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Early Woodland and the Adena Complex. Early Woodland Period (1000 B.C.-A.D. 1). The Early Woodland period is an elaboration of Archaic trends.

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Early Woodland and the Adena Complex

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early woodland period 1000 b c a d 1
Early Woodland Period (1000 B.C.-A.D. 1)
  • The Early Woodland period is an elaboration of Archaic trends.
  • A greatly increased use of earthen burial mounds and pottery making make Early Woodland sites more visible to the archaeologist than most Archaic sites.
archaic woodland trends include
Archaic-Woodland trends include:
  • More intensive exploitation of diverse food sources in highly localized environments (part of'primary forest efficiency').
  • More sedentary living.
  • More clearly recognizable territorial boundaries.
  • More intensive exchange of scarce materials.
  • More complex social orders.
  • Increasing cultivation of native and foreign plants.
  • Larger populations living in more geographically and socially circumscribed territories.
woodland sites
Woodland Sites


traditional early woodland
Traditional Early Woodland
  • Traditionally, the Early Woodland was separated from the Late Archaic by the association with Early Woodland sites of pottery containers, earthen burial mounds, and cultivated plant foods.
  • But, as we have seen with Poverty Point, these innovations have deep roots in the Archaic in some areas.
  • The difference between Archaic and Woodland cultures, then, is more a matter of convention.
  • Woodland pottery is generally grit-tempered and cord-marked. In general, it becomes thinner through time.
early woodland pottery
Early Woodland Pottery


woodland period fabric marked pottery
Woodland Period fabric-marked pottery


container revolution
“Container Revolution”
  • The widespread appearance of pottery is thought to be related to a "container revolution"associated with an increased exploitation of wild and domesticated seed crops.
  • Many native and foreign plants were cultivated by the Early Woodland period (with some appearing in the Middle Archaic period).
indigenous cultigens
Indigenous cultigens
  • Indigenous cultigens include sunflower, Jerusalem artichoke, sumpweed, goosefoot, knotweed, maygrass, and little barley.
  • Cultivated plants remained a supplementary food in the Eastern Woodlands until after AD 800.
  • Used flint blades, drills, scrapers, stone axes and adzes, bone tools, atlatl weights, projectile points .

Yadkin points


early woodland points
Early Woodland Points





burial and trade
Burial and Trade
  • Two Early Woodland characteristics that separate it from the Archaic are an elaboration of archaeologically visible burial customs and an intensification of local and inter-regional exchange.
    • Burial of high status in earthen mounds.
    • High status trade goods.
burial mounds
Burial Mounds


effigy mounds
Effigy Mounds
  • Serpent Mound, Ohio
  • One of the few effigy mounds in Ohio, Serpent Mound is the largest and finest serpent effigy in the United States.
  • Nearly a quarter of a mile long, Serpent Mound apparently represents an uncoiling serpent. Serpent Mound lies on a plateau overlooking the valley of Brush Creek.
  • Nearby conical mounds contained burials and implements characteristic of the prehistoric Adena people (800 BC-AD 100).
serpent mound
Serpent Mound

The most famous of all such (effigy) mounds is the Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, 1,330 feet in length along its coils and averaging three feet in height.


