After reading this chapter, students should be able to:
understand the geographic and resource differences between North, Central, and South America, and how this situation created different cultural and economic trajectories in all periods
characterize the general Paleoindian period, in terms of archaeological evidence and the underlying cultural mechanisms
explain the differences between the Paleoindian adaptation in different regions in North America and between North, Central and South American lifeways
discuss environmental changes during the early Holocene and their impact on subsistence, economy, and social conditions
characterize the Archaic period and the economic and social changes occurring during this time
describe the origins of agriculture in the different regions of the Americas
describe the changing theories regarding agricultural origins and the evidence on which they are based
explain the process of domestication of plants and animals and which species were important in each region
explain how complex societies arose in the Archaic period in some regions, while not in others
discuss the theoretical controversies surrounding human use and occupation in the Amazon Basin
THE LATE PALEOINDIAN PERIOD
North American Clovis points are similar stylistically and technologically, continent-wide -- reflecting flexible, fluid social relations, fewer languages, and alliance networks, enabling scattered groups to exchange and renew ties. Gradually, new points appear, and by 10,650 BC, Clovis was replaced by regional styles. Such changes do not always relate to actual groups, but if they do, the shift may indicate settling down, less pressure to maintain contact with distant kin, and reduced scale and openness in social systems.
The Late Paleoindian (c. 11,000-7000 BC) displays successive complexes with distinctive points (Folsom, Plainview, Goshen, Agate Basin, Hell Gap, Cody), co-evolving with increasing bison-hunting.
Bison are easily exploited, and Late Paleoindians used surrounds and drives. Folsom-age kills (11,000-10,050 BC) involved more animals over time: hundreds at sites such as Olsen-Chubbuck and Jones-Miller (Colorado). Targeting of less dangerous cow-calf herds shows increasing efficiency. However, many are only partially butchered, and some show no butchering. Only select cuts were taken, unlike historic hunters who intensively processed their kills.
Uncomplicated toolkits permitted efficient butchering and transport by groups who traveled far each year, perhaps to Alaska where Mesa complex artifacts (9500 BC) are similar to Plains tools.
The Plains Paleoindian ended during long, severe droughts that impacted bison numbers and encouraged more use of elk, deer, rabbit, and plants.
West of the Rocky Mountains
Earlier and Late Paleoindian peoples left only a few sites in valleys near now-extinct waterways. They subsisted on plants, small mammals, fish, frogs, and waterfowl. Their generalized toolkits included knives, scrapers, burins and gravers, and projectile points, often from far-away sources, indicating mobility. Warming climate and shrinking wetlands after c. 9000 BC saw ground-stone tools for plant processing increase.
The Eastern Forests
Holocene vegetation established later here, and only a few small, ephemeral sites appear around 9500 BC, when pine woodland supported little biomass and hunters may have gone north.
In the Midwest and Southeast, new largely non-overlapping projectile point types appear, signaling territoriality. Variation in local resources resulted in differing adaptations, which unlike the Plains, involved many animal and plant species. Unlike Clovis predecessors, eastern Late Paleoindians were settling down, using local stone, and creating cemeteries.
Central and South America
North American models were once applied to Central and South America, despite lack of archaeological evidence. Clovis-like points only extend to Panama. Points that appear fluted may simply represent technological convergence. Evidence from Monte Verde indicates pre-Clovis occupation, and Late Paleoindian adaptations vary due to differing environments such as Amazonia, the Andes, and the Patagonian steppe.
In contrast to North America, Central and South American Late Paleoindians relied greatly on plants as food, medicine and fiber, seen at lowland Monte Verde (Chile) and Pedra Pintada (Brazil) but also highland Guilá Naquitz (Mexico) and Andean cave sites Guitarrero and Pachamachay.
Reflecting varied resources, regional assemblages include points, scrapers and knives, bone tools, sling and bola stones, harpoons, pestles, mortars, and grinding stones.
North American Late Paleoindians used high-quality stone; Central and South American industries used mediocre but more accessible stone, reducing travel and encouraging early sedentism.
