Poverty Quack

Poverty Point Park, Louisiana

With JJ Kwashnak and Russ Minton

October 2010


IN the northeast country of Louisiana, next to the Bayou Macon are a series of earthen mounds of varying heights and sizes. To look at them, rising above the flat delta region of the Louisiana countryside, one would be surprised to know that these mounds, built between 3600 and 2700 years ago - one of the oldest construction projects on the American Continent.

Poverty Point Visitor Center

Lacking a supply of stone building materials, the inhabitants set about creating structures using molded earth. The site features a series of six rows of concentric circles, each originally around 6 feet high and believed to be topped by dwellings.

Poverty Point Model

Not surveys the site atop a model of the area.

At the central focal point of these circles stands the Poverty Point Mound - a bird shaped mound 700 foot by 640 foot at the base and rising 70 feet above the countryside. Built by hand, it is believed that the structure was created by people hauling in baskets of earth weighing up to 50 pounds each. Some archeologists estimate that this structure could have been created in as few as 90 days of construction.

Poverty Point Mound Model

Artifacts found at the site show that the inhabitants traded with other peoples across the area: from up in the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains;  along the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys and the Appalachian foothills of Alabama and Georgia. Created in the same period that saw the rise of the Mayan civilization, the mounds pre-date the development of the great Mayan constructions, starting over a dozen centuries before the birth of Christ.

Without realizing the significance of the site, parts of the site mounds were plowed under in agriculture efforts, and roads built through the site. The site is named for Poverty Point - a local plantation that included part of the site.

Poverty Point Marker

The site is the most organized of the Ancient Mounds of Louisiana. The state has a created a trail tthat encompasses dozens of these earthen mound structures in northern Louisiana. Recently, the site was nominated to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Next time NOT feels old, a trip here makes him realize how young he really is.




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Photos courtesy of J.J. Kwashnak

Last Updated December 2010