Archaic period (North America)

Copper knife, spearpoints, awls, and spud, from the Late Archaic period, Wisconsin, 3000–1000 BC

Period defined by the archaic stage of cultural development.

- Archaic period (North America)

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North America

Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere.

Map of populous North America showing physical, political and population characteristics as per 2018
Map of North America, from 1621
The totality of North America seen by the Apollo 16 crew, with Canada being covered by clouds
Landforms and land cover of North America
Sonoran Desert in Arizona
Moraine Lake in Banff National Park
Nuuk, the capital city of Greenland
Principal hydrological divides of Canada, the United States and Mexico
Geologic map of North America published by USGS
North America map of Köppen climate classification
Map of North America in 1702 showing forts, towns and (in solid colors) areas occupied by European settlements
Non-native nations' control and claims over North America c. 1750–2008
Native languages of the US, Canada, Greenland, and Northern Mexico
Percentage of people who identify with a religion in North America, according to 2010–2012 data
Mexican President Peña Nieto, U.S. President Trump, and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau sign the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 30 November 2018
Worlds regions by total wealth (in trillions USD), 2018
2006 map of the North American Class I railroad network
Baseball is traditionally known as America's national pastime, but is also played in Canada, and many Latin American countries as well.

The so-called Paleo-Indian period is taken to have lasted until about 10,000 years ago (the beginning of the Archaic or Meso-Indian period).

Pre-Columbian era

In the history of the Americas, the pre-Columbian era spans from the original settlement of North and South America in the Upper Paleolithic period through European colonization, which began with Christopher Columbus's voyage of 1492.

An Olmec colossal head at the Xalapa Museum of Anthropology, in Veracruz, Mexico
Schematic illustration of maternal (mtDNA) gene-flow in and out of Beringia, from 25,000 years ago to present
Major cultural areas of the pre-Columbian Americas:
Artist's reconstruction of Poverty Point, 1500 BCE
Hopewell mounds from the Mound City Group in Ohio
One of the pyramids in the upper level of Yaxchilán
Atlantes at Tula, Hidalgo
Maya architecture at Uxmal
Geoglyphs on deforested land in the Amazon rainforest
Muisca raft. The figure refers to the ceremony of the legend of El Dorado.
The ancient city of Caral
Larco Museum houses the largest private collection of pre-Columbian art. Lima, Peru.
Gate of the Sun in Tiwanaku

It finally stabilized by about 10,000 years ago; climatic conditions were then very similar to today's. Within this time frame, roughly pertaining to the Archaic Period, numerous archaeological cultures have been identified.

Platform mound

Any earthwork or mound intended to support a structure or activity.

The Kincaid Site in Massac Co., Illinois, showing platform mounds. Illustration by artist Herb Roe.
A diagram showing the various components of Eastern North American indigenous ceremonial substructure mounds
Temple Mount at Ocmulgee National Monument

The indigenous peoples of North America built substructure mounds for well over a thousand years, starting in the Archaic period and continuing through the Woodland period.


State in the Deep South and South Central regions of the United States.

