In a rural part of northeast Louisiana, approximately 25 miles from Lake
Providence (near the small town of Epps) stands the largest and most important
earthworks in the Western Hemisphere. The Poverty Point mounds were built in
1500 B.C., which pre-dates the Parthenon in Greece, the Great Wall of China, and
the Colosseum in Rome. The earthworks are situated on Bayou Macon
(pronounced 'mason'), which separates East and West Carroll Parishes.
The Native Americans used the Bayou
as a means of transportation. They were also able to ship in supplies and sell
their goods to other parts of the territory. The inhabitants of Poverty Point
used the natural resources that were plentiful in the Mississippi floodplain.
Their culture is considered a pre-agricultural society, but the amount of man
power and the thousands of hours of work that it took to construct the
earthworks suggests a highly evolved society, living and surviving together. The
earthworks were built by the Poverty Point people, digging and carrying
thousands of loads of dirt by hand in woven baskets.
Poverty Point's "central construction consists of six rows of concentric ridges,
which at one time were five feet high. The five aisles and six sections of
ridges form a partial octagon. (Two of the aisles correspond with the summer and
winter solstice sunsets.) The diameter of the outermost ridges measures
three-quarters of a mile. It is thought that these ridges served as foundations
for dwellings although little evidence of structures has been found. However,
features and midden deposits uncovered during excavations support this theory.
Earthen mounds were also built on the site. Immediately to the west of the
concentric ridges lies Poverty Point Mound, a spectacular bird shaped mound
measuring about 700 by 640 feet at its base and rising 70 feet. To the north is
Mound "B," a 20 feet high conical mound, which was constructed over a bed of ash
and burnt bone fragments." --Quoted directly from the Poverty Point State
Historic Site brochure from the Office of State Parks
During excavations, hundreds of personal articles were recovered. Bird effigies,
stone tools, spears, and gems that are not native to Louisiana have been found,
along with hundreds of round, clay balls. Historians believe that these clay
balls were used for cooking. The balls were heated in a fire and then placed in
a pit, which created an oven for cooking meat and other foods.
Today, Poverty Point is a popular tourist attraction and a site for
archeological study. It is located southwest of Lake Providence on LA 577 off of
LA 134. The site consists of a 2.6 mile walking trail or tram ride, which allows
visitors to make their way up the large earthen mounds. Artifacts are displayed
in an informative museum, which features an audio-visual history of the site and
an observation tower gives visitors a birds-eye view of the mounds. Picnic areas
and restrooms are also maintained. A nominal fee is charged for entrance into
Observation Tower at Poverty Point
Point State Historic Site
you teach them where they come from, they won't need as much help finding
where they are going!"
Cordelia Carothers " Aunt Dee" Geoghegan (1894-1987)
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