11500 BC to 600 BC
The earliest settlers to arrive in the New England area appeared - based on radiocarbon dating. Prior to that, perhaps as early as 16,000 years ago, early nomads had probably explored the area in the warmer months, leaving seasonally with the first indications of snow fall. The first inhabitants took up residence in New England - probably first entering the area by trailing large game, such a caribou, perhaps even mastodons, mammoths, musk ox and giant beaver as well - in the post glacial period. As trees, grasses and diverse vegetation gradually replaced the tundra and the larger animals left the area, cultivation of foodstuffs became a more dependable food supply than the persuit of the vanishing big game.
The melting had resulted in the edge of the ice sheet moving much further northward near to the present day border with Canada. Over time these first crossings of the Bering Strait would eventually lead to the populating of all of both North and South America even reaching into our northeast corner here in New England.
Most of New England was still covered by ice sheets several miles thick with the exception of southern Massachusetts and below but it had begun to melt and would do so rapidly.
The Indians of Mexico, Central America and western South America first began serious agricultural cultivation growing maize and beans - this new agriculture gradually spread throughout the continents but it took several thousand more years for the agricultural practices to become well established with our local New England tribes. Seventeen of today's top 72 vegatables originated in the America's as well as many fruits, nuts, seeds and medicinal plants. New England contributed to the early pharmacopoeia by introducing witch hazel, slippery elm and sassafras.