The Archaeology of North Carolina

North Carolina Archaeological Time

The Woodland and Mississippian Periods in North Carolina

Coastal Woodland || Piedmont Tradition Early/Middle Woodland   ||  Piedmont Tradition Late Woodland   ||  Southern Piedmont Late Woodland  ||  Appalachian Summit Woodland   ||  South Appalachian Mississippian

The Woodland Period on the Coast and Coastal Plain

The North Carolina coast and coastal plain are divided into northern and southern parts. In terms of subsistence, the northern region provided far better access to estuarine resources than the south, but the south offered an environment better protected against the extremes of wind and cold.

The Woodland period in the coastal regions of North Carolina was marked by continuity, and the changes that occurred were typically gradual in nature. There were few differences between Late Archaic and Early Woodland cultural traditions and Woodland period changes in technology, subsistence, and political organization seem almost impercetible and reflect few outside influences. Differences between Middle Woodland and Late Woodland cultural patterns are sharp, but then from A.D. 800 until the first contacts with Europeans was again a period of stability and continuity.

Early Woodland (1000 - 300 B.C.)

Most of what is known about the Early Woodland period comes from ceramic studies. Because few Early Woodland components have been isolated stratigraphically, it is not possible to clarify interregional temporal relationships, and little is known about Early Woodland settlement and subsistence in coastal regions.

Middle Woodland (300 B.C. - A.D. 800)

Two Middle Woodland phases have been defined in North Carolina's coastal regions. Numerous sand burial mounds dating to the Middle Woodland period are present in the southern inner Coastal Plain.

Late Woodland (A.D. 800 - 1650)

During the Late Woodland period, physical, cultural, and linguistic differences emerged that can be traced to the ethnohistorically documented tribes who occupied the coast at the time of European contact.

North Carolina Coastal Plain Woodland sites
Woodland sites of the North Carolina Coastal Plain.
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