Poverty Point: A Culture of the Lower Mississippi Valley by Jon L. Gibson

STATE OF LOUISIANA

Edwin W. Edwards
Governor

DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE, RECREATION AND TOURISM

Noelle LeBlanc
Secretary

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND ANTIQUITIES COMMISSION

Ex-Officio Members

Dr. Kathleen Byrd State Archaeologist
Mr. Robert B. DeBlieux Assistant Secretary, Office of Cultural Development
Mr. B. Jim Porter Secretary, Department of Natural Resources
Mrs. Dorothy M. Taylor Secretary, Department of Urban and Community Affairs
Appointed Members

Mrs. Mary L. Christovich
Mr. Brian J. Duhe
Mr. Marc Dupuy, Jr.
Dr. Lorraine Heartfield
Dr. J. Richard Shenkel
Mrs. Lanier Simmons
Dr. Clarence H. Webb

First Printing April 1983
Second Printing, with corrections September 1985

The second printing of this document was funded by the Louisiana Research Foundation and the U. S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund. This document was published by Bourque Printing, Inc., P. O. Box 45070, Baton Rouge, LA 70895-4070.

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POVERTY POINT:
A Culture of the Lower Mississippi Valley
Jon L. Gibson

iv
To Carl Alexander,
with gratitude

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Editor’s Note
Louisiana’s cultural heritage dates back to approximately 10,000 B.C. when man first entered this region. Since that time, many other Indian groups have settled here. All of these groups, as well as the more recent whites and blacks, have left evidence of their presence in the archaeological record. The Anthropological Study series published by the Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, Office of Cultural Development provides a readable account of various activities of these cultural groups.

Jon L. Gibson, a professional archaeologist with a long-standing interest in the Poverty Point culture, is the author of “Poverty Point: A Culture of the Lower Mississippi Valley,” the seventh in the series. In this volume, Jon Gibson describes the Poverty Point culture—one of the most spectacular episodes in Louisiana’s past. Few people realize that the Poverty Point site, at 1000 B.C., was the commercial and governmental center of its day. In its time, the Poverty Point site had the largest, most elaborate earthworks anywhere in the western hemisphere. No other Louisiana earthen constructions approached the size of the Poverty Point site until the nineteenth century.

This volume tries to reconstruct from the archaeological remains the life of these bygone people. It discusses where these people lived, what they ate and how they made their tools. It also attempts to reconstruct their social organization and government.

We trust the reader will enjoy this introduction to the fascinating Poverty Point people.

Kathleen Byrd
State Archaeologist

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Much of what I know, think, and say about Poverty Point is due to Dr. Clarence Webb. Our close association and collaboration on Poverty Point matters go back to 1969 when we cooperated in a study of the large Carl Alexander collection. The mutual respect and friendship spawned by that association have grown over the years, even though our views on the Poverty Point site and culture have not always coincided. We were to have coauthored this booklet, but circumstances would not permit. I have forged ahead, under his prodding, and hope the results will be to his liking. His thoughtful critique of an earlier version of this report has improved the current one immeasurably.

Mitchell Hillman, Curator of the Poverty Point Commemorative Area, has been a constant source of information and new ideas. Walks over the magnificent Poverty Point site with Hillman are always new experiences. I have never come away from these get-togethers without being rededicated to delving into the many mysteries that the awe-inspiring site has to offer.

The excellent photographs in this book are the work of Brian Cockerham, Ranger at the Poverty Point Commemorative Area, and the drawings are my own.

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INTRODUCTION
Until a few years ago, Poverty Point culture was a major archaeological mystery. The mystery centered around the ruins of a large, prehistoric Indian settlement, the Poverty Point site in northeastern Louisiana. Poised on a bluff overlooking Mississippi River swamplands was a group of massive earthworks. It was not the earthworks themselves that were so mysterious, although they were unusual. Eastern North America was after all the acknowledged home of the “Mound Builders,” originally believed to be an extinct, superior race but now known to have been ancestors of various Indian tribes. No, the mystery lay in the age and the size of the earthworks.

