Local Prehistory through the lens of artifacts unearthed by Temple Archaeologists
At least 16,000 years ago, a small group of nomadic Paleoindians, carrying distinctive tools that connected them to their distant Siberian origins, traveled along a forested river path skirting glaciers that still covered northern Pennsylvania .
Briefly suspending their perpetual pursuit of widely ranging megafauna and seasonably available plant foods, these first people camped at Medowcroft Rockshelter in modern Washington County, PA. They left behind high-quality stone tools and heavily cut and burned deer bone, which provided our earliest evidence for human occupation in North America. Highly mobile, wide-ranging, and sparsely distributed PaleoIndian family groups moved frequently across the Late Pleistocene landscape in response to the constantly changing distribution of plant and animal food resources.
The end of the last Ice Age brought about a series of rapid environmental damages associated with climatic warming. Dramatic shifts in the distribution of plant communities replaced barren tundra with dense, coniferous (and later deciduous) forests. Rich resources supported diverse animal communities and enhanced the range of potential foods available to Archaic human populations, likely living in larger groups, hunted and foraged across smaller territories. However, technological innovation increased the efficiency of hunting in the enclosed forest environment, the collection and processing of plant resources, as well as the harvesting of fish. Stone tools and weapons provide a tangible record of human adaptation and response to climate change.