Woodland Period Archaeology


This exhibit showcases aspects of Virginia Indian material culture during the Early, Middle, and Late Woodland periods.  The artifacts in this exhibit date from 1200 B.C.E. to 1600 C.E.  

At the end of the Late Archaic period, Virginians were dispersed foragers who led mobile lifestyles.  That began to change during the Early Woodland period, when the first ceramics were developed in Virginia, a direct result of the production of soapstone bowls in the preceding centuries. These vessels would eventually diversify and become common across the state.  As people began to cultivate foods like gourd and squash in the Middle Woodland, they more and more often stayed in the same place instead of moving to different seasonal camps.  Their homes and communities coalesced to form hamlets and villages with tribal identities.  By the time Virginian Indians came into contact with Europeans, their society formed a dense and complex political landscape that varied from region to region.  Material culture flourished and diversified to include many different types of objects, many of which are produced by Virginia Indian artisans and craftspeople today.  This exhibit shows just a fraction of the artifacts that have been found at Woodland period sites across the state.