woodland. This model of demographic collapse and gradual recovery must be regarded as unproven. Survey information from southeastern Massachusetts shows no decline in numbers of sites during the Early Woodland (Thorbahn 1982), and comparable patterns are evident in other parts of Massachusetts. In any event, the Late Woodland represents the regional demographic peak prior to European contact, a florescence that may be regarded as the structural implication of increasing food production, sedentism, and population agglomeration, together with reconstitution of divisions of labor, notions of property, rules of distribution, and integrating seasonal rounds.

The Early Woodland Period (ca. 3000 to 1700 BP)

Early Woodland 3000-1700 years BP (1000 BC-300 AD)


900 end of Greek Dark Age

850 first settlement at Rome on Palatine Hill

800 establishment of Celtic culture north and east of Alps

800 rise of Estrucan city-states in central Italy

750 first Greek alphabetic inscription, iron working spread to Britain, earliest Greek colonies from Western Mediterranean to eastern shores of Black Sea

700 beginning of Archaic period in Greece

690 Estrucan script developed from Greek

600 Latin script begun, Rome becomes an urban center, first Greek coins

480 second stage of the European Iron Age, emergence of the classical Period in Greek art

450 Athens reaches its peak as center of Greek empire

432 completion of the Parthenon in Athens

400 Celtic settlement in northern Italy

390 Celts sack Rome

380 Building of Servian Wall around Rome

300 appearance of Celtic coins

250 Rome controls Penninsular Italy

206 Rome gains control of Spain

200 first use of concrete in Rome

146 Rome destroys the Greek states

100 development of oppida in western Europe (large fortified settlements with houses, craft workshops and storehouses)

46 introduction of Julian Calendar

27 Augustus sole ruler of Roman Empire

50 Rome largest city in the world with a population of 1 million

79 Pompeii and Herculaneum buried by Mount Vesuvius eruption

100 Roman army consists of 300,000 soldiers and reaches its peak

117 Roman Empire reaches its greatest extent

125 building of Hadrians Wall in northern Britain

130 Pantheon in Rome built by Hadrian

275 defensive wall built around Rome

285 administrative separation between eastern and western halves of Roman Empire

300 large scale iron production in northern Europe


900 foundation of the kingdom of Kush

750 earliest evidence of Phoenician settlement at Carthage

600 Nubian capital moved to Meroe

500 first copper smelting in sub-Sahara Africa

500 Darius I completes a canal connecting the Nile and the Red Sea

450 earliest known iron metallurgy in sub-Saharan Africa

400 Carthage dominated western Mediterranean

331 foundation of Alexandria

146 Roman destruction of Carthage

100 Camel introduced into Saharan Africa

46 foundation of Roman colony of Carthage

West and South Asia

950 founding of Assyrian Empire

880 capital of Asyria moved to Nimrud

800 rise of city states in Ganges Valley based on rice farming

722 Israel absorbed into Assyria

705 capital of Assyria moved to Ninevah

700 rise of the Sythians in the Steppes

650 first coins used in Lydia

612 fall of the Assyrian Empire

600 use of elephant in warfare in India

563 birth of Siddhartha Gautama, founder of Buddhism in northern India

550 Zoroastrianism becomes religion of Persia

460 parchment replaced clay tablets for recording information

334-329 Alexander the Great invades Asia Minor, conquers Egypt and Persia and reaches India, Hellenism established in Asia

250 appearance of earliest Buddhist monuments in India

240 beginning of the Parthian dynasty in Persia

100 rock cut city of Petra reaches apogee

53 Parthians halt eastern expansion of Rome

50 first images of Buddah appear

60 rise of Kushan Empire

116 Roman conquest of Mesopotamia

132 failure of Jewish rebellion against Rome led to the diaspora (dispersal of Jewish) from Judaea