Radiocarbon dates indicated that they were built at least a thousand years before the birth of Christ. This was a time when Phoenicians were plying warm Mediterranean waters spreading trade goods and the Ugaritian alphabet. This was a time when the Hittites were warlords of the Middle East. It was before the founding of Rome; even the ascendancy of the Etruscans was still centuries away. Rameses II sat on the throne of Egypt. Moses had just led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage in quest of the Promised Land. David and Solomon were kings of Israel.

In America where written history is lacking, Native Americans of 2000 to 1000 B.C. were thought to have been wandering hunters and gatherers living in small bands or at best simple tribes. Such unsophisticated groups were not considered capable of raising earthworks like those at the Poverty Point site. Archaeologists believed that such massive construction projects were possible only when large numbers of people started living together in permanent villages and when political control over villagers reached the point where labor could be organized and directed toward building and maintaining community projects, such as civic or religious centers or monuments. These conditions—large, permanent villages and effective political power—were normally found only among peoples whose economy was based on agriculture. In America that usually meant maize (corn).

Were we to believe that Poverty Point might have successfully integrated these factors—large populations, political strength, and maize agriculture—while everyone else in America north of Mexico was still adhering to a much simpler existence? If so, it meant that Poverty Point was one of 2the first communities, if not the first, to rise above its contemporaries and start the long journey to becoming a truly advanced society.

If Poverty Point did represent the awakening of complex society in the United States, how and why did it develop? Was its emergence caused by immigrants, bearing corn and a new religion, from somewhere in Mexico (Ford 1969:181)? Did it develop locally but under Mexican stimulation (Webb 1977:60-61)? Did it come about by itself without foreign influences (Gibson 1974)?

These were some of the major questions that surrounded Poverty Point. The lack of agreement on these issues created an aura of mystery and promoted the idea that Poverty Point was an enigma, or puzzle. When Poverty Point was not simply being ignored in discussions of Southeastern prehistory during the 1950s-1960s, it was usually portrayed as an unusual cultural complex that burst upon the Lower Mississippi Valley landscape, flourished for a while, and then disappeared leaving no trace among succeeding cultures.

Time has begun to change these perceptions. Poverty Point is no longer regarded as a geographic or developmental irregularity. New research during the last three decades has shown that the Poverty Point way of life was not confined to the big town at the main site, but extended over a large region and encompassed many peoples. Even with increased knowledge, Poverty Point still remains exceptional; yet it is no longer regarded as being out of step with Native American cultural evolution or as a historical flower that blossomed before its time. There are still many unresolved questions about Poverty Point culture. In the following pages, we will explore these questions and our current state of knowledge in order to present a reasonable picture of life in the Lower Mississippi Valley during Poverty Point times.

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POVERTY POINT CULTURE: A DEFINITION
Poverty Point culture was a widespread pattern of life followed by certain Indian peoples in the Lower Mississippi Valley between 2000 and 700 B.C. This general lifeway stretched roughly from a northerly point near the junction of the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers, (above the present-day town of Greenville, Mississippi) down the Mississippi Valley to the Gulf Coast (Figure 1). It covered parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, and its influences reached as far as Florida along the eastern coast and as far up valley as Tennessee and Missouri.

One should not get the idea that Poverty Point peoples from one end of this large region to the other were exactly alike. They did not comprise a single body of kinfolks or a nation. They almost certainly spoke different languages. It is likely that Poverty Point peoples were divided into a number of socially, politically, and ethnically separate groups.

What these people did have in common was participation, to varying degrees, in a far-reaching system of trade and manufacture or use of certain artifacts. Recognition of these artifacts is how archaeologists differentiate between Poverty Point sites and sites of different cultures. Some of these characteristic artifacts include clay cooking balls, clay figurines, small stone tools called microflints, plummets, and finely-crafted stone beads and pendants (Figure 2). Several things distinguish Poverty Point artifacts. One is the decided preference for materials imported from other regions. The other is the emphasis on ground and polished stone artifacts, especially ornaments and other status insignias.

