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Poverty Point

2014-11-17 | 🔗

Poverty Point is a collection of earthwork mounds and ridges situated next to Bayou Maçon in Louisiana. It has features that make it unique among Native American sites, and there are still many questions surrounding its purpose and construction.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Every you podcast Mercantile stealthy missed in history has works. Tat can well treated me. Well, I'm home right now mentioned in our recent episode on Maria now that I have been looking for some native american history to deepen the pike ass, it had been a while, since we talk about any native history and in that looking around process. I stumbled across an article on the hope here, which is the Mississippi and city that was in the words of UNESCO, the largest and earliest pre colombian City North of Mexico. Naturally, I got really excited by found almost instantly to problems who have family got episode onto hokey a wine if the fair Billina did one already in twenty eleven,
the other is that there is some debate about whether we should really Coca Hokey America's first city, and one of the reasons for that debate is the subject of today's episode, which is poverty, point answer to get us out of the way right, the beginning, poverty point: his name for a nineteenth century plantation in the area. The name has nothing to do at all with the native people who live there or their culture or the site itself. It's sort of wound up with name over the years, and occasionally they talk about changing the name, something that's more. Her broke rear for what is actually being studied there, but that's where we are so. Poverty point has a few things in common with two hokey they're, both situated in the Mississippi River Valley, to hope here as a lot farther north and also much closer, the river soak a hokey isn't what's now Illinois across the Mississippi River from Saint Louis Missouri and poverty point is in the northeast
corner of Louisiana adjacent to buy you Mason, and both of them are known for their earthward There are large mounds that were created by moving baskets of soil from one place to another, but poverty point is much much older than hope here and it's also less clear exactly how people used this.
Poverty point, but some things about it are really unique among native american site. So that is what we are going to talk about today. So poverty points as Tracy just mentioned, is a collection of earth work, mounds and riches situated next to buy. You may sound. These were built between thirty three thousand six hundred and three thousand one hundred years ago, during North America, archaic period and some of the sites earthworks were built over generations, whereas others were built by a large group of labourers over a short period of time. They also incorporate some of the mound structures and measurement techniques of older civilizations, that actually lived in the area before the arrival of the poverty point culture, its estimated that it took about five million hours of labor to build all of poverty points earthworks. This required people to move
Fifty three million cubic feet of soil, which would have been carried from one place to another and baskets that would have weighed about fifty pounds apiece windfall the site has six ridges, which are divided by five roads in the six sections, as well as six mounds. The ridges form a pattern of concentric seas, which are only visible from the air there taller than a groan, adult and their peaks or between fifty and ninety pieces apart. The longest of the ridges is three quarters of a mile long Marriages are troughs where at least some of the dirt came from that built them. These ridges curve away from a bend in the by you and they end at the bluff that drops down to the by you. It's a pretty steep drop. The aisles that divide the ridges intersection
were made, either by digging trenches through some of the spots or by leaving gaps during their construction and others, and these these sort of paths led out from a central Plaza like spokes from a hub. The central plaza is circular and its flat and its marked with a lot of post holes of varying sizes. Although nobody has really worked out, if there's a pattern to them or not, it was probably uses a gathering place. As well as for ceremonial purposes, in addition to the regions and the plaza, there are six mounds at the sight and it's not completely clear what they were all used for bad like many of the other mounds in North America, they were not used for burials. They found the artifact left behind. Some of them probably did have more religious or us our spiritual ceremonial purposes, though the areas first occupants at least
period that we're going to discuss probably lived at Mount be. This is a man that was created used for a while And then covered over with a new top, and this happened repeatedly. A final cap of earth was placed over the mound about three thousand four hundred years ago, after which point the mound appears not to have been used any more poverty points. Ridges were started at about the same time as Mount be, was camped off, The largest of the mounds known as mound AY, was built last and it was built in what was at the time, basically a swamp, but about three thousand three hundred years ago, people started burning off all the vegetation and burying what was left under a layer of salt and that the mound is built on top of that silt layer and mounting a is twenty two metres high at its highest point. So that's about seventy two feet or roughly seven stories,
at its long is it's about two hundred and ten metres long or six hundred and eighty nine feet mount a shape roughly like a tea and some archaeologists believe it was meant to be representative of a bird. It would have taken more than ten million baskets of earth to make that mound, and you have to be more than one thousand feet in the air to actually see it all All of these numbers found this huge and they really are mounting alone contains almost two hundred and forty thousand cubic metres of earth and the only earthworks in the Eastern United States that that's larger, a is monks, mountain Capocchio, which you can hear about. Inferrin Dublin result episode. MT. It is more than twice as big as the next biggest mound that was built at about the same time and its fifty two
I beg your than the average earthworks from the period. What makes this even more stunning is that, based on the path of bottom layers of earth and Mount day settled it likely that it was built really quickly, especially compared to the others which took generations based on an estimate of ninety days to build it. The labour force needed to build Mount a was more than one thousand people. Logically, the labourers would have had children and people on a site who were doing other work besides the building, so the overall, patiently for that estimated ninety days was may be roughly four thousand. There is no sign of homes on Mount, a people didn't live on it and its generally thought to have been more ceremonial. It's definitely possible that the entire complex had religious or magical significance, given the way different parts of it line up with one another and the repetitions of the number six and a lot of the various artifacts
