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They depicted animals and people, in both abstract and realistic forms, in single works and more elaborate panels.
A common subject was the hunchbacked flute player that the Hopi call Kokopelli.
The late Archaic is marked by increased trade in exotic materials such as obsidian and turquoise.
Marine shells and abalone from the Pacific coast made their way to Mesa Verde from Arizona, and the Archaic people worked them into necklaces and pendants.
The early Archaic people living near Mesa Verde utilized the atlatl and harvested a wider variety of plants and animals than the Paleo-Indians had, while retaining their primarily nomadic lifestyle.
They inhabited the outlying areas of the Mesa Verde region, but also the mountains, mesa tops, and canyons, where they created rockshelters and rock art, and left evidence of animal processing and chert knapping.
By the late Archaic, more people were living in semi-permanent rockshelters that preserved perishable goods such as baskets, sandals, and mats.
By 1000 BCE, the Basketmaker culture emerged from the local Archaic population, and by 750 CE the Ancestral Puebloans had developed from the Basketmaker culture.
Development of the atlatl during this period made it easier for them to hunt smaller game, a crucial advance at a time when most of the region's big game had disappeared from the landscape.
6000 BCE marks the beginning of the Archaic period in North America.
Archaeologists differ as to the origin of the Mesa Verde Archaic population; some believe they developed exclusively from local Paleo-Indians, called the Foothills Mountain Complex, but others suggest that the variety of projectile points found in Mesa Verde indicates influence from surrounding areas, including the Great Basin, the San Juan Basin, and the Rio Grande Valley.
The Archaic people probably developed locally, but were also influenced by contact, trade, and intermarriage with immigrants from these outlying areas.
Rock art flourished, and people lived in rudimentary houses made of mud and wood.