Archaic Period

Archaic Period (8000 BC-1000 BC)

Three Quarter Grooved AxeLarge game animals are becoming scarcer in the Americas. Mammoths and mastodons are extinct by 7000 BC. Diets evolve to include more plant resources: leaves, stems and roots. Extended family groups wander the Americas seasonally in search of game and vegetation. Temporary camps are established: on high points of ground in summer; in valleys and canyons in winter. Crossbows, bows and arrows, and atl atls (counterweighted spear-throwing sticks fashioned of wood and bone) are common. Atl atls enable hunters to throw spears three hundred feet, a clear advantage from the old, fixed spear of the Paleo period, forcing hunters to engage their prey at point blank range with many hunters dying in the attempt. Distinctive types of arrowheads and spear points, native to a particular region, indicate the beginnings of settlements (ex.: The Hardin barbed point, manufactured in the Midwest). Trails are established that will exist into the Nineteenth Century, only to become roads (ex: Lincoln Avenue, Route 120, Sheridan Road, in the Chicago area). Strangers occasionally meet on these trails, no doubt trading goods and establishing trade routes. There still is no evidence of war or hostilities, an evolving human reaction to limited land and resources; people cooperate for the greater good.

Animism (a religion, in which non-human entities possess a spiritual essence: animals, plants, and often even inanimate objects or phenomena) is apparent in the animal-shaped stone tools, amulets and monuments of the period. Sacred sites carved from granite abound, as large gatherings of people appear to celebrate the Solstice. In Illinois, along now-Route 120 in Lake County, a large ‘Stonehenge,’ consisting of three carved, tall granite obelisks, has been discovered.

The first Egyptian pyramids are built, 2600 BC. Cuneiform writing, Babylonian Empire, 2800.