grew in Virginia so that diverse tribes now lived in
scattered, settled hamlets along major rivers that wound through
the mountain valleys and down through the Piedmont and the Coastal
example of the great diversity can be found in the Stone Mound
Burial culture in the northern Shenandoah Valley.
This culture, dating from 400 B.C. to A.D. 200, placed
hundreds of low stone mounds in clusters on ancient bluff-like
river terraces overlooking the floodplain.
Only a few people were buried with great ceremony in each
the Stone Mound people placed rare and sacred objects made from exotic materials
in the graves.
These objects included tubular and platform pipes, copper
beads, hematite cones, pendants, basalt celts, spear-throwing
stones, and caches of projectile points.
The people placed the objects within the mound for the
deceased to use on their afterlife journeys.
The few graves within each mound, the few clusters of mounds,
and the special objects suggest that the Stone Mound Burial culture
gave only higher-ranking people this preferential treatment.
the Middle Woodland period, the people slowly replaced their spears
with the bow and arrow as a hunting weapon.
Evidence for this change is found in smaller projectile
points, particularly the triangular shapes.
Further advances came as people redesigned the grooved
axe and used what is called a celt, or ungrooved axe.
Sleek and polished the celt enabled people to refine their
in the Middle Woodland and continuing into the Historic Period, people lavished their
artistic ability on their tobacco pipes.
Tobacco pipes in the Early Woodland Period resembled
large, straight cigars.
Later pipes were fashioned into exquisite effigy carvings
of birds and animals.
Most of the Late Woodland pipes were a short-stemmed elbow
type into which wood or reed stems were inserted.
Tobacco, introduced during the Late Woodland Period and
considered a gift from the gods, was reserved for reverent use
in medicinal and spiritual supplications.
In later times, particularly after contact with the Europeans,
smoking for pleasure developed among the Indians, and pipes became
number of developments point to the beginning of ranked cultures.
As the Middle Woodland people created specialized items
and increased their trade, status was bestowed on individuals
within a tribe.
Differential status led to a more complex, ranked social
image to enlarge
small hamlet, A.D. 350. Members contributed to the society
through assigned tasks—raising crops, processing animal hides,
making pottery and tools, and hunting. (Credit: Thomas R. Whyte,
F.H. McClung Museum Archives, Knoxville)
stone pendants worn around the neck were used for decoration and
perhaps as badges of rank.
celt enabled people to become more efficient at woodworking.