Changes to Come
Paleoindians everywhere moved toward regionalized styles, reduced mobility, and increasing heterogeneous cultures, underlain by an infilling landscape, territoriality, and reduced travel, creating need for a broad-spectrum food base, followed by food production.
THE ARCHAIC PERIOD
The Archaic began at 9500 BC, but ended at different times, due to variability in the establishment of Holocene biota. A coevolutionary relationship grew between people and their favored species, as hunting-fishing-gathering populations developed agricultural or semi-agricultural economies. Regional social, and political conditions sometimes influenced other areas, but current evidence supports regionally independent, indigenous cultural trajectories.
THE MEXICAN ARCHAIC AND THE ORIGINS OF NEW WORLD AGRICULTURE
In Archaic Mexico (c. 9500-2500 BC) nomadic foragers domesticated plants that became important across the Americas. A long period of high mobility and low population density was followed by sedentary agricultural villages from around 1600 BC, when pottery-using people began constructing monuments. Earlier evidence for sedentism is sparse and controversial:
Zohapilco and San Andrés (Mexico)
Watson Brake (Louisiana)
parts of the Pacific South America.
The Earliest Cultigens
At Guilá Naquitz, gourds, originating in Africa, perhaps floating across the Atlantic, date to 8030-7915 BC, and squash from c. 8000 BC to 6000 BC. Wild squash, requiring little care, fits easily into a hunting and gathering round: left to grow at various seasonally visited locations without need for sedentism or agriculture.
Once, archaeologists believed that Archaic Mexicans gradually increased plant consumption, enabling microbands to aggregate into macrobands, eventually (by 3000-2000 BC) supporting semi-permanent camps. This was based on now-outdated evidence that maize and beans were domesticated by 6000 BC. At Guilá Naquitz, early, primitive maize cobs have been redated to 4300 BC and similar cobs from Tehuacán to c. 3500 BC. Beans from Tehuacán and Tamaulipas have been redated by AMS to no earlier than 1000 BC. AMS dates for squash are earlier: 3080 BC, and amaranth and chili pepper were also early cultigens. Thus, agricultural reliance occurred rapidly between 4500 and 2500 BC.
SOUTHWEST NORTH AMERICA
The Archaic Period
Pleistocene conditions ended c. 9000 BC, but Southwest North Americans (including northwestern Mexico), continued mobile hunting-gathering for 6000 years. Before 2500 BC Southwestern hunter-gatherers relied on large and small game and plants. Small, short-term sites have low artifact densities. After 2500 BC, rivers formed broad valleys, suitable for cultivation and irrigation. The Archaic here is characterized not by domestication but by ceramic use. Maize appears at 2000 BC but ceramics as late as AD 1 to 400.
Maize, squash, and other Mexican crops spread north shortly after 2000 BC. Bat Cave (New Mexico) maize was thought to date to c. 3000-2500 BC but has been redated by AMS to around 1500 BC. Many sites in Arizona and New Mexico yield maize from around 2000 BC. Early sites with irrigation and terrace agriculture include:
The Milagro, Las Capas, Valley Farms, and Wetlands sites (Arizona) San Pedro phase (c. 1500-1100 BC)
Zuni Pueblo (New Mexico) c. 1000 BC
Cerro Juanaqueña (Northern Chihuahua, Mexico) c. 1300-1100 BC
Models of Agricultural Adoption and Dispersal.
New evidence for earlier, more sedentary and organized farming necessitates new models for early agricultural spread. Agriculture may have been introduced by migrating Uto-Aztecans rather than adopted by indigenous hunter-gatherers. This remains controversial; a combination of migration and adoption may be the case.
Later Agricultural Developments and Systems
During the 1st millennium AD the Southwest gained squashes and cotton crops. Beans, agave, amaranth, panic grass, and devil's claw were later cultigens. More productive maize varieties may be linked to agricultural intensification, larger pithouse villages or the late 1st-millennium AD shift from pithouse to pueblo architecture. Domesticated turkey, used for meat, date to 800 BC at Tularosa and Jemez caves (New Mexico) and to 200 BC-AD 700 in Tehuacán (Mexico).
