Articles

Eastern North American Archaeology: A Summary

Science  14 Apr 1967:
Vol. 156, Issue 3772, pp. 175-191
DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3772.175

Abstract

The initial occupation of Eastern North America was by small bands of people who gained their livelihood by hunting and gathering. As time passed, the occupants of different regions be came increasingly familiar with the available natural resources. The de velopment or introduction of new tools and devices enabled the people to ex ploit their environments more effective ly, until, by Late Archaic times, popu lation size had increased, in terms both of density within a given area and num ber of people in individual social units.

The initial agricultural productivity aided the culmination of the long cul tural traditions in the remarkable pro ductions and practices of the Hope wellian complexes of Middle Woodland times. The major Hopewellian centers reflect the marked change in societal organization and patterns. The costumes of the dead and the manner of their burial clearly reflect individual status differentiations, while artistic creativity is probably to be equated with incipient specialization of labor. Many of the Mississippian societies reached an even more advanced plateau of cultural de velopment, with fortified towns, an or ganized priesthood, dominant hereditary chiefs, political and military alliances, and a well-developed class system.

The details of the cultural develop ment in Eastern North America are unique, but the general trend may be regarded as a common one in human society, and the patterns of behavior, as analogous to those developed by other peoples in other areas of the Old World and the New.