The Transitional and Early Woodland Periods, 4,300–2,100 years ago
This began as a warm and dry period, which caused periodic food shortages. It ended as generally a warm and wet period and included the spread of chestnut trees in the Pennsylvania forest. Native American families continued to eat a wide variety of mammals, birds, fish, roots, seeds, nuts and berries. Some of these foods, such as red oak acorns and seed plants, required more work to process and this suggests that families were working harder at subsistence. Trade with other groups was common and there are indications that families were organized differently to efficiently exploit a variety of resources. Carved stone bowls were used to increase the efficiency of processing foods during the Transitional Period, an indication that Native American populations were growing beyond the carrying capacity of the environment. Band size continued to change based on seasonally available foods but the spring fishing camp may have contained ten to twelve families (more than 50 men, women and children). Clay pottery was introduced at the end of the Transitional period and suggests that families were more sedentary. In addition, it is believed that they were increasingly cultivating plants in small gardens such as squash, little barley, knotweed and lambs quarter. This was the beginning of farming in Pennsylvania and it probably significantly changed family organization.
Read more about the Transitional Period diet at This Week in Pennsylvania Archaeology.