4th Millennium BCE in North American History

The 4th millennium BCE in North American history provides a timeline of events occurring within the North American continent from 4000 BCE through 3001 BCE in the Gregorian calendar. This time period (from 4000 BCE–3001 BCE) is known as the Middle Archaic. Although this timeline segment may include some European or other world events that profoundly influenced later American life, it focuses on developments within Native American communities. The archaeological records supplements indigenous recorded and oral history.

Because of the inaccuracies inherent in radiocarbon dating and in interpreting other elements of the archaeological record, most dates in this timeline represent approximations that may vary a century or more from source to source. The assumptions implicit in archaeological dating methods also may yield a general bias in the dating in this timeline.

  • 4000 BCE: Inhabitants of Mesoamerica cultivate maize (corn) while Peruvian natives cultivate beans and squash.
  • 4000–1000 BCE: Old Copper Complex emerges in the Great Lakes region
  • 3500 BCE: The largest, oldest drive site at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta, Canada.
  • 3500–3000 BCE: Construction of extensive mound complex built at Watson Brake in the floodplain of the Ouachita River near Monroe in northern Louisiana.
  • Shell ornaments and copper items at Indian Knoll, Kentucky evidence an extensive trade system over several millennia.
  • 3001 BCE: Cultivation of the sunflower and marsh elder begins in the American South; northeastern natives cultivate amaranth and marsh elder. After harvesting these plants, the people grind their seeds into flour.
  • 3001 BCE: The Cochise people of the American Southwest begin cultivating a primitive form of maize imported from Mesoamerica; common beans and squash follow later.
  • 3001 BCE: Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest begin to exploit shellfish resources.
  • 3001 BCE: Fishing in the Northwestern Plateau increases.
  • 3001 BCE: Natives speaking the Algonquian languages arrive in eastern Canada from the south.

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