EASTERN NORTH AMERICA
Late Paleoindian people hunted and gathered and used fibers for clothing, cordage, baskets, and nets. Weapons included spears and atlatls, but not bows and arrows. Early Archaic lifeways were similar. In the Middle Archaic, modern climate was established, nuts became a staple and cultivated gourds appear. Earthworks were built by Southeast groups. In the Late Archaic, domesticated small-seeded plants and middens of freshwater mussels appear.
Early to Middle Archaic
Between c. 9500 and 4000 BC, a warm interval, or "Hypsithermal" occurred. By Middle Archaic times, regionally distinctive assemblages appear. Sites include:
Page-Ladson; Windover Pond (Florida)
Koster; Modoc rockshelter (Illinois)
Eva; Icehouse Bottom (Tennessee)
The Beginnings of Agriculture in the Middle and Late Archaic
Cultivation of native, gourd-like squash dates to 6000 BC at Koster (Illinois) and to 4500-3000 BC in Maine and Pennsylvania. Gourds, perhaps traded from their native Gulf of Mexico, may have served as fishnet floats, rattles, utensils, and containers. Enlarged seeds appear c. 2500 BC at the Phillips Spring site (Missouri), with newly succulent, non-bitter flesh.
Sunflower, sumpweed (oil plants), and chenopod, native seed-bearing plants, were modified during the Middle and Late Archaic and could no longer reproduce naturally. The first two were domesticated by c. 2500 BC, and the third after 2000 BC. By 1300 BC, cultigen-sized sunflower, sumpweed, and squash seeds are documented in storage contexts. Knotweed and maygrass were also soon stored.
Late Archaic Sites and Lifeways
Early agriculture and non-agricultural sites include
Bacon Bend and Iddins (Tennessee)
The Carlston Annis Shell Mound, Cold Oak, Cloudsplitter, and Newt Kash (Kentucky)
Marble Bluff (Arkansas)
Horr's Island (Florida)
The Earliest Pottery
The earliest ceramics date to c. 2500 BC in Georgia and South Carolina. They developed not where crop production was occurring but where hunter-gatherers increasingly harvested and processed wild foods. Shallow bowls were used with boiling stones, but coastal people adopted direct heat due to stone scarcity. By c. 1000 BC, the Eastern Woodlands were fully ceramic.
Early Woodland Period
By c. 1000 BC, the eastern agricultural complex appeared in the Midwest and mid-South at rockshelters, open sites, and caves.
Later Agricultural Developments
While Middle Woodland (c. 200 BC-AD 400) peoples in Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas were growing crops, the Deep South, Great Lakes, Northeast, and Atlantic show little farming; wild plants may have been sufficient.
Maize came from the Southwest, with the earliest secure eastern North American dates between AD 1 and 600 (Illinois, Ohio, and Tennessee) with small amounts at sites already growing chenopod, sunflower, and maygrass. Slightly higher frequencies come from Midwest, Ozark, and Arkansas River sites, AD 400-800. Stable carbon isotope from human bone indicates a minor dietary contribution. Southern Ontario people were the earliest previously non-food-producers to adopt agriculture.
In the 9th and 10th centuries AD, maize production intensified in the American Bottom, where the Cahokia chiefdom would soon arise. By AD 900, maize and native crops increased to feed expanding populations. Around AD 900-1100, hunter-gatherers south and east of the pre-maize farming zone adopted maize, as Mississippian chiefdoms rose. Beans arrived late, c. AD 1200.
Tobacco, used ceremonially and medicinally, primarily by men, dates to the early 1st millennium AD (Illinois) but smoking pipes indicate earlier presence.
WESTERN NORTH AMERICA: ALTERNATIVES TO AGRICULTURE
Hunter-gatherers moved seasonally within territories; plants provided food, medicine, and fibers and were cultivated but not domesticated. Large and small animals were hunted, and Late Archaic landscapes were managed with fire.
California and the Pacific Northwest societies were supported by fishing, hunting, gathering and trading. After 3500 BC, social complexity rose, and clear sedentism, territorial competition, hierarchical ranking, and conflict postdate 1300 BC, with greater population densities, and social stratification than farming counterparts.
