Poverty Point

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There are only three archeological World Heritage Sites in the United States. Poverty Point, in Epps, Louisiana, in the Northeast corner of the state, is a remarkable and remote preservation of mound civilization from 1650 to 1100 B.C. To put this in historical context, the commerce, culture, and physical construction that is on display occurred roughly at the time of Stonehenge. The scale, geometry, organization, and logistics of these mounds are stunning in their sophistication. Approximately 2 million cubic yards of earth were moved by hand to create this massive landscape and monument.

Archeologists have few answers for the great mysteries of Poverty Point. How and why a hunter-gatherer civilization built such a massive complex is a fundamental mystery. Millions of artifacts and objects have been unearthed at this site. Despite the massive excavation, we do not know the answers to very basic questions: How many people lived there during its peak? What ultimately caused its disappearance?

Especially impressive is the trade network that emanated from this Mound civilization. Materials for art, weapons, hunting, and ceremonies can be traced to a network over 800 miles, a remarkable distance to travel and create exchange for the time.

The name of this UNESCO Heritage site has nothing to do with its deep history: Poverty Point was the name of a Southern plantation that unfortunately farmed over many of the massive mounds.

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