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The first mention of the place in writing as from eighteen thirties- and this is when a satellite had heard that there was led in the area and he went looking for a lead mine. He was thinking he was going to open up the mine mine, a bunch, a lad. That was how he was gonna make his fortune. What he actually found was in his words and indian village, There were artifacts, scattered all the ground had this led was really Galina. does the type of lead or, and that had been shaped into adornments. So there was no mind there. He was extremely disappointed when the first real archaeological study of poverty point started in nineteen. Twelve people found
abundance of artifacts. The overwhelming majority of them were on the ground with many more just under the surface. Local people had also been finding in collecting these artifacts, some of which have now been turned over for study. The most common object found at poverty point has been named, the poverty point object, and these are baked earthen, whereby that were used is cooking stones and there's all kinds of variety and exactly how poverty point objects are shaped and in what kind of designs were etched onto them before they were baked and hardened, but they fall into three main categories which our balls ropes and bike homes so to use them people. Would he these objects and a fire, and then they would transfer them into earthen ovens for cooking different shapes and sizes of the balls? Definitely hold he indifferent temperatures in four different lengths of time.
so this is most likely used deliberately to control the time and temperature of cooking. Also in the realm of cooking, there is some pottery at poverty point, but over well, namely the vessels there are made from stone one cache of broken vessels. site contained almost three thousand pieces, which probably came from between two hundred and three hundred stone vessels so shifting away from the cooking inedibles arena. Next upward gonna talk about weapons and their parts. There are lots of projectile points and darts made from stone. Darts and spears were thrown using a tool called an analytical. There are also lots of stone waits to give the Atalanta more half, so the projectiles would go farther,
Also in the category of awaits poverty, point is full of plummets, and these are stones that were carved into drop like shapes, which were used as weights on fishing nets. There are also tools all over poverty point, so we're Dreamer axes adds drills and the like in a lot of these, are stone tools made for working with stone, both to make more tools and the sheep stone into more ceremonial and ornamental these objects include beads a lot of little part bellied, our figurines, which are my favorite there. There very charming here, super farming. There are human figure aims which are mostly kind of androgynous. There are also tubes that are made of a substance called less as well as ones made brimstone. It's not completely
here whether these were used as pipes were smoking things or whether they were used and ceremonies in some way, but there are a number of them from around the site. We have talked about stone so much already in this podcast and in addition to all these tools, weapons, vessels and ornaments there's also stone along the tops of the ridges more than seven. Metric tons of its, but here's the thing: there's literally no natural stone existing of poverty point to find stone locally people, already point would have had to travel at least fifty kilometers, and that would have been a two day trip, even if people had been travelling along the water. At that point, between half and three quarters of the stone at poverty point actually is local, its firm way more than fifty kilometers away. A big portion of it is from more than a thousand
kilometers away, and that might have you scratching your head, as this is the first you ve heard of it. It is one of those regulations that will give pause and we're gonna talk about how about all came to be after our own pause for a quick word from his belt It seems like it should be easy, but it's not just getting out of bed and getting your days started. Trying to accomplish everything you need to do in your day that to do list as a lot easier when you're getting news stories and music to lift your mood and preparing for the day ahead, get connected to the things that make you laugh and make you think or make you want to reach out and share with a friend every morning with us, it's Elvis Joanne. In the morning show listen to us on cue, one or two or anywhere in the world, only Iheart Radio app how badly
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all these axes and adornments and add a little weights in all of our stuff. They were made from stone and other materials that was not a native to the poverty point sight, all these various types of stone and flat and or that were used to craft things, Every point came from all over the Mississippi River Valley, all the way up to great lakes. When somebody forces for stone in or were from much farther east and west, the cash a vessel fragments we mentioned earlier, came mostly from the Appalachian mountains. They also that soap stone from what's now Georgia court site from what's now Alabama. At the same time, the goods that were made at poverty point made their way out into the rest of the Mississippi River Valley in the South EAST as well. Poverty point objects are found an archaeological sites all over this region. There are also six different styles of weapon points and knives found it. Poverty point
these are also distributed around the surrounding area at various archaeological sites. But, unlike poverty point, these sites tend to have just one or two styles, not the the vast array. All of this collected together points idea that poverty point was a gathering place for lots of people and a vibrant, really active trading ground people stone and lots of it from very far away and then returned to where they came from without with items from poverty point it's entirely possible that food was also part of poverty points trade, but that's a little bit more difficult. The document. They definitely had an abundance of fish dear and nuts, to hunt and gather, and we do know that these foods were staples in the diet at poverty point itself, since a lot harder to track whether somebody got some fish and take it back with them and then ate it.
