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.

 

                                   ______________________

 

REFERENCES

 

   Adams, L.M., 1958, Archaeological Investigations of Southwest Missouri. Missouri

          Archaeologist, v.20, p.1-199

   Asimov, I., 1987, Beginnings, The Story of Origins - of Mankind, Life, the Earth,

          the Universe. Walker & Co.

   Baerreis, D.A., 1955, Further Material from the Huffaker Site, Delaware Co., Oklahoma.

          Oklahoma Anthropological Society Bulletin, v.3, p.53-70

   Baerreis, D.A., Freeman, J.E., Wright, J.V., 1958, The Contracting Stem Projectile Point

          in Eastern Oklahoma. Oklahoma Anthropological Society Bulletin, v.6, p.61-82

   Baerreis, D.A., 1959, The Archaic as seen from the Ozark Region. American Antiquity,

          v.24, no.3, p.270-275

   Chapman, C.H., 1975, The Archaeology of Missouri, Part 1.

   Gregory, J., Towns, S., 1966, The Afton Point. Central States Archaeological Journal,

          v.13, no.3, p.116-119

   History of Ottawa County, 1983

   National Geographic

   O'Brien, M.J., 1996, Paradigms of the Past, Missouri Archaeology.

   O'Brien, M.J., Wood, W.R., 1998, The Prehistory of Missouri. University of Missouri Press

   Overstreet, R.M., 1997, The Overstreet Indian Arrowheads Identification and Price

          Guide. Avon

   Perino, G., 1985, v.1, Selected Preforms, Points, and Knives of the North American Indians.

 

 

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