Population Reduction and Relocation during the Middle Archaic (8450 – 5950 B.P.): An Introduction to a Recent statewide Review of Ohio's Archaic Period

Matthew P. Purtill, Gray & Pape, Inc.

In early December of 2004, 39 regional archaeologists representing eight Midwestern states, southern Ontario, and the greater Southeast, convened at the Urbana Conference on the Archaic Societies of the Midcontinent in Urbana, Illinois. The purpose of this conference, and forthcoming monograph, was to provide an updated synthesis of Archaic societies across the greater Midwest. As part of this conference, a modern assessment of the Archaic period in Ohio was conducted – the first statewide review since 1970. Analyses included consideration of cultural taxonomy, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, material culture, settlement patterning, subsistence strategies, and ceremonial regimes. A major proposal of this review is that substantial population reduction/relocation occurred throughout Ohio during the Middle Archaic period (8450 – 5950 B.P.). This paper presents the archaeological evidence used to make this argument and suggests that an unpredictable climate likely played a key role in precipitating culture change.

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