  • Widespread trading contacts
  • Ohio pipestone from the lower Scioto Valley to Lake Huron and the upper St Lawrence Valley
  • Copper from Lake Superior
  • Sea shells from the Gulf Coast
  • Intensified local and inter-regional trade
social organization population settlement
Social Organization, Population & Settlement
  • Probably clans and lineages controlled the resources.
  • Social standing was extremely important, especially for burial.
  • Population size and growth
    • villages held as many as 40 people
    • had very localized population density
  • Settlement pattern
    • Early Woodland settlement distribution resemblesthe Late Archaic communities
    • Adena lived by basically every major Ohio Rivertributary
  • Religious beliefs and rituals
  • Burial mounds
    • death was extremely symbolic
    • contained tools, exotic ornaments,bracelets, rings
  • Adena
    • painted corpse with different colors (red ochre)
early woodland models for behavior
Early Woodland Models for Behavior
  • A popular model for Early Woodland subsistence, exchange, and burial ceremony suggests that population growth led by the Early Woodland in northern parts of the Eastern Woodlands to better defined and more circumscribed local territories.
  • More visible "stylistic boundary markers" (e.g., projectile point and pottery styles), and more formal exchange mechanisms that structured the bartering of essentials and prestigious luxuries from one area to another in a web of reciprocal obligations and formal gift giving.
  • Exotic items may have served as 'systemic regulators. A similar elaboration of stylistic boundary markers didn't appear to the south because seasonal contrasts were much less marked, and food resources were not so highly localized and short-lived throughout the year.
behavior models
Behavior Models
  • It' s possible that membership in lineages, clans, and other social groups was becoming more important, for it was the group that controlled access to food and other resources, and group leaders who organized work efforts and secured exchange with neighboring groups.
  • A growing sense of corporate identity was reinforced by regular burial ceremonies at earthworks, where important social leaders had been buried for many generations.
  • Exchange helped maintain rights of access to outside resources, and to resources, in general, during times of stress.
behavior models22
Behavior Models
  • This model contains mechanisms for fostering inter-group relationships and for ameliorating food shortages.
  • It shows how the system could have provided increasing social and economic stability, reinforced sedentary living and the specialized exploitation of local resources, and population increases.
a main question
A main question
  • Is the model true?
  • Were social or ideological factors more important?
adena complex c 1000 bc ad 100
Adena complex (c. 1000 BC-AD 100)
  • The Adena complex was a mortuary-ceremonial complex centered in the central Ohio Valley that was shared by many local cultures.
  • Earlier Adena burial centers are marked by a basically egalitarian burial program, utilitarian grave goods, and smaller earthen burial mounds.
adena complex
Adena Complex
  • Later (after c. AD 1) Adena mortuary-ceremonial centers have more elaborate, special burials; exotic grave goods; and much larger mounds often associated with circular enclosures ("sacred circles") thought to be ceremonial gathering places.
  • Many grave items are very finely made.
  • Examples of centers are the Robbins Mound in Kentucky and the Grave Creek Mound in West Virginia.
grave creek mound wv
Grave Creek Mound, WV
  • The most impressive and largest Adena mound, Grave Creek Mound is the largest conical type of any of the mound builder structures.
  • onstruction of the mound took place in successive stages from about 250-150 B.C., as indicated by the multiple burials at different levels within the structures.
  • In 1838, road engineers measured its height at 69 feet and its at the base as 295 feet. Originally a moat of about 40 feet in width and five feet in depth with one causeway encircled it.
  • The first recorded excavation of the mound took place in 1838, conducted by local amateurs. To gain entrance to the mound, two shafts, one vertical and one horizontal were created. This led to the most significant discovery of two burial vaults.
  • In addition to the Adena ornaments and remains found in the interior, the upper vault contained a small flat sandstone tablet. Later, authenticity of the tablet and the meaning of its inscription became quite controversial. Though the stone has never been authenticated and has been disputed by most professionals, a replica of the original is on display in the museum.
grave creek mound
Grave Creek Mound


miamisburg mound oh
Miamisburg Mound, OH
  • The Miamisburg Mound is the largest conical burial mound in the state of Ohio and possibly in the eastern U. S.
  • Archaeological investigations of the surrounding area suggest that it was constructed by the prehistoric Adena Indians (800 BC - AD 100).
  • Built on a 100-foot-high bluff, the mound measures 877 feet in circumference.
  • It was originally more than 70 feet high.
miamisburg mound
Miamisburg Mound


shrum mound oh
Shrum Mound, Oh
  • Shrum Mound is one of the last remaining conical burial mounds in the city of Columbus.
  • The 20-foot-high and 100-foot-diameter mound is located in the one-acre Campbell roadside park.
  • The mound is grass-covered and steps lead to its summit.
  • It was probably constructed about 2000 years ago by the prehistoric Adena people.
shrum mound oh31
Shrum Mound, Oh


story mound ohio
Story Mound, Ohio
  • Story Mound consists of a large, rounded earthen mound located on slightly less than an acre of ground in Chillicothe.
  • This prehistoric burial mound stands 19.5 feet high, with a basal diameter of 95 feet.
  • Erected by prehistoric Adena Indians (800 BC-AD 100) it was excavated in 1897 by Clarence Loveberry.
  • It yielded the first documented example of a circular Adena timber building, a structural type now known as the norm in Adena ceremonial and domestic architecture.
story mound ohio33
Story Mound, Ohio


mound construction
Mound construction


adena artifacts
Adena Artifacts
  • 800 B.C. - A.D. 100
  • This carved pipe was found in the Adena mound in Chillicothe.
  • It shows us an Adena man wearing typical clothing and jewelry.
spear points
Spear Points
  • 800 B.C. - A.D. 100
  • This is a selection of the long, stemmed spear points of the Adena culture.
other artifacts
Other Artifacts
  • A-D  Four flaked stone knives   
  • E      Ground slate ornament gorget (neck pendant) 
  • F-H  Large ceremonial cache blades  
  • I       Four rolled copper beads   
  • J      Ground stone axe 


ohio adena culture stone tablet
Ohio, Adena CultureStone Tablet


  • http://campus.northpark.edu/history/WebChron/NorthAmerica/Adena.html
  • http://www.geocities.com/moore_brandon_54601/EarlyWoodlandandAdena.html
  • http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/ohc/archaeol/p_indian/tradit/adena.shtml