North Carolina Archaeological Regions
Archaeology of the Northwestern Piedmont
The northwestern Piedmont is that part of the North Carolina Piedmont drained by the middle portion of the Yadkin drainage. During the Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and Early and Middle Woodland periods, archaeology of the north central Piedmont is much like the rest of the Piedmont. After A.D. 1000 the local expression of the Piedmont Village Tradition is the Donnaha phase, which is related to the contemporary Dan River phase.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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 Late Woodland Period (A.D. 800 - 1600)
The Late Woodland across the Piedmont begins with the Uwharrie phase. After A.D. 1100, major cultural changes took place as regional manifestations of the Piedmont Village Tradition emerged. The local expression of the Piedmont Village Tradition in the northwestern Piedmont is the Donnaha phase.
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.
A sufficient number of contact period sites in the Piedmont have been excavated to allow an overview of the specific consequences of the interaction between tribes and Euro-Americans. Although these effects were certainly felt in the northwestern 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.