Great Plains Bison Hunting
Bison hunting continued into Early Archaic times. Small bands made large-scale autumn kills to survive colder, wetter, harsher winters: meat could be stored frozen. Warm-weather sites, such as Barton Gulch (Montana) yielded 36 edible plant species and small game.
Hotter and drier Middle Archaic conditions impacted grasslands and bison numbers, forcing people to hunt new species with new strategies. In the Late Archaic, climate ameliorated and hunting of reestablished bison herds resumed. Jumps, ambushes, and traps were revived, and the bison pound appeared. Use of the tipi and medicine wheels/sun circles began.
The Pacific Northwest Maritime Cultures
Early Archaic, marine-based economies developed with line-fishing and sea mammal hunting, in the Middle Archaic shellfishing and net and weir-fishing were added. Evidence comes from:
Namu (British Columbia)
Reliable resources created long-term demographic stability around 6500 BC. Elite social status markers appear by 4000 BC. Competition precipitated warfare by 2500 BC; slavery and the potlatch are clearly founded in this period. Mudslides preserved organic materials at the Hoko River and Ozette sites (Washington).
The Great Basin Desert Archaic
The Desert Archaic begins about 7000 BC. Hogup and Danger caves preserve wood, hide, feathers, and vegetable fibers from activities between 8000 BC and AD 1400, as people exploited marshes and lakes for fowl and native plants. Similar sites include:
Fort Rock Cave (Oregon)
Lovelock and Humboldt rockshelters (Nevada)
The Archaic Period in California
Early Archaic hunters broadened their hunting subsistence base with marine resources, adding plants in the Middle Archaic. Basketry tools appear c. 7000 BC. Burials signify more sedentism. By 4500 BC, the Late Archaic, acorns, nuts, and salmon became staples. Increased populations created substantial settlements at winter beach camps and summer hill camps.
Late Archaic burials include tools and ornaments, steatite, and imported obsidian, but status differentiation began later. Religious specialists appear by the terminal Archaic (2000 BC), identified by charmstones, quartz crystals, and other shamanic material known from post-contact times.
THE SOUTH AMERICAN PACIFIC LOWLANDS
The Isthmus of Panama acted as a "bottleneck" on north-south movement. Small early Archaic campsites left by hunter-gatherers are similar to Paleoindian occupations. Landscape management by burning occurs after 9000 BC. Later sites incorporate cultivated squashes, bottle gourd, and other domesticates.
The North Pacific Coast
Colombia and Ecuador's tropical coastal forests provide little Early Archaic evidence. Middle Archaic inhabitants used mixed terrestrial and maritime resources, exemplified at the Las Vegas site (Ecuador) from 8000 to 4700 BC. Maize appears around 2200-1900 BC, as a ceremonial plant.
The Late Archaic saw rapid growth of more complex, sedentary societies, practicing agriculture, shellfishing, and fishing. Ceramics appeared between 4500 and 3500 BC at large villages with ritual mounds, such as San Jacinto I, Monsu, Puerto Chaco, and Puerto Hormigo (Colombia), and Real Alto and Loma Alta (Ecuador).
The Peruvian Coast
The Early Archaic Paijan complex is seen at sites on the Pampa de los Fósiles. Shellfishing began at 10,200 BC later joined by fishing, terrestrial and marine mammal hunting with stone harpoons. Maritime economies expanded during the Middle and Late Archaic. Early and middle maritime sites include:
the Ring Site (9800-4000 BC)
the Quebrada Jaguay site (11,300 BC)
the Quebrada Tacahuay site (10,700--8500 BC)
the Nanchoc site (5770 BC) which included ritual mounds
Through time substantial maritime specialization and intensification occurred. Important later sites include La Paloma and Chilca.
The Chilean Coast
Here, people used opportunistic, low-tech methods in rich coastal areas and more sophisticated skills and tools to exploit resources beyond the inter-tidal zone. Residents were semi-nomadic, using coastal and inland resources and trading with highlanders. Early Archaic sites include
Tiliviche (9000-8800 BC)
Quebrada Las Conchas (8800-8500 BC)
Middle Archaic sites include the Chinchorro culture of specialized maritime villagers. Their mummy complex, the oldest in the world, dates between 6000 and 1700 BC. Plant foods increased after c. 5000 BC, with domesticates in the Late Archaic.
