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Poverty Point Earthworks: Site Layout

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Indians in Louisiana: The Poverty Point Site
A Local Legacy

Why would anyone build mounds of earth 7 miles long?

In the case of Poverty Point, in northeastern Louisiana, no one knows for sure. In some states, like Ohio, Native American people built mounds as burial places. Archaeologists suspect that the mounds at Poverty Point served as sites for dwellings, but they are not certain. Native American culture in the Poverty Point area began almost 4,000 years ago, and the mounds were built between 1750 and 1350 B.C.

The mounds are six giant half-circles in the shape of a bull's-eye, almost three-fourths of a mile wide. If you straightened out the six mounds and laid them out end-to-end, they would stretch for 7 miles. Archaeologists believe the 37-acre central plaza formed by the mounds may have been used for religious and other public ceremonies.

Although archaeologists have not found any articles of clothing from these ancient people, they have found jewelry. The great variety of this jewelry, from simple to elaborate, indicates that social status was important in the Poverty Point community. Overall, Poverty Point presents evidence that ancient Americans lived in sophisticated communities. Even so, this does not help to solve the mystery of exactly what these mounds were. Do you have any other ideas?

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