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POVERTY POINT Earthworks

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Bianca
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« on: June 15, 2009, 08:23:43 am »











                                                Poverty Point dig a dirty job


                              Magnetic fields provide students with exciting excavation






By Robbie Evans
revans@thenewsstar.com
• June 15, 2009



— Centimeter by agonizing centimeter, Leah Sellers uses a miniature trowel to scrape away thousands of years of history contained in a small 2-meter-by-1-meter rectangular hole.


Kneeling, Sellers looks intently into the 2-foot-deep hole for the slightest color variations in the soil. If Sellers — along with more than a dozen fellow geology students from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and Mississippi State University — finds lighter colored soil in the red clay, it could signal her first geological find and the most significant discovery at the Poverty Point Commemorative area in decades.

The students are part of a joint project between the universities to excavate an area of the Poverty Point State Historic Site previously believed to be devoid of any significant features.

Poverty Point is one of the most significant archeological sites in the western hemisphere. It dates back from 1800 to 1400 B.C.

Scientists using state-of-the-art technology called magnetic gradiometry have detected small variations in the magnetic field and provided the universities with maps indicating the presence of earthen circles 80-to-160 feet wide beneath the surface of the ground.

"What we want to do here this month is to examine those circles and find out what is causing those kinds of differences in the magnetic field and whether they are structures," said Diana Greenlee, Poverty Point Station archeologist and ULM geosciences faculty member. "It's very exciting."
Central construction of the site consists of six rows of concentric ridges, which at one time were 5-feet high. The five aisles and six sections of ridges form a partial octagon and the diameter of the outermost ridges measures three-quarters of a mile.

It is thought these ridges served as the foundations for dwellings.

For years, scientists have hypothesized that the plaza area of the site was used as a community gathering place because it has yielded very few artifacts. The area is near the park's visitor center.
However, about seven years ago, Greenlee said archeologists Michael Hargrave and Burly Clay began mapping the entire site with magnetic gradiometers, a form of ground-penetrating technology that provides scientists with an opportunity to look for magnetic variations in areas where ancient soils were disturbed.
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2009, 08:26:21 am »












"Those variations are underground, so they can develop a map that shows where there are perturbations in the magnetic field and they have identified several large circles in the plaza area, which is pretty unusual," Greenlee said. "We had no idea that they were there."


The use of the magnetic gradiometers to find possible clues beneath the surface allows excavations of the area to be pinpointed, reducing the amount of damage to the site.

Dirt that is taken from the four areas where the excavations are taking place is sifted for artifacts, dried and placed back in the holes.

"With limited testing in the plaza, we haven't found any features that have suggested activities," said park manager Dennis LaBatt. "By nature, you wonder what they were doing in the plaza, it's really exciting in that these features on a much larger scale appear to be great big circles,"

LaBatt theorizes that the inhabitants may have used the circles to, in a sense, direct traffic into the area from Bayou Macon. Scientists already know that a sloped area leading from the bayou to the site was a major access point.

Evan Peacock, associate professor of anthropology at Mississippi State University, said data gained from the excavation could take months to sift through. The excavation project has been planned for more than year.

"Poverty Point is easily one of the most important archeological sites in North America and one of the most important sites in the world because of its scale for hunters and gatherers," Peacock said. "Obviously, it's a privilege to be here.

"We're hitting pristine archeology from 3,000-plus years ago. We're breaking new ground, there's no question about that. Finding those features was a complete surprise."

Earlier in the week the excavations began to reveal what may have been the first signs of the circular structures just over a foot below the ground's surface.

And as a future archeologist, Sellers said participation in such an important excavation is thrilling, even though she spent the better part of four days crouched uncomfortably over a hole in a grassy field.
"I thought it was going to be pretty mundane, but it turned out to be something pretty cool," Sellers said. "You can't go finding mummies on your first dig."
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2009, 08:43:42 am »


               









                                            Poverty Point Indians Leave Their Mark



 




        If someone told you that there was a large bird shaped mound in Louisiana would you believe them? Well it is true!  Louisiana has the second to largest American mound in the United States. The historical landmark is called Poverty Point. The huge mound is near Epps, Louisiana. The beautiful site was built by the Poverty Point Indians very long ago. 

 

       When the Poverty Point Indian tribes lived in Louisiana they made their mark by creating this beautiful site.  The largest mound in Poverty Point is called Bird Effigy Mound. The Bird Effigy Mound is 3/4 mile across, 70 feet high, and looks like a bird when viewed. 

     

        To create this monument, the Indians loosened shells and stones and carried all of that to the mound by hand.  The artifacts in the ground can tell us a little about that time and that Indian tribe. Then they created eleven miles of ridges with a design. There were no cranes, forklifts or machines to help them carry all of the stones. The amazing part is that this was created by hand.

