Early/Middle Archaic Culture

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Several families band together to prepare for the upcoming winter at an Archaic base camp on the Maumee River in northwest Ohio. Men and women can be seen carving dugout canoes using stone axes, building fires, fishing and grinding nuts for food storage along the bank. The scene is based on archaeological research from Archaic sites including the Dupont, Raisch-Smith, and Weilnau.

Early and Middle Archaic culture are terms archaeologists apply to the ancient American Indian people and cultures who were living in present-day Ohio and the surrounding areas between 10,000-8,000 before present (BP) and 8,000-5,000 BP respectively. Early and Middle Archaic culture are also terms of archaeological convenience used to refer to a time period that is characterized by the distinct cultural and technological characteristics of these cultural groups.

Characterized by a changing environment, as well as growing populations and technological changes, the Early Archaic period in Ohio took shape at the close of the Ice Age. Throughout the Archaic period, earth’s climate became increasingly warm, much like Ohio’s present climate with four distinct seasons. Early Archaic peoples lived in small groups of hunter-gatherers, following food sources as the seasons changed. Early Archaic peoples gathered berries, hickory nuts, and acorns, and hunted deer, turkeys, rabbits, passenger pigeons, and waterfowl, and fished. Growing populations and new food sources led to technological changes, especially a wider array of spear point types that may have had social significance.

During the Middle Archaic Period, American Indians continued to live as mobile hunter-gatherers, but began to form larger groups due to increased populations. Just like Early Archaic groups, Middle Archaic peoples crafted a diverse range of spear points, knives, and scraping tools, as well as grinding tools like grooved axes, atlatl weights, grinding stones, pitted stones, plummets, and net sinkers.

See Also


  1. Lepper, Bradley T. Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures. Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005.