Era 1 Themes

ERA I HIGHLIGHTS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: geological formation of the land, changes in prehistoric peoples, the beginnings of New Hampshire history, the coming of explorers from Europe, the first meeting of cultures 

Geological evidence suggests that the continents were once part of the same land mass. Current theory surmises that they broke apart, collided, and moved away from one another during the formation of the world as we know it. During the last two million years the Atlantic Ocean has grown, and continues to grow bigger. It has flooded the land we call New Hampshire and contributed soil. Faults, folds, and volcanic activity have formed great mountain ridges. In the last two million years, glaciers covered New Hampshire four times, the latest being the Wisconsin period of glaciation that ended about 10,000 years ago. The glaciers carved wide river beds and deep mountain notches. They lopped off the tops of mountains and redeposited soil and boulders across the landscape. Erosion, too, wore away at the land. As the climate

became more mild. New Hampshire became a habitat for humans and species of animals that we would recognize. 

Archaeologists theorize that humans multiplied and spread south and east from their probable entry point to North America across a land bridge between Asia and Alaska at least 25,000 years ago.  Current archaeological evidence of the coming of humankind to New Hampshire goes back about 10,000 years, after the last glacier melted and the climate warmed. Evidence suggests that at least two different prehistoric peoples have populated New Hampshire, the second representing the Native Americans found here by European explorers after 1500. 

Native American pre-contact history in New Hampshire is divided into the Paleo-indian  (circa 11,000-9000 years Before Present ), Archaic (9000-3000 BP) and Woodland (3000-400 BP) periods, and contact (400-200 BP). 

Native American cultures diversified so greatly that no one description will represent their ways. Even within the land we call New Hampshire, the ways of Native Americans differed between tribes and changed over time. The Western Abenaki tribe subdivided into bands with different names, each band
associated with a general geographical area. In general, hunting large game animals gave way to hunting smaller game, as the larger animals became extinct. Tribes tended to become more settled and less nomadic as time went on, though they did make limited seasonal migrations to gather and grow food. Because of
climate and length of growing season, tribes in the north of New Hampshire probably engaged in more hunting while tribes in the south engaged in relatively more agriculture, although it is likely that agriculture never had the importance in pre-contact New Hampshire that it had further south in what we now call

Early European explorers grazed the coast of New Hampshire. Evidence suggests that the first Europeans in New Hampshire probably did not go far inland, but rather used the Isles of Shoals as seasonal fishing camps for processing fish before taking it back to Europe. The early encounters between Europeans
and Native Americans ranged from curious to friendly to warlike. The two worlds learned from each other, however, and the encounters changed both worlds forever. 

New Hampshire events were part of a bigger picture. Western Abenaki homelands in New
Hampshire and Vermont must be seen in relation to the territories staked out by the Eastern Abenaki in Maine to the east and the Iroquois to the west. Europeans came because of population pressures, political consolidations, economic ambitions, philosophical thought, Christian upheaval, and technological
applications in Europe. The coming of Africans must be seen in the context of European expansion into Africa and the enslavement of Africans.

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