200 cities first appear on Deccan Plateau, India

226 Sasanians defeat Parthians and found Sassanian Empire

East Asia and Oceania

770 beginning of the Eastern Chou Dynasty in China

550 first significant iron production in China

500 beginning of coinage in China, wet rice agriculture in Japan, production of bronze Dong Son drums in northern Vietnam

403 warring states period in China

400 iron working introduced into Korea

350 crossbow invented in China

250 first urban sites in mainland South-East Asia with walls or moats

221 unification of China by Chin dynasty, Great Wall built

210 Emperor Shih Huang-ti interred in huge mausoleum with terra cotta army

206 ascension of Han Dynasty in China

200 probable use of water buffalo as draught animals in South-East Asia

108 China takes control of Korea

100 spread of Indian religion to South-East Asia

50 Chinese silk trade with Romans

100 first metallurgy on islands of South-East Asia

105 paper comes into use in China

150 Buddhism reaches China

200 decline of Han China

220 collapse of Han Dynasty, China divided into 3 independent states

271 magnetic compass in use in China

300 spread of wet rice cultivation whole of Japan except Hokkaido

New World

900 beginning of the Chavin civilization of the Andes

800 first writing in the Americas by the Zapotec, introduction of maize cultivation to the Amazon flood plain

500 early hieroglyphics from Monte Alban, Oaxaca

400 florescence of Chavin culture in Peru

310 Hopewell culture in eastern woodlands of North America

300 typical features of Maya civilization established

200 rise of Nazca civilization in Peru, Nazca lines made

1 Moche dominate north Peruvian coast, Basketmaker II phase in North American Southwest, emergence of complex cultures of North Pacific

50 city of Teotihuacan, central Mexico, laid out, contraction of the Pyramid of the Sun

300 Classical Period of Maya civilization

The shift from the Late Archaic period to the Early Woodland period includes several changes on which archaeologists generally agree. These changes consist of the introduction of ceramics, the formation of stable estuaries with tidal flats (Cross 1996:5-6), an apparent increase in the amount of exotic raw materials used (such as non-local chert, red ochre, and copper, especially in mortuary contexts), and an inferred increase in formalized trade and communication. Some influences of the Adena culture to the west have been noted in artifact types from the period.

Archaeological work in the last 20 years has also changed the proposed reconstructions of Early Woodland subsistence and settlement patterns. In a symposium presented at the Northeastern Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in 1983, "Early Woodland in New England," seven archaeologists (Russell Barber, Stephen Loring, Tom Mahlstedt, Eric Johnson, Kevin McBride, Elena Filios, and James Petersen) found little evidence of a population decline and pointed out the presence of interior sites during this period. In addition, Loring (1985) found continuity of subsistence patterns from the Late Archaic, with little more change than the grafting of long-distance trade onto existing developments, such as a tendency to increasing sedentism, evident in the Late Archaic period. Loring (1985) found no compelling evidence for hierarchy or status differentiation in mortuary remains. Petersen described what might be regional variations in fabric and cordage technology during the period (see Petersen and Hamilton 1984). The papers addressed biases in recognition of artifact assemblages as Early Woodland and the inherent bias in the definition of a much longer Late Archaic than Early Woodland period.

Archaeologists have improved their ability to recognize habitation assemblages of the Early Woodland period, as Shaw (1996a:67-79) points out. Thicker side-notched bifaces, lobate-stemmed Adena, rare Fulton Turkey Tail, Small Stemmed and Orient Fishtail points, and modified Vinette I ceramics are consistently reported from Early Woodland contexts, in addition to classic Meadowood and Rossville projectile points, cache blades, and the thick, grit-tempered, cord-marked Vinette I ceramics. It is clear that prehistoric peoples used some tools for much longer than just one period. Small Stemmed points, for instance, are associated with both the Late Archaic and Early Woodland periods. They may also have been in use in the Middle Woodland. Rossville points occur in Middle Woodland contexts, and perhaps Late Woodland (Fig 3-15).

