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The Carolina Piedmont during the Woodland Period
by Ron L. Harris, Hickory, North Carolina
Originally Published in the Central States Archaeological Journal, Vol.56, No.4, pg.200
Originally Published in the Central States Archaeological Journal, Vol.57, No.3, pg.120

Above: Figure 1. Woodland clay pipe 2 1/2 inches in length, Catawba County, North Carolina

The Woodland Period in the Carolina Piedmont begun about 1000 BC and ended sometime around AD 1200 according to archaeological research. During this period of prehistory, the Woodland culture was more settled in their way of life as compared to the earlier Archaic and Paleo people. Although they continued to "hunt & gather", these Woodland people had a tendency to settle in larg­er, semi-permanent villages along stream valleys, where soil was suitable for planting and harvesting practices.

Behavior that distinguishes the Archaic Period from the Woodland includes burying of the dead with rituals, the use of smoking pipes (see Figure 1.), and greater complexity of populations and so­ciety. However, the most distinguishable artifact that separates the Archaic from the Woodland Pe­riod is pottery (ceramic vessels) that first began to appear on Woodland sites (see Figure 2.). These vessels were used for the preparation and storage of foods the Indians had gathered by hunting, fish ing and crop cultivation. Woodland people grew corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and tobacco.

It was during this period that the bow and arrow was first introduced into the Carolina Piedmont. Small triangular arrow points, suitable in terms of size and weight for attachment to arrow shafts, were recovered for the first time on Woodland sites and presents evidence as to the initial use of the bow and arrow, which replaced the atlatl tool tech­nology during this period.



Left:: Figure 2. Woodland fabric wrapped vessel, Yadkin County, North Carolina Right: Figure 3. 3A  Grooved Axe - Early Carolina Woodland

Diagnostic projectile point types for the Wood­land Period in the Piedmont include; Badin, Yad­kin, Pee Dee, Uwharrie and Caraway. These are the first "true" arrowheads. Three-quarter grooved stone axes (see Figure 3.) and celts (see Figure 4.) came into use during this period, replacing the earlier full-groove axes of the Archaic Period. These axes or celts (groove less axes) were generally used for woodworking and tree clearing. Woodland cultures dominated most of the Carolinas well into the Historic Period.

There is some indication that a few cultural elements of the late Woodland people adopted religious and political ideas from a fourth major prehistoric tradition that is called "Mississippian." Archaeologists recognize certain patterns of arti­facts, settlement plans and economics that distin­guish Mississippian Indian culture from the earlier and perhaps contemporary Woodland occupations. The Mississippian association is the Pee Dee In­dians who constructed and occupied the major re­gional mound center at Town Creek (Montgomery County, N.C.) and the ancestral Cherokee groups of the western North Carolina mountains. Other than these exceptions, the Mississippian culture or way of life was not a major consideration in the N.C. Piedmont.


Above: Figure 4.  Late Woodland Celts (groove-less axes)



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