Date: The Middle Woodland Period in the eastern United States Introduction The woodland period was a transition period falling between the ancient hunters and gatherers and the agriculturalists. The period was in three phases: early, middle and late woodland but the middle period had the highest transitions and cultural growth of the three periods…
The specific cultural traits that brought about the distinguishing difference as well as the explanations as to why the attributes were unsustainable to the late woodland people is discussed below in detail. What cultural traits are commonly used to define the Middle Woodland as a particularly progressive era in comparison to the Early Woodland? There are several cultural traits but all of which can be attributed to one cultural practice which was one of the most influential in this era and which made this middle woodland period experience immense cultural growth and cultural boom. There were widespread Hopewell practices with influence in the burial ceremonies, settlement, pottery, agriculture, ornament making using different materials among other practices. During the early woodland period, burying of the dead was not marked by making mounds on the burial sites but this was introduced during the middle woodland period as a sign of respect and to prevent people from occupying that land. With the changes and improvements in the burial ceremony, there was introduction of mortuaries where bodies and bones of important people were stored awaiting proper burial in mass graves during special events in the community. This brought about status differences of the dead from the previous period and with it came social complexity (Sutton and Yohe, 289). There was marked improvement in the pottery making and the making of other ornaments in terms of materials being used. The early woodland period ornaments were made from stones and a few shells towards the end of the period. With the middle woodland period, stones were replaced with shells, copper, mica among other materials. This was accompanied by improvement in the skills of making these ornaments and even pottery. The other major cultural trait that indicates progress of this period compared to the previous period was in terms of settlement. Previously, settlements were scattered and not very complex. Concentration was also paid to the external of the settlements more than the internal but this changed. More concentration was paid to the internal of the settlement areas hence starting to decorate them. People started grouping themselves instead of living separately which brought about the issue of social complexity that had not been witnessed before. The grouping of the people started developments of centers and markets and even roads (Neusius and Gross, 477). What explanations have been given as to why the attributes that defined this era were apparently unsustainable among Late Woodland peoples? The late woodland period though expected to be even better in terms of cultural growth was below the middle woodland period. The main reason for this and which almost the root of all the other reasons is the settlement dispersion. Unlike in the middle woodland period where people settled together in large groups hence helping each other and freeing lands for agricultural use, this late period saw the populations disperse into different areas. This led to abandonment of some cultural practices like the ornament making, pottery and agricultural farming of subsistence foods like maize. The discovery and increase in horticulture also led to the change of the ...
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