The Middle Woodland Period (ca. 1700-1000 BP)

Middle Woodland 1700-1200 years BP (300-800 AD)


313 Christianity granted toleration in Roman Empire with the Edict of Milan

330 Constantine founds new eastern capital of Roman Empire at Constantinople

410 sack of Rome by Visgoths leading to collapse of western Roman Empire

449 Angles, Saxons and Jutes begin invasion of Britain

500 economic and urban decline throughout old Roman and Greek worlds, Germanic people move eastward and settle in eastern Britain and parts of France

532 St. Sophias built in Constantinople

542 bubonic plague in Europe

610 ascension of Roman Emperor Heraclius begins Hellinism of eastern Roman Empire, now known as Byzantine Empire

625 Sutton Hoo ship burial in Suffolk England

680 Bulgars invade Balkans

711 Muslims invade Spain

717 unsuccessful Muslim attack on Constatinople

787 first record of a Viking raid

800 Romanesque style of architecture develops in Frankish Empire, Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor


325 Axum destroys kingdom of Meroe

400 first towns in sub-Saharan Africa

429 Germanic kingdom in North Africa

500 arrival of Bantu in southern Africa

600 ancient kingdom of Ghana, first known state in West Africa, founded

641 Arabs conquer Egypt and spread into North Africa

750 great increase in trans-Saharan trade between Muslim North Africa and West African savanna

West and South Asia

475 Wall paintings in Buddhist cave temples at Ajanta

622 Hegira of Mohammed, beginning of the Muslim era

636-7 Arabs overrun Syria and Iraq

661 Islamic power cover one-third of Old World

750 Muslims control trade from Red Sea to China

751 paper making spreads from China to Muslim world

766 foundation of Baghdad as Abbasid capital

East Asia and Oceania

304 Hsiung-nu (Huns) invade China

350 invention of stirrup in China

550 Buddhasim arrives in Japan from Korea

589 China temporarily unified by Sui dynasty

618 Tang Dynasty unifies China

645 Buddhasim reaches Tibet

650 all major island groups of Polynesia except New Zealand settled

710 beginning of Nara period in Japan

New World

500 Teotihuacan sixth largest city in world with a population of 200,000

600 city of Tiahuananco highest city in Andes population 35,000

700 domination of American Southwest by Hohokam, Mogollan and Anasazi, temple mounds of Mississippi such as Cahokia built, rebuilding of Maya city of Tikal, Peru dominated by Chimu

750 sacred cenote of Chichen Itza in use for next 1000 years

800 first use of bow and arrow in Mississippi Valley, beginning of Dorset culture in Greenland

This period is marked by a decrease in the number of exotic finished goods indicative of long-distance trade, and by changes in mortuary practice (increase in secondary interments, less use of ocher, fewer grave goods, more variation in preparation of the dead). While the roots of ceramic and lithic variability are found in the preceding periods, more rapid variation in sequence through time and more regional variation characterize this period. Ceramics vary more in decoration and form. Lithic projectile points are less important in the tool kit, and bone and antler tools are preserved at some sites where matrix conditions are appropriate (Shaw 1996b:84-87). By the end of the period there is evidence of maize horticulture (Thorbahn 1982).

There is overlap in the dates of ceramic types formerly considered diagnostic of the Early and Middle Woodland. Some Vinette I ceramics date to the first few centuries of the new period. The new Middle Woodland ceramics are cord-impressed, fabric-impressed, or smoothed in Southern New England. Most are decorated with dentate or cord-wrapped-stick impressions. Scallop-shell impressed or pseudo-scallop-shell impressed ceramics are recovered more commonly in northern New England (Shaw 1996b:90). Decoration may be found only around the rim or shoulder. These designs are often applied in a rocker fashion, or in vertical or horizontal zones. Undecorated fabric-paddled pieces with smoothed interiors also occur.