Louisiana entrance sign off Interstate 20 in Madison Parish east of Tallulah
Watson Brake, the oldest mound complex in North America
Poverty Point UNESCO site
Troyville Earthworks, once the second tallest earthworks in North America
French Acadians, who came to be known as Cajuns, settled in southern Louisiana, especially along the banks of its major bayous.
Map of New France (blue color) in 1750, before the French and Indian War
Free woman of color with mixed-race daughter; late 18th-century collage painting, New Orleans
Saint Dominican Creoles
French pirate Jean Lafitte, who operated in New Orleans, was born in Port-au-Prince around 1782.
Map of Louisiana in 1800
Louisiana Purchase, 1803
'Signing the Ordinance of Secession of Louisiana, January 26, 1861', oil on canvas painting, 1861
Capture of New Orleans, April 1862, colored lithograph of engraving
A young African American man in Morganza, 1938
National Rice Festival, Crowley, Louisiana, 1938
View of flooded New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
Map of Louisiana
Aerial view of Louisiana's wetland habitats
A field of yellow wildflowers in St. Bernard Parish
Honey Island Swamp
Entrance to the Bald Eagle Nest Trail at South Toledo Bend State Park
Bogue Chitto State Park
Geographic map of Louisiana
Population density and low elevation coastal zones in the Mississippi River Delta. The Mississippi River Delta is especially vulnerable to sea level rise.
Louisiana's population density
Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis in New Orleans
Cargo ship at the Port of New Orleans
Tabasco varieties produced in Louisiana
Typical dishes of Louisiana Creole cuisine
El Museo de los Isleños (Isleño Museum) in Saint Bernard
The languages of historic Native American tribes who inhabited what is now Louisiana include: Tunica, Caddo, Natchez, Choctaw, Atakapa, Chitimacha and Houma.
Louisiana's bilingual state welcome sign, recognizing its French heritage
Aerial view of Louisiana State University's flagship campus
A streetcar on the St. Charles Avenue Line in New Orleans
Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near New Orleans
The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, the tallest state capitol building in the United States
The Louisiana Governor's Mansion
Treemap of the popular vote by parish, 2016 presidential election
Mardi Gras celebrations in the Spanish Town section of Baton Rouge
Caesars Superdome and Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

The area of Louisiana is the place of origin of the Mound Builders culture during the Middle Archaic period, in the 4th millennium BC.

Poverty Point

About the U.S. National Monument and Louisiana state historic site in the lower Mississippi valley.

Poverty Point 1938 aerial retouched
Mound A at Poverty Point
Steps (since removed) to top of Mound A
Mound B field
An overview of the Poverty Point site showing the locations of the nearby Motley and Lower Jackson mounds. Note North is to the right.
Barrels outline circular structures in the 37.5-acre (17.4 ha) plaza at Poverty Point
Artist's conception of the completely constructed site.
Decorative objects formed from loess soil, then fired, found at the Poverty Point site
Museum at Poverty Point
An aerial view of the earthworks at Poverty Point. Excerpt from USDA Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service aerial photograph CTK-2BB-125. Aerial photograph taken November 11, 1960.

The Poverty Point site contains earthen ridges and mounds, built by indigenous people between 1700 and 1100 BC during the Late Archaic period in North America.

Poverty Point culture

Archaeological culture of a prehistoric indigenous peoples who inhabited a portion of North America's lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding Gulf coast from about 1730 - 1350 BC.

An aerial view of the Poverty Point earthworks, built by the prehistoric Poverty Point culture, located in present-day Louisiana.
Artist's reconstruction
Map of site with 2008 structures
Swale with a flowing stream
Circular structure
Bayou Marçon waterway at left, ridges at right
Female effigies, clay
Atlatl weights and carved stone gorgets
Baked loess objects used in cooking, dating from 1650 and 700 BCE

Next oldest is the Poverty Point Culture, which thrived from 1730 - 1350 BC, during the late Archaic period in North America.

Watson Brake

Artist's conception of the Watson Brake Site
Schematic plan of the Watson Brake Site

Watson Brake is an archaeological site in present-day Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, from the Archaic period.

Oshara Tradition

Southwestern Archaic Tradition centered in the area now called New Mexico and Colorado.

Puebloan from San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico

Cynthia Irwin-Williams developed the sequence of Archaic culture for Oshara during her work in the Arroyo Cuervo area of northwestern New Mexico.

Cochise Tradition

The Cochise Tradition (also Cochise Culture) refers to the southern archeological tradition of the four Southwestern Archaic Traditions, in the present-day Southwestern United States.

Two archaeologists analyzing artifacts of Strawberry Valley unincorporated community and Forest City ghost town

The Cochise Tradition is part of the Picosa culture, which encapsulates the Archaic lifestyles of people from three locations with interconnected artifacts and lifestyles.


Historical region and cultural area in southern North America and most of Central America.