yeah, not not as easy to maintain those historical record. So here's where things really move into the we're, not sure territory at poverty point. We know lots of people came to the site to trade, but there's a clear documentation and in the archaeological record of massive amounts of trading from very far, but were really not sure how many people, if any lived there permanently. For example, archaeologists suspected people lived along the ridges
but no archaeological evidence has turned up yet for homes. There it's entirely possible that homes were made from materials that decayed over time and the sight was repeatedly ploughed and used for farming for at least a century, so that could have easily destroyed some evidence. Even so, the present the presence of zero evidence of houses is a bit of a head scratch you're. The idea that people live along the ridges comes for the presence of maidens. Basically trash deposits along slopes of the ridges, along with the type and number of artifacts that are found along the ridges themselves. There is also no evidence of any burials at poverty point, which is something you would expect of. People were living their full time. The only exe option is the mound be was built over the remains of a fire, and at least one body had been burned and that fire, but it's not entirely clear through that person was or when it happened, or how that
related to other events that poverty point. Basically, there is too much trash on the site for it to have just been seasonal trading ground that would have been left vacant for long stretches of the year, and the lack of burial sites makes it unlikely that it was a year round home for as many people as the size of the site would be able to support. So it remains a bit of a mystery these two. Kind of leave. A lot of question seems like maybe there are some people who were there all the time, and many many others who came to trade but there's a lot of theory and not a lot of clear evidence or which might be the right one. They fell through a bit of a mystery exactly how these people were there's not a specific no native american tribe. That's been tied to the construction of the mounds of poverty. Point word to all of the things that went on there
bad archaeologists have come up with a set of hallmarks that they used to define. What's called poverty point culture, and this includes poverty, point objects, projectile points and knives. the raw materials being used for I'm really far away creating of beads and plant It's an overall hunter gatherer type of existence, especially relying on fish dear and nuts, and so this culture stretched roughly Memphis to the Gulf of Mexico along the Mississippi River Valley. However, some of these hallmarks, such as the poverty point,
objects, travel well and they last a very long time. So it's important not to just suppose that every hunter gatherer society, the hunted with projectiles and used poverty point objects was necessarily part of poverty. Point culture on the last kind of mine, blowing thing that you like. There are many mine blowing thing there at least things that blew my mind in this absurd, He also used to think that, because of the huge complexity and engineering scale of the mounds and ridges, and because of all that non local sourcing of the stone that they needed, but the poverty point, people must have been an agricultural society sort of the society would have had to develop to the point of being able to in agriculture, before being able to do all of these other things, but more recent research really, and does that idea? We just don't have the art
logical evidence of agriculture going on at the site and the amount of labour and time that it would have taken to resolve these mounds couldn't really have happened. If this you know the same or more amount of labor was also required to raise crops and take care of domestic animals were so basically based on the evidence we have and contrary to what people supposed about what Hunter gatherer societies were capable of doing that. People are poverty, point or hunter gatherers who built these massively large and complex engineering feats, which are actually be unique in the native american world. There's no other ridge structure like the one at that
Point that's been found anywhere else. They also appear to have better, really egalitarian culture, so they shared their labour in your resources, even though the site where they lived was the biggest in the region, they don't seem to have been wealthier than the surrounding communities. There doesn't even appear to have been any kind of wealth disparity among the people who lived in or visited poverty point. There have to have been some kind of. leadership, or at least management, because that would have been necessary to plan and manage all of the building of these rivers and mounds, especially the ones that went that construction went on for years and years, but we have no textiles surviving from
I am definitely no written record, so all of that goes back into the realm of theory and conclusions drawn from the archaeological evidence that we have. In addition to all these other question marks about some of the specifics of the peoples of a life of poverty point, we also don't know why people eventually left poverty point. One possible explanation is that when poverty point was in use, there may have been a lake adjacent to the site which was used for fishing. We do that fish are definitely abundant in those parts of the waterways and that they were dietary staple since the had dried up. There would not have been enough to feed anybody any more and that could have caused them to exit the state of Louisiana about four hundred acres of the site in nineteen. Seventy two I'm sure when we put this honour Facebook page, someone will put the alien sky from their history channels on their yes,
the deck as there is just a whole lot of this was a massively impressive archaeological feet and we are not sure exactly who built it or why alien. Yet I had but don't actually goes aliens. I always think it's really cool when we just have an idea in their minds about how society function, and then they find thing that undoes that whole idea, like you know, societies must have progressed to being able to farm things agriculturally before they are sophisticated enough these other things o actually now that seems not to be the gave us. This brings back such fun memories of when I was a kid in school and I grew up part of the time in North West Florida and we visited an indian mound One of our field, the ass we had, but it was nothing computer we had. We had
