Archeologists discover more about Poverty Point World Heritage Site

Ground-penetrating radar shows new ridges, an armadillo burrow, and a foundation from a house.
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 10:15 PM CST
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PIONEER, La. (KNOE) - We’re learning more about the Poverty Point World Heritage Site and its ancient monumental earthworks in West Carroll Parish.

Using money from a 2019 federal government grant, the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) and Minnesota State University Moorhead used a ground-penetrating radar from a Norwegian University to get a glimpse into the past.

“We could see tree roots and armadillo burrows and those we could recognize for what they were and foundations of an old house,” said Dr. Diana Greenlee, Station Archaeologist at Poverty Point.

Poverty Point is one of only four archaeological World Heritage Sites in the United States and one of only 24 of any type nationwide. It’s one filled with mystery. According to its World Heritage Site website, the mystery dates back more than 3,400 years. Native Americans shaped nearly 2 million cubic yards of soil “hand by hand and basketful by basketful.” It’s believed there was a “concerted effort to build a massive residential and ceremonial center that had no rival in terms of scale and size.” This was a time when most people lived in small groups.

“We have learned more about this area known as the plaza,” explained Dr. Greenlee. “It’s sort of the central area within the c-shaped earthen ridges.”

Greenlee says most surprisingly, they found even more human ingenuity underground.

“There is, for example, a ridge that was created by removing the soil on either side of it that stretched across part of the plaza,” Greenlee told KNOE.

Despite the findings, Greenlee says there are still many questions to be answered.

“Always kind of hard to say why because then you are trying to get back in the mindset of the people who did that,” Dr. Greenlee explained.

Archaeologists found several more features underground but will need to excavate items to learn more about them.

You can read more about this ancient piece of history in Louisiana by visiting their website.

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