 

       The Poverty Point Tribal Indians no longer exist, but their tribe left a tremendous gift and a wonderful piece of art for Louisiana. Though their tribe is gone, they are remembered because they made their mark for everyone to see!



http://www.vrml.k12.la.us/la_indians/interactive/online/povpoint/poverty_point_online.asp
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2009, 12:17:42 pm »

Poverty Point is truly incredible. But the effigy mound has now been dated to 3400 BC by carbon testing, as has another mound called the "Lower Jackson" site located about a mile to the south. The enormous site is a must visit for anyone in the area. The oldest US mounds date to about 3500 BC, at least at present. It is likely that in coming years some submerged mounds along the coast will be dated somewhat older. The oldest known mound in the Americas is in the Amazon, on a tributary, dated to 8000 BC. Undated mounds are also at Tierra Del Fuego, as far south in SA that one can go.
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Bianca
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2009, 08:30:12 am »







Greg,

I am so glad you posted about Poverty Point!

As the author of the recently published


                      "The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Native American Mounds & Earthworks",


in my book (LOL!) you are the ultimate authority on this subject.

Let me say that I know NOTHING about this subject, but I have been wanting to pursue it since the
inception of Atlantis-On-Line. 

I am finally getting around to doing something about it but, frankly, I am really only on 'a voyage of discovery', so any and all help from you will be greatly appreciated!!!
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Bianca
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2009, 04:05:21 pm »



Public release date: 27-Nov-2002
[ Print Article | E-mail Article | Close Window ]

Contact: Andrea Lynn, Humanities & Social Sciences
a-lynn@uiuc.edu
217-333-2177










                                           University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



                            Non-invasive tools key to first mapping of early Louisiana culture






Archaeology
CHAMPAIGN, Ill.

-- Archaeologists have hit pay dirt at Poverty Point, La.

Using a variety of advanced non-intrusive instruments, an Army Corps of Engineers team has for the first time geophysically found and mapped "subsurface architecture and cultural features" that were constructed by the area's early residents, the Poverty Point Culture (about 1730 to 1350 B.C.).

Tad Britt, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said his team produced "very accurate maps" of man-made ridges and trenches just below the surface of the ground. They surveyed ridges 1-5 of the southwest sector of Macon Ridge, above the Mississippi River floodplain.

The maps document the precise arrangement of and spacing between the concentric semicircular ridges and trenches. Ridges range from 65 to 115 feet apart, with the outermost being three-quarters of a mile in diameter -- all "indicative of a carefully designed and well-executed plan," Britt said.

The earthworks may have been used as a marketplace, and three circular anomalies found on the ridges may be post holes for roundhouses, built at different times. "The site was occupied for almost 1,500 years and was continually being modified. What remains is a palimpsest of human occupations."

One of the goals of the project, in addition to collecting data about the hidden features, was to determine which non-invasive instruments worked best at detecting subsurface anomalies "indicative of cultural features," Britt said. Magnetic field gradiometry and electrical resistivity proved most successful. In addition to Britt, the principal investigator, team members were Michael Hargrave and Janet Simms; all three work for the Corps' Engineer Research and Development Center.

Previous non-invasive surveys by other archaeologists were inconclusive. Similarly, traditional excavations at the site over the past 100 years have failed to provide "a clear understanding of the nature, distribution and density of archaeological features such as pits, hearths, post holes and other structural remains," Britt said.

Despite the latest discoveries, the huge, 400-acre site remains "unique and enigmatic" -- much of the current understanding regarding its evolution and its inhabitants' subsistence, lifeways and social order "still speculative and largely based on data recovered from surface finds and limited test excavation."

Nevertheless, Poverty Point is a critical archaeological site in the United States and a textbook case for the evolution of a non-agricultural, socially complex culture.

Elsewhere during the same time period, American Indians lived "a much simpler lifestyle as hunter-gatherers," Britt said. "There are some exceptions, all in Louisiana, that predate Poverty Point by a couple thousand years. But they do not possess the level or scale of the Poverty Point site."

Recent archaeological studies in the area indicate that the earliest mounds in the Americas also are in northeast Louisiana. Those mounds are earlier than the Olmec mounds in Mexico, he said, and even the Egyptian pyramids at Giza.


###
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2009, 04:12:41 pm »











Poverty Point National Monument
 




IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)
 




Location West Carroll Parish,
Louisiana, USA

Nearest city
Epps, Louisiana

Nearest city:
Epps, Louisiana

Coordinates
32°38′12″N 91°24′41″W / 32.63667°N 91.41139°W / 32.63667; -91.41139

Established
October 31, 1988

Governing body
State of Louisiana
National Park Service
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2009, 04:19:48 pm »




               










                                                              P O V E R T Y   P O I N T






Poverty Point (French: Pointe de Pauvreté) is a prehistoric archeological site dating between
1650 – 700 BC in northeastern Louisiana, 15.5 miles (24.9 km) from the current Mississippi River
on the edge of Maçon Ridge by the village of Epps in West Carroll Parish.