mt where we visited near where I grew up. That was called town Creek, indian mound, and that is still what it is called today. Could I looked it up, and that is the place that some of the mounds or Eustace Burial sites and then near issue to Atlanta is ETA mounds, which I think also some of them were used as various so having had? These are normally enormous mounds that we're not burial sites is another thing. I was sort of foreign to me in this whole idea along with the idea of living somewhere, where there's no stone everywhere. I have ever lived his very rocky. I was like what do you mean? There is no stone in the stone age societies home it s, sort of cause you to have to shift you're thinking about how that could exist and be a thing
because I like you like what wet, why no stone at all are you sure to vat, and I've been wondering if it was hyperbole. But you know, all of the arrests are active. All archeologists were saying nowhere that there was no stone, they would have had to go fifty kilometers to get stone, really. Ok, So I also some listener meal. We got several listener. Male flash tweed flesh Facebook messages after hours. Freeze on China under Chairman MAO people asking people in China now think about these events or more personal stories about what people experience to relieving into at the time and we have got another list or mail but answers some of those questions. So I'm going to read from one of them today and from cocoa and covers most of my knowledge of the cultural revolution comes from my parents,
were born in the fifties? I grew up in China during the nineties and while the cultural she was in the textbooks all the blame were placed on the gang of for my dad's father was imprisoned during that time. I dont know the details because of still a very sensitive topic with my dad. He was horribly bullied as a child because his, from one of them today answers from cocoa and covers, as most of my knowledge of the cultural revolution comes from my parents who were born in the fifties. I grew up in China during the nineties and while the Cultural Revolution was illusionary. According to my grandmother, one of his students was also present at the same place. The student later died in prison of a possible suicide about the one hundred flowers, pain. There are a few chinese articles that mentioned my grandfather and according to one of them campaign was really a trap to lure dissenters and exposing themselves. Given how things turned out clients who believe in this conspiracy theory this one time,
Grandmother also told me stories of the famine. Still there were times when the food shortage was so bad that people resorted to eating tree bark, the university that my grandmother work, that had a lot of trees along its streets, and I think during one winter, when food was particularly scarce, people would strike one type of three in particular, because if barks tasted, the least bitter my mother's family had a slightly easier time during the cultural revolution they lived in the south where there more food. They also lived in a more rural area where they had a small plot of land where they planted food. They were all more well off to begin with and how the cultural revolution is viewed. There does seem to be an urban flash world divide, since people move Likely to write about history in China are the earth. Intellectuals. The general impression is overwhelmingly negative. However, I have tiniest friends,
parents from rural areas who tend to have much rosier views of the events when my parents, friends, was sent to the countryside as an educated youth and became an elementary school teacher. While he was there, he said that without a doubt, countryside movement, the children and the rural areas during that time would have had a much worse education simply because without the government mandate, educated young people would not be in the countryside, teaching first graters. I do have the cultural revolution to thank for MAC Systems, though my parents while they were in university. My dad's three years older than my mom and the reason they went to the university at the same time was that, because there is a cultural revolution, post secondary education was inaccessible for most people, they basically boasting their exams in the same year, even though he was older than she was not how they wound up and school together and one last thing I have a pet theory that the current brain drain that China is experiencing, where many highly hated or wealth. Italians are emigrating is, at least in part, a legacy of the cultural revolution
from my own, very formal and very unscientific survey of my chinese canadian friends. The majority of us come from families that are of the five black categories. I think many of us emigrated not just for the usual reason seeking a better life itself, but also because, even though we did have a good life in China, we dont trust, but at last, so thank you. Cocoa were sending us that personal story about how the cultural Revolution affected your family. We got several of those and I'm kind of spreading,
out. She read them. There are some others, but I hope to read one day, but that a lot of them are very tragic, and so I dont want to love them altogether. If you would like to write to us, we re history pie, gas at present works were also on Facebook and facebook dot com. Slash must be strengthened and splinter admitting history. Our tumblr is misplaced, readout, tumblr, dot, commoner on Pinterest headrest accomplishments. In history we have spread church store at Miss Industry, does red shirts, dot com or anything get up. but even in certain cases and thing, and if you would like to learn more about we ve talked about today, you can come to our website are appearing companies website, which is how upwards icon and put the word pottery in the search bar. Then you'll find some information about pottery, including their history. I read out
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