Archaic Culture Period

Archaic Culture Period

Excerpts taken from Sun Circles and Human Hands (1957) by Emma Lila Fundaburk and Mary Douglass Fundaburk Foreman.

As centuries passed and primitives gained more knowledge of their surroundings, a slow progression of changes in their economic habits and habitation sites resulted. To supplement the food supply, they learned to gather mussels from the river shoals and bivalves from the flats and bays and coastal areas. These shells were discarded in gradually mounting heaps along the banks of rivers, bays and coasts. Upon the rising heaps of shells natives built temporary huts of poles, hide and brush; they dug fire pits, lined them with river pebbles, dumped in bivalves, and broiled them over the hot stones and coals; they probably heated stones and dropped then into stone, wooden or leather containers to heat food. The many broken river pebbles found at many Archaic sites may have resulted from such practices. In outdoor kitchens or temporary huts Archaic people probably stored small quantities of roots, bark, berries, nuts and dried meat.

A distinctive feature of the Archaic Period was the occurrence of "flint workshops" in the shell middens. At many sites in the Tennessee Valley area, these occurred during the Middle Archaic Period; below that level, there was only a limited amount of chipped flint in the midden. The flint workshops were covered with chips, spalls, cores, broken points and rejects. Hammer stones and evidence of percussion chipping were found. In addition to chipped points, the Archaic natives developed a variety of other chipped tools, including drills, scrapers, knives and celts.


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