Radiocarbon and thermoluminescence dates show that Poverty Point culture developed over a long period of time. By 3000 B.C., many of the typical artifacts were already in use. A few items had appeared even earlier. During the next thousand years, new artifacts and new styles were added, and by 2000-1800 B.C., an early stage of Poverty Point culture had evolved in some areas. However, the period between 1500 and 700 B.C. was the most climactic, because that was the span dominated by the giant Poverty Point site.

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Figure 1. How the Lower Mississippi Valley Might Have Looked in 1000 B.C. Shows Courses of Major Rivers and Locations of Poverty Point Territories.

AREAS OF SETTLEMENT
SITES
POVERTY POINT
Jaketown
Cowpen Slough
Claiborne
Ouachita River
Arkansas River
Joe’s Bayou
West Fork Mississippi River
East Fork Mississippi River
Vermilion River
Teche-Red River
Louisiana boundaries and modern Mississippi River shown as dotted lines
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Figure 2. Artifacts Characteristic of Poverty Point Culture. a-c, Plummets; d-f, Miniature Stone Carvings; g-j, Poverty Point Objects; k-l, Human Figurines; m-o, Projectile Points. Photographs courtesy of Brian Cockerham.

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SETTLEMENT
A map showing the Lower Mississippi Valley in 1000 B.C., during the zenith of Poverty Point culture, reveals some very interesting things. Population was concentrated in certain areas and these areas were separated from each other, sometimes by scores of miles (Figure 1). While this pattern of geographic isolation may be due in part to river erosion and spotty archaeological investigation, it almost surely reflects preferences for certain kinds of land. There were at least 10 population clusters in the area. The largest concentration was in the Yazoo Basin of western Mississippi. Another surrounded the Poverty Point site itself in the Upper Tensas Basin-Macon Ridge region of northeastern Louisiana.

Lying between these various population clusters were stretches of uninhabited or lightly occupied land. In possibly one or two cases, intervening areas may have supported populations almost as concentrated as Poverty Point territories but, for various reasons, these peoples did not participate regularly or intensively in Poverty Point culture.

Our map of 1000 B.C. shows another interesting feature. The scattered Poverty Point population clusters were all linked by waterways. Every one was tied to the Mississippi River. Even though the Mississippi River did not run through every concentration, its major tributaries and distributaries did. These interconnected streams must have been the highways that carried people, trade goods, and ideas.

Most of the population lived in permanent villages along these streams. There were small, medium, and large villages, ranging in size from less than an acre to over 100 acres. The smallest settlements probably housed only a few families, while residents at some of the larger ones must have numbered in the hundreds, possibly even more. One site among them was a veritable metropolis for the day; the population at the Poverty Point site itself has been estimated to number several thousands (Ford and Webb 1956; Gibson 1973). In addition to these stable villages, there were temporary campsites, where villagers evidently took advantage of seasonally available foods and other resources.

Larger villages were often distinguished from smaller ones by more than population numbers. One or more villages in nearly every Poverty Point territory were set apart by public construction works, usually mounds and sometimes embankments. Mounds were made of dirt and were usually 7dome-shaped affairs constructed in several stages. Two unique mounds at the Poverty Point site have been identified as bird effigies (Ford 1955). Typically one mound stood at these villages, but two to eight mounds were present in some instances (Webb 1977:11-13).

As a general rule, the number and size of these works varied directly with village size and population. Even though several of these mounds have been excavated, their purpose is still unclear. They superficially resemble mounds used as tombs by later cultures, but no burials have turned up in the Poverty Point structures. Beneath a mound of this type at the Poverty Point site was a bed of ashes and a burned human bone, suggesting that, at least in this example, it covered a cremation (Ford and Webb 1956:38). Embankments, or artificial ridges, were occasionally built at these bigger villages. In many cases, embankments seem to have been raised by a combination of construction and incidental accumulation of living refuse. Most of the giant ridges at Poverty Point seem to have grown this way (Ford and Webb 1956; Kuttruff 1975). However, not all of these ridges positively served as foundations for houses. Some served to connect mounds, others perhaps to mark alignments of some kind.