The name Poverty Point also refers to inhabitants of similar sites nearby and to the Poverty Point culture. The name is derived from a plantation on which the site was discovered in 1873.

At the time, it was believed that the site was a natural formation. In the 1950s, however, aerial photographs revealed the complexity and complete pattern of the man-made earthwork.

The State of Louisiana protects the site as Poverty Point State Historic Site, which includes a
museum and nature trails.
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2009, 04:27:05 pm »



An aerial view reveals the circular pattern of ancient Indian
earthworks at Poverty Point.









The core of the site measures approximately 500 acres (2.0 km2), while recent archaeological investigations have shown that the total occupation area extends for more than 3 miles along the river terrace.  In the center of the site are a set of six concentric curved earthen ridges separated by flat corridors of earth. Dividing the ridges into three sections are two ramps that slope inwardly leading to Bayou Maçon. Each ridge is currently about three feet high, although it is believed that they were once five feet high.  The approximated diameter of the outside ridge is three-quarters of a mile, while the innermost ridge’s diameter is about three-eights of a mile.

The central portion of the site consists of the concentric ridges and five earthen mounds. One (Mound A) is roughly T-shaped when viewed from above. A second mound is conical-shaped, and the remaining three are platform mounds which whould have supported wooden buildings. There is an additional mound located north of the main concentration of mounds, called the Motley Mound, while a mound located south of the site center is called Lower Jackson Mound. This brings the total possible mounds identified at the site to seven.

Mound A is located at the western edge of the site core, and is the largest mound at the site. The western half of this mound consists of an elongated cone measuring 69 ft (21 m) high. A 32 ft (9.8 m) platform is attached to the eastern edge of the cone. These portions of the mound are joined by a ramp-like feature.  Mound A has been described as a flying bird effigy, and also as an "earth island" representing the cosmological center of the site.

At the southern edge of the site, the Motley Mound rises 51 ft (16 m). The conical mound is circular and reaches a height of 24.5 ft (7.5 m). The three platform mounds are much smaller than the other mounds. Lower Jackson mound is believed to be the oldest of all the earthworks at the site.
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2009, 04:36:12 pm »










Recent excavations and testing at the Poverty Point site by archaeologists from Washington University in St. Louis, Murray State University, and Tulane University have shown that the site inhabitants undertook a massive program of earthmoving and reshaping the natural landscape. This effort included leveling natural ridges, filling undulating gullies, and the construction of the mounds and ridges that now form the most visible aspect of the site.  The total volume of earth moved for the Poverty Point earthworks consists of between 750,000 and 1,000,000 cubic meters.

Although it was previously thought that construction of the earthen mounds at Poverty Point occurred gradually over hundreds of years, recent research has shown that Mound A was in fact constructed quickly, probably over a period of less than three months.  Prior to construction, the vegetation covering the site was burned. According to radiocarbon analysis, this burning occurred between approximately 1450 and 1250 BC. The area was then immediately covered with a cap of silt, followed immediately by the main construction effort. There are no signs of construction phases or weathering of the mound fill even at microscopic levels, indicating construction occurred in a single massive effort over a very short period.  In total volume, Mound A is made up of approximately 238,000 cubic meters of fill, making it the second largest earthen mound (by volume) in eastern North America.

In 2009, the University of Louisiana at Monroe and Mississippi State University at Starkville began digging on the plaza in the center of the rings to search for the cause of small variations in the magnetic field, that were found since 2000 by Magnetic gradiometry surveys. The data indicate the presence of earthen circles 80-to-160 feet wide beneath the surface of the ground.
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2009, 04:37:41 pm »



Clay cooking balls found at the Poverty Point site









Some in the archeological community believe that the site at Poverty Point was mostly used as a ceremonial center where people congregated at various times of the year,  not as a city. Reasons that could have drawn individuals together during certain times of the year could be social or supernatural forces.  Marriages, trade, kin ties and alliances were also all important reasons for gathering.

 
Clay cooking balls found at the Poverty Point siteThe act of building and the presence of the mounds themselves created an enhanced “sense of community”.  There is evidence of “hearths, postmolds, and other features” found along the ridges, indicating the presence of people. Also found have been incredibly large volumes of clay balls used for the indirect heating of food, called "Poverty Point Objects,". Their presence would indicate a high volume of on-site food production, thereby indicating a year-round population. Artifacts that have been recovered in archeological excavations from Poverty Point typically are imported items. There appears to be a disproportional amount of this imported material at the site, consisting of projectile points and microliths, that has been determined to have originated in the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains and in the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys.

