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Prehistoric Archaeology

IndianFor 12,000 years before the Europeans came, nomadic bands roamed our Parklands, collecting their natural resources on seasonal food-gathering rounds. First came Paleo-lithic hunters who made exotic fluted points to stalk roving herds of woodlandbison, elk, and moose. About 6000 B.C., a more modern climate dominated and deer became a major food source. These new Archaic or hunting and gathering peoples' change to smaller notched points may reflect this new deer-hunting strategy.

We have yet to uncover why three-fourths of the spear points found in the County come from these Late Archaic groups (4000 to 1000 B.C.). Was it the growing population or a more favorable environment that attracted them? After 1000 A.D., more westerly peoples expanded down the Potomac and lived in Woodland agricultural villages, which all but disappeared by 1500 A.D. Between then and European contact, the County was a buffer zone or "no man's land" between the Algonquian tribes of Southern Maryland and the western Shawnee or more northern Iroquoian ones, such as the Seneca.

Drawing by John White

Last updated: June 17, 2009