Fox Creek and Steubenville bifaces characterize this part of the period (Moore 1997). There is some overlap in time between the Fox Creek and Jack's Reef points during this part of the Middle Woodland. Jack's Reef points continue to be used into the Late Woodland. Exotic lithic materials increase in the Middle Woodland, except in the Champlain drainage. Jack's Reef points are often made of non-local chert (Shaw 1996b:92-93). Some lithic tool types, such as Rossville (Shaw 1996b:90) and Small Stemmed (Hasenstab et al. 1990) continue into the Middle Woodland.

Late Middle Woodland ceramics include types that continue in the Late Woodland, such as the cord-wrapped-stick impressed type. Temper can include shell. Smoothed surfaces are more common. Projectile points now include concave-base triangular points, often made of local materials. These points also continue into the Late Woodland period (Shaw 1996c:93).

Settlement and subsistence are similar to the those of Early Woodland period, but sedentism increases. Stays at large sites along waterways increase in duration, while upland areas are used short-term for procurement. Long-distance communication and exchange appear to shut down by the end of the period. Middle Woodland sites in coastal areas and New York have produced house remains. Middle Woodland sites tend to have more pit features, which vary greatly in shape and size, and have frequently been dug out and reused for trash (Shaw 1996b:94-100).

Research issues for the period are similar to those of the Early Woodland period, from which it is divided only by arbitrary artifact-style boundaries. These issues include explanation of the quick adoption of ceramic styles, the role of exchange networks, and the description of the behavior behind increasing regional style variation in artifacts (Shaw 1996b:100).

The Late Woodland Period (1000-500 BP)

Late Woodland 1200-400 years BP (800-1600 AD)


863 creation of Cyrillic alphabet

882 Swedish Vikings establish Kiev in Russia

972 Hungarian state founded

983 beginning of German eastward expansion

1066 Norman conquest of England

1100 first universities in Christian Europe

1150 Gothic architecture begins, paper making spreads from Muslim world

1236-41 Mongols invade Russia, Poland, Hungary and Bohemia

1261 Greek empire restored in Constantinople

1275 Marco Polo reaches China

1309 Papacy moves from Rome to Avignon

1348 Black Death from Asia ravages Europe

1445 Gutenberg prints first book in Europe

1453 Byzantine Empire falls to Ottoman Turks

1492 fall of Grenada Arabs and Jewish expelled from Spain

1509 watch invented by Peter Henle

1525 introduction of potato from South America

1581 Yemek begins Russian conquest of Siberia

1588 wreck of Spanish Armada

1602 formation of Dutch East India Company


900 Arab merchants settle on East Africa coast

969 Fatimids seize Egypt and found Cairo

1200 rise of Mali in West Africa

1250 Great Zimbabwe founded

1400 manufacture of bronze heads in Benin, southern Nigeria

1415 beginning of Portuguese African empire

1492 Spanish begin conquest of North Africa

1505 Portuguese establish trading post in East Africa

1520 beginning of slave trade from West Africa to New World

1546 destruction of Mali empire

1591 Moroccans destroy Songhai empire

West and South Asia

850 great mosque of al-Mutawakki, largest mosque built, built in Samarra

892 Abbasids revert to Bagdhad as capital

900 much Hindu temple construction

1096 First Crusdade Franks invade Anatolia and Syria and found Crusader states

1175 foundation of first Muslim empire in India

1258 Mongols sack Bagdhad

1299 Ottoman Turks expansion into Anatolia

1380 Timur begins conquest of Central Asia

1516-17 Ottomans overrun Syria, Egypt and Arabia

1550 Ottoman Empire expands to include Asia Minor, Egypt, Levant and southeast Europe

1600 Ottoman, Mughal, Safavid empires at height

East Asia and Oceania

850 settlement of New Zealand by Polynesians (ancestors of maori)