There is also evidence of soapstone from the Appalachians of Alabama and Georgia.  There are also copper and galena artifacts that indicate trade with the prehistoric copper producing region of the Great Lakes.  Foreign artifacts in such large amounts could indicate that they were gifts used for ritual and social purposes by the gathering people. These gifts were left behind periodically, and over the several generations of people using the site, slowly accumulated into the hundreds of intricate artifacts discovered during archeological excavations. Their presence also indicates that the people at Poverty Point were in contact with a wide range of other groups.
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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2009, 04:48:45 pm »











The site today
The current site is a public park run by the state of Louisiana.


Currently the site is a park run by the state of Louisiana. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The cost of the entrance is $2 a person; seniors over the age
of 62 and children 12 and under are free.

“Poverty Point is the largest and most complex Late Archaic earthwork occupation and ceremonial site yet found in North America”. This is part of the Statement of Significance during June 13, 1962 for the placement of the site in the National Historic Landmark Program.  On October 31, 1988 Poverty Point National Monument was created by Congress, who expected the donation of the land for the National Park Service. The land, however, never exchanged ownership from Louisiana to the national government; despite this fact, the site is counted amongst the 391 units of the National Park System. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

The site is occasionally monitored by the National Historic Landmark program, which is concerned about the erosion of the mounds. Louisiana is working with the Vicksburg Corps of Engineers to develop a plan for erosion control.  It was designated a National Historic Landmark on June 13, 1962.



RETRIEVED FROM

wikipedia.org
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« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2009, 11:51:04 am »










                         Poverty Point Earthworks: Evolutionary Milestones of the Americas






To view a video, click on your connection speed, 56k or 300k)
Location: Louisiana       Length: 22 min.        56k  300k      56k  300k

http://www.archaeologychannel.org/content/video/poverty.html



A discovery in northeastern Louisiana opened a new window on ancient America and eventually led scientists to uncover new evidence of a highly developed ancient American culture in the lower Mississippi delta between 1730 and 1350 B.C.

At the heart of the site is one of the largest native constructions in eastern North America, earthworks that are the oldest of their size in the Western Hemisphere.

This video tells the story of the ancient American hunter-gatherers who lived in a sophisticated community we
now call Poverty Point.
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2009, 06:54:28 pm »



Diana Greenlee examines an artifact unearthed at Poverty Point Historic Site this summer.
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2009, 06:59:10 pm »









                   Poverty Point excavation comes to conclusion under guidance of ULM leader




                      Poverty Point excavation concludes with guidance from ULM professor







University News Service
• August 9, 2009

  A major archaeological excavation at Poverty Point State Historic Site recently concluded, under the leadership and guidance of Diana Greenlee, station archaeologist and adjunct assistant professor in the department of geosciences at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.



Greenlee, collections manager Alisha Wright and ULM students were joined by colleagues from Mississippi State University for the summer excavation.

The dig represented the first excavations conducted by a ULM archaeological field school at Poverty Point in more than a decade and provided the public an interesting, first-hand look at working scientists seeking clues about the Native Americans who occupied the site close to 3,500 years ago.

The primary goal of the excavation was to study enigmatic buried circles identified using special instruments that detect slight variations in the soil's magnetic field.

The circles, which range from 20 to 60 meters in diameter, are located in the central plaza, previously believed to be empty community space for the prehistoric people who lived there. The archaeologists chose to excavate and compare parts of four different circles.

Greenlee said she realizes that visitors to Poverty Point State Historic Site may be a bit underwhelmed by the site, but emphasized how magnificent the cultural achievements of the prehistoric culture really were and how each exploration of the site is ripe with possibility.

"Just when you think you have some things figured out, you realize that you don't have a clue," she said. This site is just so complex."

Everybody involved considered the excavations a success, Greenlee said.

"We were able to establish that the different magnetic characteristics of the circles in the plaza correspond to different kinds of constructions," she said.

One of the circles has been dated and is the same age as the major occupation of the site.

"We now have sufficient samples to determine how old the rest of the circles are," Greenlee said.

Although the fieldwork is complete, analysis of the artifacts and sediments will continue for many months. Greenlee anticipates that future field efforts will expand upon this summer's work to understand the functions of the circles.

The archaeological site at Poverty Point is the largest, most complicated earthwork of its age in North America. People who relied on a hunting-gathering-fishing way of life moved more than 750,000 cubic meters of dirt in its construction, all without benefit of beasts of burden.



http://www.thenewsstar.com/article/20090809/LIFESTYLE/908090304
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