Mesoamerica and its cultural areas
Ballgame court at Monte Albán
A pair of swinging Remojadas figurines, Classic Veracruz culture, 300 to 900 CE.
Page 9 of the Dresden Codex (from the 1880 Förstermann edition)
El Mirador flourished from 600 BCE to 100 CE, and may have had a population of over 100,000.
Landscape of the Mesoamerican highlands
Yojoa Lake in Honduras.
Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites, urban centers, and tourist attractions of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala.
Olmec Colossal Head No. 3 1200–900 BCE
Pyramid of the Moon viewed from atop of the Pyramid of the Sun.
Xochicalco, Temple of the Feathered Serpent, 650–900 CE
Detail of the Nunnery Quadrangle at Uxmal, 10th century
Mesoamerica and Central America in the 16th century before Spanish arrival
Examples of the diversity of maize
The Aztec Empire in 1512
K'inich Kan B'alam II, the Classic period ruler of Palenque, as depicted on a stele
Illustration that recreates the structures of the archaeological site of Yarumela or El Chircal in Honduras, this place reflects the Olmec influence that existed in Central America in the pre-classic period.
"Head Variant" or "Patron Gods" glyphs for Maya days
The emblem glyph of Tikal (Mutal)
One of the earliest examples of the Mesoamerican writing systems, the Epi-Olmec script on the La Mojarra Stela 1 dated to around 150 CE. Mesoamerica is one of the five places in the world where writing has developed independently.
The xoloitzcuintle is one of the naguales of the god Quetzalcoatl. In this form, it helps the dead cross the Chicnahuapan, a river that separates the world of the living from the dead.
Zapotec mask of the Bat God.
Ritual human sacrifice portrayed in Codex Laud
A small ceremonial ballcourt at Uaxactun.
Ballgame marker from the classic Lowland Maya site of Chinkultic, Mexico depicting a ballplayer in full gear
The Avenue of the Dead in Teotihuacan, an example of a Mesoamerican settlement planned according to concepts of directionality
Art with ideological and political meaning: depiction of an Aztec tzompantli (skull-rack) from the Ramirez Codex
Holy Spirit Grotto
Joya de Cerén
Casa Blanca
San Andres
Sculpture of "The Acrobat" from Tlatilco
Pyramid of the archaeological site of La Venta 1000-400 BCE
Cuicuilco 800–600 BCE
The partly excavated main structure of San José Mogote 1500–500 BCE
Monte Albán, Building J in the foreground. 200 BCE – 200 CE
Great Goddess of Teotihuacan 200–500 CE
A reconstruction of Guachimontones, flourished from 200 to 400 CE
Temple of the Owl, Dzibanche 200–600 CE
Acanceh, 200–300 CE<ref>{{cite web|url=|title=Mesoweb Articles|}}</ref>
Mask located on the "Temple of the Masks" Kohunlich c. 500 CE
Main palace of Palenque, 7th century AD
K'inich Janaab Pakal I of Palenque 603–683 AD
Copan Stela H commissioned by Uaxaclajuun Ubʼaah Kʼawiil 695–738 AD
Jaina Island type figure (Maya) 650–800 AD
Cacaxtla, Mural depicting the Bird Man 650–900 AD
Chichen Itza, Temple of the Jaguars 900–1000 AD
Governor's Palace rear view and details, 10th century CE, Uxmal
Codz Poop, 7th–10th centuries CE Kabah
Sayil, three-story palace, 600–900 CE
Chichen Itza, "Temple of Three Dintels" 600–1000 CE
Palace of Mitla, Oaxaca 12th century
The Calendar temple of Tlatelolco, 1200 CE
Detail of page 20 from the Codex Zouche-Nuttall, 14–15th century
Pectoral mixtec, Shield of Yanhuitlan.
Aztec sun stone, early 16th century

For this reason, from the last centuries of the Archaic period (8000 BC– 1000 BC) onward, regions compensated for the environmental inadequacies by specializing in the extraction of certain abundant natural resources and then trading them for necessary unavailable resources through established commercial trade networks.