868 Diamond Sutra made, worlds first printed book

907 end of Tang Dynasty

979 Sung dynasty takes power in China

1000 carving and erection of Easter Island statues

1050 printing with movable type invented in China

1150 construction of Ankor Wat in Angkor Cambodia

1161 Chinese invention of gunpowder

1180 Ankor empire at greatest extent

1200 rise of Polynesian chiefdoms

1206 Mongols under Ghengis Khan begin conquest of Asia

1220 emergence of Thai kingdom

1300 New Zealand Maori hunt giant moa to extinction

1341 Black Death starts in Asia

1350 classical Maori period begins

1368 establishment of Ming Dynasty

1397 earliest surviving books printed with movable type from Korea

1400 Peking, the Ming capital, largest city in world

1519 Magellan crosses Pacific

1557 Portuguese establish first European colony in China

1571 Spanish conquer Philippines

1603 beginning of Shogunate in Japan

New World

900 Hohokam of American Southwest build irrigation canals, hiatus in Maya civilization

950 Toltecs rise to power in central Mexico

1000 Viking settlement in Newfoundland, molds used in Central and North America for pottery manufacture

1050 Anasazi settlements move to defensible locations

1100 Thule culture of Arctic expands to dominate from Siberia to Greenland

1150 Anasazi dominate American Southwest

1170 fall of the Toltecs

1250 Southern Cult in south-eastern North America reaches height

1300 revival of Maya civilization, Inca found capital of Cuzco

1345 arrival of Aztecs in Central Mexico, founding of Tenochtitlan in Mexico City

1350 collapse of Pueblo cultures in North America

1428 Aztecs very powerful

1438 Inca become vast powerful empire in South America

1450 depopulation and abandonment of towns in middle Mississippi possibly due to disease

1476 conquest of Chimu by Inca

1492 Columbus discovers America

1493 Inca reach height, first Spanish settlement in New World at Hispaniola

1500 Portuguese claim Brazil

1519 Cortez arrives in Mexico

1521 Aztecs overthrown by Cortez

1532 Inca destroyed by Pizarro

1539 printing reaches Mexico

1545 discovery of silver mines in Peru and Mexico

1560 Portuguese begin sugar cultivation in Brazil

1607 Jamestown founded

The period is characterized by changes in burial ceremony. Burials can be single or mass, as in ossuaries, and can be primary, secondary, or by cremation. Group interments tend to be at special mortuary sites, while single burials are usually at habitations. Ceramics are often shell-tempered or made with fine grit temper and thinner bodied; there is a shift to globular forms, and the addition of collars, sometimes decorated with human faces. Elaborate collars similar to those of Iroquois ceramics are found in the Merrimack and Champlain drainages. Triangular projectile points (smaller Madison points or larger Levanna points) are diagnostic for this period. This period is marked by an increasing importance in food production (maize, beans, squash, sunflower and other vegetables) in coastal or riverine zones, which begins by ca. 1100 BP on Martha's Vineyard (Ritchie 1969).

These changes in assemblage, and by implication, adaptation, are attributed to increasing numbers and densities of population at larger sites. Research issues include the extent of permanency in Late Woodland settlements, the nature of such settlements (i.e., whether such settlements were villages; see Hasenstab 1999; Kerber 1988; Luedtke 1988; Thorbahn 1988), the identification of horticulture with non-native plants and definition of the effects on humans. In addition, researchers might ask about the use of different ecozones, the reality of population growth, and whether or not climate change (e.g., the Little Ice Age), affected settlement and subsistence. There is some evidence of the development of long-distance exchange again, and some workers have suggested that a native beaver trade was developed before Contact. Regional differences are visible. In Vermont, there are fewer late Late Woodland sites than early Late Woodland. This may be a response to Iroquois settlement changes. In southern New England, horticulture did not replace existing gathering and hunting strategies, and large settlements did not replace small seasonal sites. Differential dependence on horticulture is likely to have affected society and politics. Cultural differentiation of the Iroquois from the Algonquin also presents research opportunities (Shaw 1996c).