Early Civilizations: The First Peoples

This era examines the history of the people who occupied the area known today as Mississippi. The period spans over 12,000 years, from the time of their earliest apparent habitation until their encounter with Europeans.

This era is sometimes called prehistoric because there are no written records, but American Indians use the more accurate term “precontact” to refer to the time before encounters with Europeans. Information about precontact culture is derived mainly from archaeological discoveries and oral traditions. Archaeologists study ancient cultures from the material remains that people left behind, such as tools, buildings, artifacts, artwork, settlements, mounds and other structures, trash, and burials. Oral histories passed down by American Indians are another way to study this precontact era.

Mississippi precontact era is divided into four broad periods:

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