Macro-regional meadowood: a comparative approach to early woodland lithic tool production in the Maritimes and Ontario

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University of New Brunswick


For several decades, the Archaic─Woodland transition, and, in particular, interpretations of the Early Woodland Meadowood phenomenon, have been controversial aspects of the culture-history sequence for the Northeast. The focus of most past studies has been the identification of diagnostic artifacts, and the spatial and temporal distributions of these diagnostics, leading to conceptions of Meadowood as a homogenous phenomenon encompassing much of the Northeast. The distributions of these diagnostic artifact types have been interpreted at a macroregional scale using a variety of political, social and economic models. In the research reported here, I compared three spatially and chronologically constrained Early Woodland archaeological assemblages from interior New Brunswick (traditional Wolastoq’kew territory) and southern Ontario. I found that similar artifact forms were produced in the two areas during the Early Woodland period, using different lithic reduction strategies applied to different lithic material types. These differences may warrant a broader re-examination of the utility of the Meadowood concept in Maritime Peninsula prehistory.