The Archaeology of North Carolina

North Carolina Archaeological Regions

Northeastern Piedmont region

 

Archaeology of the Northeastern Piedmont

The northeastern Piedmont is that part of the North Carolina Piedmont drained by the upper portion of the Tar River and that part of the Roanoke River that flows through the North Carolina Piedmont. During the Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and Early and Middle Woodland periods, archaeology of the central Piedmont is much like the rest of the Piedmont. After A.D. 1000 the local expression of the Piedmont Village Tradition is known from early excavations at the Roanoke Rapids Reservoir where the Late Woodland period is represented by the Gaston ceramic series.

PALEO-INDIAN PERIOD

The Paleo-Indian is the time of the earliest generally accepted arrival of people in the southeastern United States - between 9000 and 10,000 B.C

Paleo-Indian Chronology in North Carolina

Archaeologists working in the Southeast use radiocarbon dating and differences in spear point forms and frequencies to tell time during the Paleo-Indian Period.

Paleo-Indian Settlement and Subsistence in North Carolina

Paleo-Indian settlers in the Southeast found a rapidly changing landscape. Current evidence suggests that many of extinctions of Late Pleistocene megafauna - including the horse, mastadon, and mammoth - were complete by 8500 B.C.

Piedmont Paleo-Indian

When Paleo-Indians first came into the Piedmont winters were harsher and summers cooler than today. For about 1000 years, both people and now-extinct Pleistocene animals co-existed in North Carolina.

ARCHAIC PERIOD

The Archaic Period (8000 - 1000 B.C.) covers over half of the timespan people have lived in North Carolina. This vast time has been explored by finding well-preserved deposits in rock-shelters and stratified, deeply-buried open sites.

The Archaic Period in the Piedmont

As in the preceding Paleo-Indian period, much more is known about the Archaic in the Piedmont than either the mountains or the coastal areas. In North Carolina, archaeologists were able to define long chronological sequences by excavating deeply buried, stratified sites in the alluvial floodplains of the Piedmont

WOODLAND AND MISSISSIPPIAN PERIOD

In North Carolina, the Woodland is divided into Early, Middle, and Late periods. Along the coast and through much of the Piedmont, the Late Woodland continues until the Contact period, while in the Appalachian Summit and in the Southern Piedmont, Mississippian and Mississippian-influenced societies developed after A.D. 1000.

Piedmont Tradition Early and Middle Woodland Periods (1000 B.C. - A.D. 800)

The Badin and Yadkin phases begin the Piedmont Village Tradition across the Piedmont.

Piedmont Tradition in the northeastern Piedmont (1000 B.C. - A.D. 800)

Early excavations in the Roanoke Rapids Reservoir defined a sequence of Woodland ceramics within the Piedmont Village Tradition.

THE CONTACT PERIOD

The time of contact between Indians living in North Carolina and Europeans arriving from Spain and England varied considerably across the state. Beginnings of these arrivals do not necessarily herald the beginnings of significant changes in the histories of North Carolina's tribes. However, overall, this was a time of sweeping and often devastating change.

Contact, Interaction, and Cultural Change in the Piedmont

In the latter half of the seventeenth century North Carolina's Indians felt the brunt of the European presence in their land. The initial advance of Europeans into the backcountry of North Carolina came from Tidewater Virginia, not coastal North Carolina. A sufficient number of contact period sites in the Piedmont have been excavated in regions adjacent to the northeastern Piedmont to allow an overview of the specific consequences of the interaction between tribes and Euro-Americans. Although these effects were certainly felt in the northeastern Piedmont, the contact period is better known in the north central Piedmont, the central Piedmont, and north into Virginia.

North Carolina today is the home of the largest Native American population east of the Mississippi River. The robust cultural diversity seen in the archaeological record of the last 12,000 years survives today in the tribal traditions of North Carolina's native peoples.

 

 

 

©2010 UNC-RLA