Woodland Culture Period

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

Population continued to grow and to spread from the largest streams to the smaller creeks and quiet sloughs. This spread of the more numerous Woodland population probably accelerated as the bow and arrow gradually displaced the throwing stick. Near these secluded village sites, the Woodland people constructed burial mounds to hold their dead. These relatively small mounds, often conical in shape, were sometimes near a river; frequently there were two or more such mound together. The number of burials in a mound varied from one two several dozen; some were single interments, others were multiple burials on the same or different prepared surfaces. Some of the burial mounds were constructed over a period of time, and built up in several layers; occasionally shells, clay logs, or stone slabs separated the layers or were placed around the individual or mass graves. A prominent feature of this specialized burial custom was the placement of ornaments and tools with the bodies. The tools and ornaments of the Woodland people were similar to those of the Archaic culture, but they were more varied and often showed finer workmanship. Their tools included chipped drills, knives, celts, scrappers, axes and a variety of smaller projectile points. A new addition to the tool assemblage was the large chipped green stone, limestone or flint spade; the presence of the spade may have indicated a rudimentary agricultural development; however, it was probably used for digging graves, scooping soil for burial mound fills and excavating post holes for house framing. These spades are sometimes found in the graves under the skull of the skeleton or in the fill of the mound. Specialized pecked, ground and polished stone articles found with Woodland remains were poled celts; plummets - net sinkers or ornaments; pipes - elbow, platform and occasional zoomorphic forms; medicine tubes; boat stones; expanding center gorgets; and a few ornamental or ceremonial effigies. Many Archaic-introduced tools, as stone axes, continued to be used.

Copper artifacts increased in number and variety; they included reel-shaped objects, chisels, celts, bicymbal ear spools, dried beads, bracelets, rolled-sheet beads (tubes), a few copper plated objects (over stone or wood), including ear spools and gorgets. Galena, mica, hematite, tar, red ochre, and asphalt have also been found in Woodland graves. Bone and antler tools, as skeletal remains, are much rarer that at Archaic sites; such tools were probably extensively used, but have decayed.

Shells other than mussel were more numerous at Woodland than at Archaic sites. Marginella and olivella shells are numerous at some sites. Pearl beads and turtle carapaces have also been found. In addition to couch shell beads, conch dippers are a significant burial deposit. Shell tools have also occurred at some Woodland sites. The Woodland people doubtless made extensive use of wood also; fragments and impression of mats, baskets and house frames are frequently found.


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