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K. Kris Hirst

Poverty Point Site Architecture

By February 4, 2013

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Poverty Point is an amazing place. Within the boundaries of a National and State Park in northeastern Louisiana is an elaborate earthwork constructed some 3500 years ago: elaborate and symmetrical, or at least so it has seemed.

Poverty Point Map and 1938 Aerial
Is this map just a little too symmetrical? (l) Map of Poverty Point by Maximilian Dörrbecker (r) 1938 aerial photograph, US Army Corps of Engineers

Some recent archaeological investigations at the site have been targeted at determining if the symmetry was planned or evolved. Did early archaeologists see more symmetry than is there? The answer to that question drives the interpretation of the site, whether Poverty Point should be seen as a planned community, or simply the end palimpsest of centuries of elaboration by Archaic hunter-gatherers.


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