Archaic Period village

The Archaic Period, 10,000–4,300 years ago

During this period, the climate warmed and broad-leafed trees filled the forests. A wide variety of nut-bearing trees (walnut, hickory, butternut and oaks with acorns) seed-producing grasses, edible roots and berries became available. Along with a variety of mammals (deer, beaver, bear and rabbit), birds (turkey and ducks) and fish (Atlantic sturgeon, shad and Atlantic salmon), there was a huge increase in the quantity of foods available to humans. A wide variety of tools, such as axes, adzes, the atlatl (spear thrower), grinding stones, net sinkers, harpoons and fish hooks were developed to exploit these resources. The environment was favorable and Native American bands increased in size to six or eight families (twenty-five men, women and children). The bands fluctuated in size depending on the foods being harvested. During spring fish migrations and fall nut harvests, these groups may have grown to twice this size. In winter, they broke into smaller groups to hunt deer and small game in upland camps. Towards the end of the Archaic period, there are indications that Native Americans began to focus on seed plants and may have been growing squash in small gardens to supplement their diet.

Read more about the Archaic Period diet at This Week in Pennsylvania Archaeology.