Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Story of Formative Stage

An early sub-stage of the Formative is period called Woodland, which lasted from about 500 BC to roughly AD 1000 and was characterized by ceremonialism; people of this period made burial mounds and used crude, often cord-marked pottery. The Woodland was followed, especially in the U.S. South and Southeast, by a second sub-stage, distinguished by temple mounds, more advanced agriculture, incised pottery, and large palisaded villages, similar to those of the later Classic stage.

Perhaps the most typical culture of the Formative stage, however, is that of the Pueblo of the U.S. Southwest and their various predecessors, including the Cliff Dwellers (agricultural villagers, who planted corn, beans, and squash and made beautiful black-and-white and polychrome pottery with geometric designs). Among the Pueblo, the Formative stage lasted from about the beginning of the Christian era up until the present.

Contemporaneous with the Pueblo in the eastern U.S. were people who used unpainted pottery and practiced subsistence agriculture. Although they grew the same plants, their farming was less intensive, and their villagers were not built of stone or clay but of wood and bark.

Among the peoples of the Great Plains of the U.S. and Canada, the Formative stage started later than elsewhere, even after time of Christ. These people also made crude, unpainted pottery, but many of them had little or no agriculture; their economy was based on buffalo hunting. Only along the Missouri River did large villages and agriculture develop just before historic times.

Farther north were other groups that appeared to be of the Formative stage but really were not. The Inuit, for example, used pottery, and both they and the Aleuts lived in villagers, but instead of agriculture, they developed a maritime economy based on whale hunting.

The people on the northwest coast also looked toward the sea for their subsistence; they used even better sea-craft and lived in plank-house villages. They had no pottery. However, they are famous for their totem poles and other carved wooden objects. Because none of these groups had any agriculture – the major trait of the Formative stage – they were actually highly developed Archaics.

The real Formative stage was found mainly in and on both sides of Central America, in the nuclear area from Mexico to Peru. The peoples of this area developed village life, with permanent houses, distinctive pyramids, well-painted pottery, and clay figurines. They practiced a subsistence agriculture that included many other species besides their staples – corn, beans, and squash. In Mexico, they grew amaranth, avocado, runner beans, and several other plants. In Central America, northern South America, and the Antilles manioc, or tapioca, was added to the three basics. In Peru, potatoes, peanuts, and quinoa were cultivated, and the Ilama, alpaca, guinea pig, and Muscovy duck were all domesticated.

In the nuclear area, all these developments of the Formative stage ripened in the more complex cultures of the later stages, but outside it – for example, to the south, in the Amazon, northern Chile, and Argentina – villagers remained who maintained the Formative way to life up to historic times.

Thank you for visiting SurayBlog


Thomas said...

I got no comment for this Sir!! I got E on my history examination.

BillyWarhol said...


any Earlier Civilizations??


Suray said...

@billywarhol: Yeah, you check it out at

Useful Posts