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The Prehistoric Eastern Woodlands. The Moundbuilders…. Serpent Mound. The Region. The Eastern Woodlands comprises almost one third of the American landscape. Everything East of the Mississippi River is considered the Woodlands.

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the prehistoric eastern woodlands

The Prehistoric Eastern Woodlands

The Moundbuilders…

Serpent Mound

the region
The Region

The Eastern Woodlands comprises almost one third of the American landscape.

Everything East of the Mississippi River is considered the Woodlands.

It is such a large culture area that it is split into a northern and southern region.

the northern woodlands
The Northern Woodlands

• Characterized by a heavy reliance on hunting and gathering, along with 1 agricultural crop in some areas.

• Traditional alliances, or confederacies, were the over-riding political structures.

the southern woodlands
The Southern Woodlands

Characterized by a heavy reliance on agriculture, 2 agricultural crops a year.

Cities and towns were the basic social structure with large political alliances and governing bodies.

the environment
The Environment

Prior to Contact enormous deciduous forests existed throughout the Eastern Woodlands.

Native uses for the land included hunting, gathering, agriculture, and resource management.

The landscape was managed through regular burning and clearing to promote new growth and reduce risk of fire.

philosophy of the moundbuilders
Philosophy of the Moundbuilders

According to anthropologists wealth and prestige were strong indicators of social status in prehistoric Woodland communities.

the mounds
The Mounds
  • Over 10,000 mounds once dotted the landscape of the Eastern Woodlands.
  • Today less than 10% remain.
  • The majority of mounds have been destroyed through agricultural practices and construction in the last 200 years.
  • The cultural legacy of thousands of years is being lost – piece by piece.
prehistoric cultural groups
Prehistoric Cultural Groups
  • The Adena
  • The Hopewell
  • The Mississippians
the adena
The Adena

A cultural group from the Archaic Period which came to prominence in the Ohio River Valley systems of the Northern Woodlands over 3000 years ago.

Moundbuilding traditions begin with the Adena.

adena serpent mound
Adena - Serpent Mound

One of the most famous effigy mounds, in Ohio.

This snake figure stretches more than ¼ mile.

hopewell chillicothe mounds
Hopewell – Chillicothe Mounds

Important for large deposits of copper ore and sheet mica which became trade commodities throughout the woodlands region.

the mississippians
The Mississippians

Best known of the prehistoric Woodlands groups because of their continuity in tradition and extensive material culture.

cahokia city
Cahokia City

There are over 100 mounds in the city.

Over 50 trillion cubic feet of earth were moved to construct Cahokia.

Monks Mound covers 14 acres, is 100 feet tall with 4 terraces.

The mound-top temple would have risen an additional 50 feet.

the southeastern ceremonial complex
The Southeastern Ceremonial Complex
  • This is the term used to encompass the continuous cultural tradition and existence of artistic conventions found in the Eastern Woodlands.
  • These traditions and conventions can be traced from the prehistoric period down through hundreds of generations to the Native tribes and communities in the area today.
prehistoric historic transitions
Prehistoric/Historic Transitions
  • By the time the first European explorers arrived in America, the Adena and Hopewell had declined.
  • These early European explorers met many of the Mississippians on their searches into the Woodlands – with devastating effect.
  • The cultural legacy of the prehistoric Woodlands survives in the tribes who exist there today and maintain traditional ties with the past.
  • The last of the moundbuilding cultures, the Natchez, fell to French invaders in the 1700s.
tennessee mound building http mcclungmuseum utk edu permex archaeol archaeol htm
Tennessee Mound Buildinghttp://mcclungmuseum.utk.edu/permex/archaeol/archaeol.htm