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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

1. Prehistoric and historic Native American occupation,   pp. 1-42


Page 5

up by the regression of the polar ice sheets. They entered this area when the Pleistocene was
coming to an end. As their world changed, they adapted and their cultures developed into the
Archaic Tradition.
The Archaic Tradition in the Eastern U.S. represents a long period of change and adaptation in
the post-glacial environments after 8 000 B.C. During the more than 7000 years of the Archaic
period, many cultural traits developed that were to have a significant impact on aboriginal
cultures into the historic period. The Archaic Tradition is divided into several temporal
periods: Early, Middle, Late, and Terminal. The developing Early Archaic cultures
overlapped with those of the Late Paleoindian period. During the Early Archaic the tradition
of large, well-made lanceolate points was replaced by the manufacture of a variety of stemmed
and notched point types. Various other stone tool forms such as scrapers and knives were also
prevalent. Some evidence for Early Archaic occupation of Wisconsin exists. The sites are
mostly represented by the surface recovery of Early Archaic projectile points. Intact sites such
as Airport Village (Baerreis 1953) and Havey (Nero 1955) in Dane County have Early Archaic
components. Several sites in the Lake Farms District near Madison also have Early Archaic
components represented in the lithic assemblage (Salkin 1979). The Bass site, a quarry located
in Grant County, may also contain an Early Archaic component (Stoltman 1986:211). While
undiscovered Early Archaic sites may exist, none have been reported for the land now
encompassing and immediately surrounding Janesville.
The Middle Archaic period saw a series of cultural and technological innovations that were to
have significant impact on the exploitation of the changing environment. The environment at
this time included rising temperatures and drier conditions. The hardwood forests advanced
northward and the prairies migrated to the east. The hardwood forest environments were well
suited for browsing animals and offered resources such as nuts and wild berries. This
environmental change may have been the cause of the significant rise in population during the
Middle Archaic period. Various innovations were developed in the eastern U.S. during this
period, including the use of the atlatl or spear thrower, copper tools, drills and a variety of
groundstone tools such as axes and celts. Groundstone technology was probably a response to the
exploitation of the hardwood forest areas. There is also evidence for increasing social
elaboration as indicated by the beginnings of mortuary ritualism in some areas and the use of
trade and status items. Sites of this period are more numerous and larger than those of the
Early Archaic in most areas of Wisconsin. Subsistence patterns at this time saw the beginnings
of what is termed Primary Forest Efficiency (Caldwell 1958). This was the broad-based use of
an environment that offered many different resources. Some focalization occurred in areas with
stable resources such as nuts and shellfish.
In Wisconsin, the Old Copper Tradition is an important Middle Archaic manifestation. The
Old Copper Tradition was originally identified as a mortuary complex. Later, excavations
indicated broader social implications. Excluding the northwestern corner, Old Copper sites are
distributed over most of Wisconsin. The distribution of copper artifacts is especially heavy in
the eastern portion of the state from the Fox and Wolf rivers northward to the Green Bay area.
Overstreet (1988:59) notes the rarity of Archaic-age copper implements above the mouth of the
Wisconsin River in the southwestern portion of the state. A range of copper artifacts is
characteristic of this tradition. These artifacts were annealed, cold hammered, or ground into
shape and were not smelted. Finished utilitarian forms included projectile points, knives,
semi-lunar ulus, and fishing gear. Finished decorative forms included C-shaped bracelets and
finger rings. Non-copper traits included the use of lithic side-notched points, drills, knives,
scrapers, various groundstone forms, and conical antler points. While copper artifacts are
known from a number of locations in Rock County, none have been recovered from the Janesville
area.
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation


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