Massive Native American mounds at Poverty Point, Louisiana built quickly

Credit: Creative Commons
Credit: Creative Commons

The Columbus Dispatch publishes the latest findings from excavations of the “ancient earthworks” at Poverty Point, Louisiana that these massive earthen mounds were built quickly.

Excavations of Poverty Points “Mound A” have detected no erosion in the stacked mud buildings remaining from pre-history Americas.  The Dispatch article by Bradley T. Lepper, curator of archeology at the Ohio Historical Society continues:

"Kidder analyzes the varied colors and layers of the soils of Mound A, which are a result of the building process. Indians carried basket-loads of dirt weighing roughly 55 pounds and piled them up carefully to form the mound. " Souce: Phys.org
“Kidder analyzes the varied colors and layers of the soils of Mound A, which are a result of the building process. Indians carried basket-loads of dirt weighing roughly 55 pounds and piled them up carefully to form the mound. “
Souce: Phys.org

“Mound A is a massive conical mound about 72 feet tall with a broad, roughly rectangular platform extending off its eastern side. Anthony Ortmann of Murray State University in Kentucky and Tristram Kidder of Washington University in St. Louis excavated a 32-foot-deep trench into Mound A. They reported their results this month in the journal Geoarchaeology.”

Ortmann and Kidder estimate Mound A to have been built in about 90 days.  But, how could this be so?

This, of course, implies that a large number of hunter-gatherers were somehow mobilized to undertake this massive public works project. Ortmann and Kidder conclude that “whatever the structure of Poverty Point society, it is unlike anything documented in the historic or contemporary hunter-gatherer ethnographic record.”

The article author notes that the Poverty Point mounds are 1,000 years older than Ohio’s Hopewell mounds.  Lepper concludes with this:

“Poverty Point was unprecedented for its time. The Hopewellian achievement was equally unprecedented for its time.”

Phys.org has a report published here about the Poverty Point excavations.

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