The Paleo Period is the oldest of American time periods and existed from around 12,000 BC to 8000 BC. While the pre-history of other continents, such as Europe, Asia, and Africa, date back many millennia further, American history begins with Paleo Period.
Around 10,000 years ago, with the climate warming, large herd animals were now extinct, and the human population began growing rapidly. This was the beginning of the Archaic Period, known as the time of the "hunters and gatherers."
Beginning around 1000 BC and lasting until approximately 900 AD, the Woodland Period was a prosperous time for ancient Americans. The Woodland Period would become known to modern scholars as the period of the Mound Builders, with cultures such as the Adena and Hopewell learning to build earthen burial and ceremonial mounds.
The Mississippian Period (900 AD to 1450 AD) was a time of agricultural, artistic, and population development for Native America. Settlements ranged in size from small farmsteads to large villages; they often included ceremonial centers and growing populations.
The Historic Period (1650 AD - 1900 AD) explores the first wide-spread contact between Native Americans and Europeans. The Cheyenne, Sioux, and Cherokee tribes are all descendants of ancient people from earlier time periods.
The migration of ancient man did not stop at the current modern-day boundaries of North America. Ancient man continue to travel through Mexico, Central America, and into South America. These civilizations, referred to as Pre-Columbian cultures, established temples, pyramids, and cities in the time before the arrival of Columbus.
Take the Museum with You!
Love MONAH? Now you can take some of the collection home with the official museum book, Museum of Native American History, A Pictorial Journey by Museum Curator, Matt Rowe.