Southern Chile and Southern Argentina
The earliest ephemeral fishing settlements appear c. 9000-8000 BC in Tierra del Fuego. Coastal, marine-focused semi-nomadic peoples lived in circular hide-covered huts and used canoes by Middle Archaic times. In Patagonia, guanaco was the main focus.
THE ANDEAN HIGHLANDS
Inhabitants hunted and collected plants, initially reducing risk through mobility and seasonal migration; later through exchange and storage.
The Northern Andes
Early Archaic highland sites were short-term residential base camps of semi-nomadic hunting groups who also relied heavily on plants:
Tequendam, El Abra, Cubilan, and Chobshi caves (Ecuador)
at San Isidro (Colombia)
in Pena Roja on the Rió Caquetá
The Central Andes
Interpretations from well-studied Peru influence interpretations and models.
Early work suggested seasonal occupation in a pattern of seasonal transhumance at sites such as:
the Lauricocha caves
In the northern Peruvian Andes a period of virtual depopulation occurred during the Middle Archaic (the mid-Holocene warm period of c. 7000-4500 BC).
Cultures first hunting, later herding camelids and using domesticated plants are seen at:
Pachamachay and Panaulauca caves
Seasonal occupation during the Early and Middle Archaic gave way to Late Archaic permanent year-round occupations.
Sites with transitory seasonal occupation during the Early and Middle Archaic became more permanent and shifted toward agro-pastoralism in the Late Archaic.
the Ayacucho site
the Asana site
In the Titicaca basin, between 6000 and 2300 BC, lake levels dropped, creating saline conditions. Seasonal open-air villages with semi-subterranean pithouses began c. 3200 BC; sedentary villages appeared when lake levels rose c. 2000-1500 BC. An example is Quelcatani. Cave sites display rock art of animals and humans hunting and herding.
The Southern Andes
Middle Archaic depopulation occurred when lakes disappeared after 7000 BC, until 2000 BC. Populations moved lower or adopted sedentism near water. Domestication of camelids began c. 3000 BC, and irrigated agriculture developed when the lakes recharged around 1500 BC. Late Archaic sites used domesticated quinoa, potato, beans, gourds, and chili peppers. Sites include:
Tulan 52 (3000-2700 BC)
Puripica 1 (2900-2600 BC)
Andean Animal and Plant Domestication
Some suggest that African fishermen crossed the Atlantic to Brazil 16,000 years ago carrying domesticated gourd and cotton used in fishing; this hypothesis cannot currently be tested.
South American domestic animals included llama (meat, hides, dung, transport), alpaca (meat, wool), guinea pig (meat, ritual), and muscovy duck (meat, eggs). Llama and alpaca were domesticated by 4000-3000 BC. Guinea pig estimates vary from c. 8000-6500 BC to 1000 BC. Ducks appear as domesticates between 800 BC and AD 1150.
Early potato and ullucu were recently reevaluated and erroneous dates of 9000 BC corrected by AMS dates of c. 5500 BC and c. 5100 BC, but whether wild or domesticated is uncertain. Earliest dates for beans, cotton, and tomato are 3000-2200 BC, redated from earlier estimates of 8000-6500 BC. Sites with loose sediments permit errors through undetectable mixing of paleobotanical materials:
Tres Ventanas caves
Guitarrero Cave (Peru)
THE AMAZONIAN LOWLANDS
Betty Meggers argues that tropical rainforest environmental conditions limit habitation to low density, short-term occupations. Donald Lathrap and Anna Roosevelt call this ecological determinism, arguing that carrying capacities are underestimated. Rainforest conditions make archaeology difficult.
Roosevelt's site Pedra Pintada (Brazil), in the Early Archaic c. 8500 BC housed small nomadic forager-hunter groups. Occupation levels from 6800-5700 BC contain pottery. Roosevelt advocates growing complexity during the Middle Archaic with plant cultivation in the Late Archaic.