There was evidently no standard architectural arrangement involving mounds and ridges, but semicircular patterns occurred most often. The largest example is at the giant Poverty Point town (Figure 3). Linear plans were also used, and some sites show no recognizable designs. These various arrangements have been said to reflect everything from astronomical observatories to possible “fortresses.”

Of all the similarities and differences among territorial settlement patterns, several things stand out. Villages in each province ranged from small to large and from simple to complex, and every province had one village that stood apart from all the rest. This main village was probably the regional “capital.” Such an arrangement also seems applicable to the provinces themselves. They, like the villages within their bounds, can be ranked in importance according to the intensity of interaction with the major province. Lest there be any doubt, that supreme province lay along the Macon Ridge-Upper Tensas lowlands in extreme northeastern Louisiana. Its “capital” was the great town of Poverty Point. Because of its dominating influence, this magnificent town will be described in detail.

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Figure 3. Reconstruction of the Central District of the Poverty Point Site about 1000 B.C.

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It was first reported by Samuel Lockett in 1873 and was visited many times afterwards. However, it was during excavations, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History in the early 1950s, that its true nature came to be realized (Ford and Webb 1956). From aerial photographs came the startling realization—Poverty Point was a giant earthwork. It was so large that the bumps and ridges, apparent from a ground-level view, were once thought to be natural. The symmetrical geometry revealed on the photographs, however, led everyone to believe that it had been built from a “blueprint” in a single, all-out construction effort. Its great size, coupled with the millions of artifacts scattered over and in the artificial constructions, gave the impression that it was home for literally thousands and a magnet for multitudes of visitors. Even though new information has begun to change some of these ideas, it has not diminished the massiveness of the engineering feat or appreciation for the collective spirit of those long-ago builders whose vision and toil is represented there.

As one can see from the “city map” (Figure 3), the town was divided into several areas. The main area in the middle of town was dominated by a semicircular or partially octagonal enclosure. The enclosure was produced by six artificial, earthen embankments which formed concentric arcs. Extra ridges were outlined in the western sector, and the outer ridge terminated before reaching the south sector. The ridges were between 50 and 150 feet apart and about the same in width. They were 4 to 6 feet tall. Between them were low areas, or swales, apparently where much of the construction dirt had been removed. From one end of the outer arc to the other was 3950 feet, or nearly three-quarters of a mile. Opposite ends of the interior or smallest embankment were 1950 feet apart. All of the ridges terminated at the edge of a bluff, which dropped steeply some 20 feet below to a stream which paralleled the entire eastern side of the earthwork.

Formerly, archaeologists suspected that the ridges formed a complete circle or octagon and that the Arkansas River, which once flowed by the site, had eaten away the eastern side. Recent geological information and studies of activity patterns on the site, patterns that include both occupational and architectural tasks, now show that the enclosure was always semicircular. The bluff that marks the eastern edge of the site today and which seems to have cut into the earthwork was formed thousands of years before building ever started. In fact, the bluff edge has probably retreated very little since the time of earthwork construction.

The ridges were divided into five sectors by four aisles, or corridors. These openings range from 35 to 160 feet in width. They did not converge 10at a single point in the middle of the enclosure; neither did they divide the encircling embankments into equal-size areas.

The middle of the enclosure, or plaza, was relatively flat and covered an area of about 37 acres. At the eastern edge lay an oval mound (Bluff Mound). Whether it was built during Poverty Point times or during the Civil War, as claimed by some, is not certain.

