Archaic culture


Archaic culture

 any of the ancient cultures of North or South America that developed from Paleo-Indian traditions and led to the adoption of agriculture. Archaic cultures are defined by a group of common characteristics rather than a particular time period or location; in Mesoamerica, Archaic cultures existed from approximately 8,000–2,000 BC, while some Archaic cultures in the Great Basin of the U.S. Southwest began at about the same time but persisted well into the 19th century. The primary characteristic of Archaic cultures is a change in subsistence and lifestyle; their Paleo-Indian predecessors were highly nomadic, specialized hunters and gatherers who relied on a few species of wild plants and game, but Archaic peoples lived in larger groups, were sedentary for part of the year, and partook of a highly varied diet that eventually included some cultivated foods. In these ways, Archaic cultures in the Americas are somewhat analogous to the Old World's Mesolithic (Mesolithic Period) cultures.

      Archaic peoples used a wide variety of food resources and based many of their choices on seasonal availability; food remains found at their archaeological sites include a range of mammals (including rabbits, antelope, deer, elk, moose, and bison), terrestrial and water birds, fish and shellfish, and plant foods such as tubers, roots, seeds, fruits, and nuts.

      Archaic peoples also created a number of tools not seen before in the Americas. Their use of new food sources and creation of new tool types probably developed in tandem, with innovations in each realm fostering additional developments in the other. Basketry and netting augmented the collection and storage of new plant foods, while grinding stones made hard seeds readily edible. Hunting was augmented with the development of tanged and side-notched projectile points (although lanceolate points persisted), atlatl weights, birding and small game nets, and fishhooks. As a more reliable subsistence base allowed the congregation of larger groups, people became more sedentary and social complexity increased.

      In the late Archaic people began to tend plants, albeit to a limited degree. In Northern America, Archaic peoples east of the Mississippi River focused on pigweed and related species, while groups in Mesoamerica worked with wild varieties of corn (maize) and those in South America worked with wild potato species. However, Archaic peoples continued to rely upon hunting and gathering for the majority of their food. When a population begins to place greater emphasis on food production and its associated technologies, it is generally said to have developed into a Woodland culture (Woodland cultures) (in the Eastern Woodlands, Southeast, and Plains culture areas of Northern America), an early Puebloan culture (in the North American Southwest; see Ancestral Pueblo (Ancestral Pueblo culture) [Anasazi] culture), or a Preclassic or Formative culture (in Mesoamerica and South America;see pre-Columbian civilizations).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Culture and Conflict in the Middle East — is a 2008 book by Philip Carl Salzman, a professor of Anthropology at McGill University. Culture and Conflict is an attempt to understand Middle Eastern politics and society as an outcome of the fact that tribal organization central to Arab… …   Wikipedia

  • Archaic period in the Americas — In the sequence of North American pre Columbian cultural stages first proposed by Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips in 1958,[1] the Archaic stage or Meso Indian period [2] was the second period of human occupation in the Americas, from around… …   Wikipedia

  • Archaic period in Greece — The archaic period in Greece (750 BCndash 480 BC) is a period of Ancient Greek history. The term originated in the 18th century and has been standard since. This term arose from the study of Greek art, where it refers to styles mainly of surface… …   Wikipedia

  • archaic — adjective Etymology: French or Greek; French archaïque, from Greek archaïkos, from archaios Date: 1832 1. having the characteristics of the language of the past and surviving chiefly in specialized uses < an archaic word > 2. of, relating to, or… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Culture of the United Kingdom — The Proms is an eight week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts, on the last night with some traditional patriotic music of the United Kingdom.[1][2] …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Greece — The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, beginning in Mycenaean Greece, continuing most notably into Classical Greece, through the influence of the Roman Empire and its Greek Eastern successor the Byzantine Empire. Foreign… …   Wikipedia

  • Archaic Period — The name Archaic Period is given by archaeologists to the earliest periods of a culture. In particular, it may refer to:* the Archaic period in the Americas (8000 BC ndash;1000 BC) * the Archaic period in Greece (750 BC ndash;480 BC) * the Early… …   Wikipedia

  • Archaic Southwest — The Archaic Southwest is a term used to describe the culture of the southwestern United States between 6500 BC and 200 AD (approximately).The Paleo Indian tradition before that dates from 10,500 BC to 7500 BC. The Southwestern United States… …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Kerala — The culture of Kerala is a synthesis of Dravidian and Aryan cultures, developed and mixed for centuries, under influences from other parts of India and abroad.[1] It is defined by its antiquity and the organic continuity sustained by the Malayali …   Wikipedia

  • archaic period — ➡ Pre Columbian North America * * * ▪ art history       in history and archaeology, the earliest phases of a culture; the term is most frequently used by art historians to denote the period of artistic development in Greece from about 650 to 480… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.