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Archaic Period (10,000 - 2,500 Before the Present)

The Archaic Period in Ohio spans from the end of the last Ice Age to the beginnings of agriculture 2,500 years ago. The climate changed dramatically at several points during this long period of time. As climatic conditions shifted, people adapted. They ate different types of foods, moved over smaller areas, and slowly began to settle in semi-permanent camps.

As mobility decreased, people began to adjust to the specific living conditions of their region. Some, for instance, relied heavily on shellfish. Others exploited acorns and nuts. Shelter consisted of bark- or hide-covered tents, which evolved into sturdier, more permanent houses. Eventually, distinctive regional cultural expressions emerged.

Archaic peoples created new kinds of tools. Sturdy granite axes allowed them to fell and hollow trees for use as canoes. Atlatls (spear throwers) helped increase the force and accuracy of projectiles, revolutionizing hunting. People began to grind stone to shape weights, sinkers, and jewelry. Late in this period, people began developing trade routes, bringing new materials and ideas to people throughout Ohio.

Some trade materials were manufactured into decorative items used to demonstrate the status of leaders. Such items were often buried with important individuals, presumably as a show of respect.

By the end of the Archaic Period, people began to use domesticated crops and to produce pottery. Archeologists know much more about people living in Ohio during the Archaic Period than they know about people in the Paleoindian Period.