In uplands, people hunted small animals with atlatls, bolas, and stone axes, and collected palm nuts and other plants. By the late Middle Archaic, small habitation mounds appear. After 4500 BC diet broadened and population increased. Some hunted on open savannahs, while others were fisher-gatherers along rivers. After 4000-3500 BC, large villages with ceramics appeared.
THE ATLANTIC LOWLANDS
Early Archaic people fished and shellfished by 9000-8000 BC. The Middle and Late Archaic periods (6000-1500 BC) are characterized by maritime intensification and sambaqui (shell mounds) containing village clusters of 30-40 houses after 3500 BC, with nearby cemeteries. Totemic sculptures appear after c. 2500 BC.
Dolores Piperno and Deborah Pearsall argue from paleobotanical evidence that tropical domestication began by c. 8000 BC, and large-scale food production by 6000 BC; earlier than the central Mexican highlands or Andes, 5000 years before sedentism. Others estimate sedentary villages, maize and manioc cultivation at 1500 BC or later.
Key Controversy: The Domestication Of Maize
Key Site: Koster: An Archaic Camp in Illinois
Key Sites: Watson Brake And Poverty Point, Louisiana
Key Sites: La Paloma And Chilca: Archaic Villages of the Peruvian Coast
Key Site: Asana: Base Camp and Herding Residence
Key Site: Caral: The Rise of Socio-political complexity
Key Discovery: The Archaic Dog
Key Discovery: The Chinchorro Mummies
Key words and terms Chapter 9
Archaic (early, middle, late)
Folsom, Plainview, Goshen, Agate Basin, Hell Gap, Cody
bison surrounds, drives, jumps
fibers, clothing, shoes, baskets, nets, line, cordage
cerros de trincheras
agriculture: larger seeds, reduced seed coat thickness, monocephaly, compact inflorescences, loss of natural shattering mechanisms.
marine: weirs, deep-sea hook-and-line fishing, whaling, nets
Central and South America
scrapers and knives, bone tools
sling stones and bola stones
nets, harpoons, pestles, mortars, and grinding stones
Early pan-North American culture
aggregation, information exchange, mating networks, alliance networks
regionalization, increased sedentism, populations increase, reduction in spatial scale and openness of social systems, new and different prey
time-transgressive periods due to differing post-glacial processes
broad spectrum vs. narrow Late Paleoindian and Archaic diets
agriculture introduced by migrating Uto-Aztecans vs. adoption by indigenous hunter-gatherers
Eastern North America, agriculture; Western North America, intensified hunting, fishing, gathering
slow vs. rapid adoption of agriculture
domesticates incorporated into hunting-gathering
no big-game hunters
lowland vs. highland adaptations
plant food reliance, mediocre stone, more sedentism
marine/maritime focus in many areas
early complex societies
Andean burial tradition
African fishermen hypothesis
"lost paradise" vs. "counterfeit paradise"
Zohapilco and San Andrés
Tucson San Pedro phase: Milagro, Las Capas, Valley Farms, and Wetlands sites
Tularosa and Jemez caves
Aucilla River; Page-Ladson
Little Salt Spring
Bacon Bend and Iddins
Carlston Annis Shell Mound
Cold Oak, Cloudsplitter, and Newt Kash, and Marble Bluff Rock Shelters
Fort Rock Cave
Lovelock and Humboldt rockshelters
Santa Rosa Island
Cueva de los Vampiros
San Jacinto I, Monsu, Puerto Chaco, Puerto Hormigo
Real Alto, Loma Alta
Paijan complex, Pampa de los Fósiles.
Ring Site, Quebrada Jaguay, and Quebrada Tacahuay.
Quebrada Las Conchas
Tequendam, El Abra
Pachamachay, Uchumachay, Panaulauca, Telarmachay
Tulan 52, Puripica 1
Tres Ventanas caves
Cultigens and domesticates
teosinte, squash, bottle gourd
maize, squash, gourd
Sonoran panic grass
sunflower, sumpweed, and chenopod