Section Three: Archaic Period
By about 8000 B.C., the Ice Age glaciers had drawn back into Canada. The wild rivers of southern Ohio slowly became more calm. Along their banks vast forests of oak, hickory, beech, and elm flourished in the fertile soils. Pine and spruce forests grew on the uplands. After new soil developed on the ice-scoured plains of western Ohio, oak forests and grasslands appeared. In the southeastern part of the state, where there had been no glaciers, hardwood trees still grew. Elm and ash forests developed in the low, marshy Lake Plains of northwestern Ohio. Slightly higher regions became grasslands. Grasses along with elm and ash forests may have spread into the still-dry western Lake Erie basin. Mixed oak and beech forests grew in northeastern Ohio. Throughout Ohio there was much more food for animals and people than during the Ice Age. Thus, their numbers and ranges no doubt grew.
The Archaic (ar-kay-ik) Indians who lived in Ohio between about 8000 and 500 B.C. are set apart from the earlier Paleoindians partly because their spear points were different. However, certain "transitional" types of points suggest a slow shift from one culture to the other. Some types of well-made Archaic points show that the flint-working techniques of the Paleoindians were carried forward. However, later changes by the Archaic Indians marked them as a distinct group.
The term "Archaic" describes hunting and gathering societies who did not farm, make ceramics, or live at permanent sites. Still, Archaic groups were not culturally-poor. According to recent research, Archaic people had comfortable lifestyles, especially where there were many resources. Indeed, studies in various parts of the world have shown that some hunting and gathering groups living today spend less time getting food than do farmers.