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Georgia’s Four Prehistoric Periods

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  1. Georgia’s Four Prehistoric Periods

  2. Background • During the Ice Age, the seas were as much as 300 feet below what they are now. This exposed large areas of land that today are under water. • Around 12,000 B.C., small groups of hunters walked across a “land bridge” from modern-day Siberia to what is now Alaska.

  3. Scientists feel that the original group of nomads contained fewer than 25 people. Some scientists think it was less than that. (Think about it – fewer than 25 people are responsible for all of the Native Americans in both North and South America!)

  4. Georgia’s prehistoric inhabitants • By approximately 10,000 B.C., groups of nomadic humans had migrated to what is now the Southeastern United States. • From 10,000 B.C. until around 1600 A.D. these people and their descendants developed 4 unique cultural periods, or traditions. • Paleo-Indian Period (10,000 to 8,000 B.C.) • Archaic Period (8,000 to 1,000 B.C.) • Woodland Period (1,000 B.C. to 1,000 A.D.) • Mississippian Period (1,000 A.D. to 1600 A.D.)

  5. First humans in North America

  6. The Paleo-Indian Period • Lived in small or groups of two or three families • They moved from place to place in search of and following food. • They lived in temporary shelters made of skins of animals, pits, and caves, but not in permanent shelters

  7. The men hunted small game and large, Ice-Age animals such as the Giant Bison, Giant Sloth, Mastadon, and other extinct mammals. The women usually gathered plant foodssuch as nuts, wild plums, grapes, blackberries and other types of berries which were abundant in the summer and early fall.

  8. Food • Berries, wild fruit/ vegetables such as plums, blackberries, grapes • Primarily hunted large mammals such as Bison, mastodon, giant sloth • Also hunted some small mammals (coyote, bear, rabbit)

  9. In the early part of the Paleo period, they hunted their prey with spears and other simple tools. Some developed and attached Clovis points to the spears. Clovis points are large points, some being as large as your hand.

  10. Clovis points were attached to heavy spears that were jabbed into the animal or thrown only a few feet. Either method required the hunter to get close to his prey, which was extremely dangerous. Archaeological evidence shows that many male Paleo-Indians suffered broken bones and other lifelong injuries.

  11. Primitive atlatls helped the Paleo-indians kill smaller game that was difficult to get close to.

  12. There is evidence that the Paleo-Indians had religious beliefs. Graves have been found in which the dead were sprinkled with a red powdered mineral (ochre) and flowers placed on their bodies. Some people suggest that they believed in some form of afterlife.

  13. Dates 10,000-8,000 B.C. Weapons “Clovis” points Stone spear points Knives and scrapers Atlatl – used to propel spears long distances Food Large game hunted animals Mammoths, bisons, ground sloths, and mastadons Wild berries and nuts gathered Dwellings Lived in groups of 25-50 Nomadic = always on the move for food = no permanent housing Slept in caves, under cliffs, and dug out “sleeping pits” Religion Artifacts to suggest general spirituality – red powder, flowers The Paleo Period Paleo = “Very old” / few lived to be 30 yrs. old

  14. Archaic Period • As the Ice Age ended and the weather became warmer, life began changing for the prehistoric Indians of our area. • Scientists have divided the Archaic Period into three distinct time spans: • Early Archaic (8,000 B.C. to 5,000B.C) • Middle Archaic (5,000 B.C. to 4,000 B.C.) • Late Archaic (4,000 B.C. to 1,000 B.C.)

  15. Archaic • 8,000-1,000 B.C.

  16. In general, Indians of the Archaic Period worked and lived in larger groups and stayed in place longer than the Paleo-Indians did. • In the Early Archaic period, groups of Indians continued to follow their food sources.

  17. The Atlatl • One weapon used during the Archaic period was the atlatl, or spear thrower. The atlatl allowed the hunter to throw a light spear (called a dart) very far with a great amount of force.

  18. Archaic peoples turned from big-game hunting to the forest mammals like the white-tailed deer as well as to nuts and plant foods. They hunted turkeys and passenger pigeons, collected box turtles each spring, and freshwater fish and mussels were added to the diet. • By the Middle Archaic period, the area grew warm and dry. As a result, rivers and the water along the coasts receded, making it easier to gather oysters, mussels and other shellfish for food.

  19. Food • Smaller game such as deer, bear, rabbit • Berries • Fish, oysters, shellfish, reptiles

  20. Some evidence of this is the presence of middens. Middens are piles of shells that accumulated over time as families of Indians tossed their throw-away oyster and clam shells in the same pile.

  21. Dwellings • Semi-permanent structure • Evidence of semi-permanence – middens (garbage mounds made from discarded shells) – This suggests a return to the same area year after year

  22. A common tool of the Late Archaic period was the grooved axe. The grooved axe shows archaeologists that Late Archaic Indians cut down tress and probably cleared land around their camp sites.

  23. Tools & Weapons • Spears with Atlatl (spear thrower) • Knives, axes • Pottery comes into use

  24. Archaic Indians’ shelters were made of animal skins and wood, or woven sticks, but they were not permanent homes. At the most, they served as part of a temporary base camp.

  25. Pottery • In the Early Archaic period, Indians began carving bowls from solid rock.

  26. By the Late Archaic, some groups had discovered that containers could be made from clay. • What would be a benefit of having clay pots? • What would be a drawback?

  27. The Atlatl develops further • The atlatl is one weapon that was used for almost 30,000 years. (We have been using guns for less than 600 years!) • During the Archaic period atlatl technology improved and it became the primary weapon of the Archaic indians.

  28. How it works • The dart of an atlatl is usually a long piece of river cane or soft wood. When it is thrown, the dart “bends” and springs off the atlatl with tremendous force.

  29. Modern experiments show that an atlatl can help throw a dart over 800 feet, or at short ranges with a force strong enough to go through a 50-gallon drum!

  30. Why do you think the Archaic Indians started using a weapon that could be thrown a long distance? • Hint: What kind of animals did they hunt?

  31. Archaeological evidence shows that the Archaic Indians buried their dead with weapons, tools, and objects from everyday life. Does this suggest that they believed in an afterlife?

  32. Snapshots of Archaic-Indian Life

  33. Dates 8,000 – 1,000 B.C. Weapons Atlatl New tools invented to save time and effort spear points become smaller and sharper Grooved Axe – stone head w/ wood handle. Used primarily to chop wood / remove brush Food Hunted smaller game as period progresses Deer, bear, turkey, rabbit, birds, fish Fishing and gathering important Large remains of middens (trash heaps of shells ) found on Stallings Island in GA Clay pots to store and transport food in created--POTTERY Dwellings Small groups gathered to form larger groups of 50-100 Would move from season to season Semi-permanent housing w/ wooden poles covered by animal hides, branches, and bark Religion Proper burial of the dead seems to be important Tools, weapons, and ornaments found in tombs Things becoming more settled The Archaic Period

  34. Snapshots of Archaic-Indian Life Sapelo Island: Stallings Island: Located in the Savannah River eight miles upstream from Augusta, the sixteen-acre island is the namesake of Stallings Culture and its hallmark pottery, Stallings fiber-tempered wares, the oldest pottery in North America. Stallings Island, a National Historic Landmark site, was a major settlement of Late Archaic Native Americans from 4,500 to 3,500 years ago.