Outside the central area were other earthworks (Figure 4). These included mounds and other embankments, as well as depressions. Physically connected to the outermost arc in the western sector was a huge mound (Mound A). The mound had an unusual shape which reminded some experts of a bird. It stood over 70 feet high and measured 640 feet along the “wing” and 710 feet from “head to tail.” The flattened, or so-called “tail,” section of the monster structure was actually built in a pit some 12 or more feet deep. Another similar but slightly smaller mound (Motley Mound) was built 1.5 miles north of the central embankments. Because it had only a lobe where the “bird’s tail” should have been, it was believed to be unfinished (Ford and Webb 1956:18).

Three more structures were positioned along a north-south line that passed through the central “bird” mound. About 0.4 mile north of the big mound was a conical construction (Mound B) covering a possible cremation. Some 600 feet south lay a square, earthen structure with a depression in the center. The function of this mound, like all the others, remains uncertain. There are even doubts about its man-made nature. A curving ridge connected this mound with the aisle separating the western and southwestern sectors. About 1.6 miles further south along the same axis was a second dome, the Lower Jackson Mound, the southernmost structure of the Poverty Point complex.

Some other earthworks—a comma-shaped ridge and at least one mound on the Jackson Place immediately south of the central enclosure—were probably once part of the overall complex. Unfortunately they have been destroyed.

Some of the dirt for the earthworks had been dug from borrow pits that lay outside the embankments. One large one stretched along the entire periphery of the southwestern sector (Figures 3 & 4). A balk, or “bridge,” crossed the center of this depression. An even larger pit ran north from the bird mound to Mound B. Smaller ones dotted the area around the “tail” of the bird mound and north of Mound B. These would have formed large ponds, and one cannot help but wonder if we might not be looking at an ancient, municipal water system or perhaps fish ponds, where catfish and other species might have been “farmed” or kept until needed.

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Figure 4. Plan of Earthworks at the Giant Poverty Point Town.

MOTLEY MOUND
Escarpment
Macon
MOUND B
MOUND A
BLUFF MOUND
EMBANKMENTS MOUND
Bayou
Floodplain
Macon Ridge
JACKSON COMPLEX
POVERTY POINT
LOWER JACKSON
Escarpment
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The majority of the population apparently lived on the embankments in the central area, but appreciable numbers of people lived outside. Important “suburbs” were scattered along the bluff between the central district and Motley Mound, to the west of Motley Mound, to the west and south of the bird mound, on the Jackson Place, and south to Lower Jackson. Other peripheral neighborhoods will no doubt eventually be discovered.

Nothing much is known about Poverty Point houses and furnishings. Probable house outlines were reported from Jaketown (Ford, Phillips, and Haag 1955: Figure 10) and Poverty Point (Webb 1977:13). Stains in the soil, called postmolds, showed these structures to have been circular and small, around 13 to 15 feet in diameter. One possible burned house at Poverty Point appears to have been a semi-subterranean structure, framed with bent poles and covered with cane thatch and daub (dried mud). Interior furnishings were not recognized.

Numerous postmolds have been found at many Poverty Point sites, but so far no other complete patterns have been identified. On the western side of the plaza at the Poverty Point site, an archaeologist excavated some unusually large pits. If these were postmolds, they held posts the size of grown trees! Too big for ordinary or even superordinary residences, these huge posts are said by some to have been markers for important days like equinoxes and solstices, an American Stonehenge.

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FOODS
When the real size and magnificence of Poverty Point came to be realized in the 1950s, it was believed that such developments were possible only when agriculture or a similarly efficient means of food production were known. In North America this agriculture was assumed to be based on corn, beans and squash because when Europeans arrived in the New World, these were the staple crops. But evidence for agriculture involving these foods has so far not been found in indisputable Poverty Point contexts. This lack was not altogether due to recovery or identification problems because plant remains have turned up at several sites, including Poverty Point itself.

Poverty Point culture might have developed without agriculture. One idea was that ordinary hunting, fishing, and collecting in special localities could have been the basis of Poverty Point livelihoods (Gibson 1973). In areas with generous expanses of elevated lands and swampy river bottoms, wild plant and animal foods were not only bountiful, they were present year-round. By precise timing of food-getting efforts with nature’s seasonal rhythms, Poverty Point peoples could have gotten all the food they needed and probably as much extra as they desired.

