Anthropology/Archaeology

Cultivated Plants

Image of several plants cultivated by native people.
Given how crucial they were in the development of North American agriculture, it's ironic that today these plants are considered to be unexceptional. Two of the specimens were collected along roadsides, and one was collected along a railroad right of way. Another is referred to, without ceremony, as a weed. But these plants sowed the seeds of what would be the domestication of plants, a change that laid the foundation for agricultural societies to develop.

Atlatl

Image of Atlatl hook

Atlatl hook Pike Co., ~ 2,000 years old

The Atlatl (derived from the Aztec word Nahuatl, which means spear thrower) was a simple device that helped hunters magnify the force with which they could propel a spear. This invention made its appearance at least 10,000 years ago (8,000 B.C.) and was in wide use during the Archaic Period (8,000 to 1,000 B.C.).

Koster Dog

Image of Dog burial
No one knows for sure when wolves and human beings officially began their mutually beneficial partnership, but some of the oldest known domesticated dogs in North America were found at the Koster Site in Greene County. The remains of four dogs were intentionally buried near human burials there about 8,500 years ago.

Clovis Spear Point/Knife

Image of Clovis point
The specimen illustrated here was found in Jersey County, Illinois, near an ancient stone quarry where spear points were made and repaired. It is about four inches long. The shallow groove, or flute, extending from the base of the point made it possible to more securely attach the point to a spear shaft. The point had to be secure.

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