5,500 to 2,250 BP : Late Archaic to Early Woodland
From about 5,500 years ago comes the earliest evidence of an elite class. It was part
of the Hongshan culture living north of Beijing. The famous Iceman found in the Alps on
the borders of Austria and Italy lived between 5500 - 5000 BP. Around 5200 BP the
Egyptians began using hieroglyphics and the Sumerians began using cuneiform to express
themselves. Over 5000 years ago, the Egyptians were competing in running, swimming,
rowing, archery, and wrestling and the Peruvians domesticated the alpaca. Around 5000 BP,
Minoans possessed interior plumbing, and on the Golan Heights in Israel, observations were
being made from an astronomical observatory.
The Late Archaic Period began here around 5000 BP. The sub-Boreal climatic episode
from 5050-2850 BP produced diminished westerly winds and an increase in rainfall. Eight
well-documented sites from this period have been studied. Two of the sites are in Barry Co.,
Missouri, on Capps Creek, four in Newton Co., Missouri, on Shoal Creek and its tributaries,
and two in Delaware Co., Oklahoma, on Honey Creek and at the confluence of Honey Creek
and Grand River. A sense of community has developed as the extended family settings found
around bluff shelters, have grown into occasional villages with houses, storage pits, deep
trash middens, and burial mounds. The cultivation of squash (Cucurbita pepo) and bottle
gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) began around 4200 BP, which probably added enormously to
the local food supply. Table Rock stemmed points were introduced around 4000 BP, and
around 3700 BP Stone square stemmed, Etley, Smith, and Afton points appear. Near Afton,
Oklahoma, in northern Ottawa Co., is a sulfur spring which was treated in a semi-religious
way in that valued implements appear to have been entrusted to its waters. It is nearly
dried up now, but less than a hundred years ago it had a copious flow. Fine Afton points,
knives, blades, and mastodon bones and teeth up to 18" long have been dredged out of it.
Ground stone implements make their appearance here during the Late Archaic, the technique
probably coming from the east. At NE 59, on a tributary to Shoal Creek, a groundstone celt,
a groundstone full groove axe, and a pecked and ground net sinker have been found. Pecking
and grinding an implement must have consumed much more time than knapping so this
indicates a more sedentary lifestyle with a greater amount of free time. The production of
eccentrics also increased. These are odd-shaped, often whimsical, pieces of well-worked
flint with no obvious use which also consumed free time. Osceola points appear around
3500 BP, and the corner-tang knife is also indicative of the period.
Around 4800 BP, Menes united Upper and Lower Egypt, and Hale-Bopp returned. Egypt's
Old Kingdom existed from 4700-4150 BP. Their first pyramid, the Step Pyramid, was built
around 4630 BP. The Great Pyramid of Khufu was built around 4550 BP, and Khafre's pyramid
and Sphinx, around 4520 BP. Egypt's 5th dynasty ran from 4470 to 4350 BP and built Abusir's
pyramids. Sargon built an empire of Sumer around 4350 BP. By 4250 BP, the La Venta people
of Mexico were planting corn. The Peruvians possessed potatoes, the oldest living bristlecone
pine had sprouted, and the Chinese raised silkworms and wove silk fabric before 4000 BP, at
which time Abraham of the Old Testament was born, the letter A was in use, and there were
still dwarf mammoths on Wrange Island, Siberia. An ice core has been drawn from the South
Pole area which records events back to this time. From around 3940 BP, Babylonia codifies
some of the worlds oldest laws under Hammurabi. In Ireland, the Tailteann Games were
organized around 3800 BP, and a Babylonian cookbook has come down to us from 3750 BP.
Around 3350 BP, the Hittite empire peaks. From 3300 BP, a Bronze Age fifty foot boat has
been found at Dover, England, and the Greeks of that time were learning to produce leavened
bread, and, 100 years later, were fighting with the Gods at Troy. The Olmec culture in Mexico
lived from 3200-2400 BP, during which time they built monuments, made pottery, and played
games with latex balls. Around 3020 BP Saul became the first king of Israel. Egypt's 21st
dynasty, from around 3000 BP, left silk with some of their mummies. The first Olympian
games were played 2,776 years ago, probably shortly after Homer composed the Iliad and
the Odyssey. Also about that time a meteor may have hit near Merna, Nebraska. The jury is
still out on that one, however. If in fact, it did, and it was as large as some think, it could
have affected those in this area as well. Romulus and Remus planted the seeds of the
Roman Empire around this time as well.
The sub-Atlantic climatic episode produced less moisture and left this area a little
dryer between 2850-1750 BP. Motley points first appear around 2800 BP to the east and
the style probably arrived here hundreds of years later. The Early Woodland Period ran from
2600-2250 BP but life in general apparently continued along Late Archaic lines around here.
The diagnostic mineral temper pottery has not been found here, and Gary and Langtry points
were the most common specific type. Around 2600 BP, people in the Alps were
domesticating chickens. Darius I was king of Persia 2,521 years ago, and by 2500 BP they
were invading Egypt, at about the same time as Buddha died. Socrates was born around
2470 BP, and by 2400 BP, Athens was experiencing its Golden Age and Hale-Bopp returned.
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