Archaic Tradition Overview

Hunters and Gatherers
8,000 to 500 B.C.

The Archaic tradition lasted for a very long time, the longest of any of the periods in Wisconsin. Even though it is the longest period, very little has been investigated by archaeologists because very few sites have been discovered. The picture we have of these people is based on limited excavations in Wisconsin and information obtained from similar sites outside the state.

The Archaic tradition follows the Paleo tradition. People were changing from being highly mobile hunters to groups that could settle in one area and concentrate on that area. They could become familiar with the resources in their area, and become experts on exploiting them. The Archaic people were very successful in doing this, and their lifestyle didn't change for a long time because it was so successful.

The Archaic tradition first appears in the southern part of the state and later in the northern part of Wisconsin. This difference is probably because the glaciers had left southern Wisconsin long before they had melted from northern Wisconsin. People in each area adapted to their environment as it changed.