Another suggestion was that Poverty Point life might have involved farming all right, but of a different kind. Mounting evidence showed that a unique brand of horticulture had developed in eastern North America before Poverty Point culture ever began. The plants that were grown included sunflower, sumpweed, probably goosefoot, and possibly others. Other than sunflower, you would be right in thinking these are not widely cultivated species today, although they are common garden plants. They are notorious weeds and modern science has produced a variety of herbicides to get rid of them. However, they are easy to propagate. Native cultivation need not have involved anything more than scattering seeds over open ground. These plants produced enormous quantities of nutritional seeds. Thus, from the point of view of return for amount of work invested, this kind of gardening would have been economically efficient. Unlike other agriculture, this kind of farming—if it really can be called that—would have fit in quite well with hunting, fishing and plant collecting.

We are only starting to find out what kinds of wild foods were eaten, and of these, animals are better known than plants because their bones are more resistant to decay and are easier to find. From the Gulf to the northernmost 14inland territories, meat sources included fish, reptiles, small and large mammals, and birds (Smith 1974; Gagliano and Webb 1970; Byrd 1978; Jackson 1981). Shellfish were collected at coastal sites, where brackish-water clams were abundant. Oysters were not commonly eaten. Inland villagers do not seem to have eaten freshwater mussels at all. Freshwater fish seem to have been the most consistent animal food, occurring at practically every well-preserved site throughout the Lower Mississippi Valley. Gar, catfish, buffalo fish, sunfish, and other species were caught. Various kinds of turtles were also commonly taken. Alligators and even snakes were sometimes eaten. Deer were important sources of meat everywhere, probably ranking close to fish in terms of overall contribution to local diets. Cottontail and swamp rabbits, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, and other small mammals were hunted, as were turkeys, sandhill cranes, and other kinds of birds. There seems to have been considerable region-to-region and perhaps site-to-site differences in the importance of small mammals and birds.

Plant foods identified from Poverty Point refuse and cooking pits include hickory nuts, pecans, acorns, walnuts, persimmons, wild grapes, wild beans, hackberries, and seeds from honey locust, goosefoot, knotweed, and doveweed (?) (Shea 1978; Woodiel 1981; Jackson 1981; Byrd and Neuman 1978).

These remains are far from a complete list of Poverty Point table fare. Food residues have only been recovered at a handful of sites, far too few to make sweeping generalizations about Poverty Point subsistence. Differences in archaeological collecting methods and in preservation conditions from site to site inhibit detailed comparison. Present information will not allow us to say what foods were preferred or to work out their relative contributions to villagers’ diets.

Due to these problems, only general conclusions can be drawn. Even though the quest for food remains has only just begun in earnest, the failure of corn, beans and squash to turn up anywhere casts considerable doubt about the traditional view of Poverty Point peoples as farmers. As a matter of fact, of these three crops important in Southeastern Indian diets at A. D. 1600, only squash has been found anywhere in the eastern United States as early as Poverty Point times (Byrd and Neuman 1978). Since we do not know if the goosefoot and knotweed seeds found at Poverty Point sites were domesticated or wild varieties, we cannot be certain whether or not Poverty Point peoples had gardens of these native plants. All we really know, 15at present, is that Poverty Point communities throughout the Lower Mississippi Valley ate wild plants and animals. In the final analysis, we may anticipate that there was no single, uniform pattern of obtaining food in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Geographic and cultural differences were just too great.

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EVERYDAY TOOLS
Hunting and collecting were basic to Poverty Point economy everywhere, and rather specialized equipment was designed to aid in these food quests. The bow and arrow was unknown. The javelin was the main hunting device. These throwing spears were tipped with a variety of stone points. Some points, like the ones illustrated in Figure 5, were exclusive Poverty Point styles, but many were forms which had been made for hundreds, even thousands, of years before.

Figure 5. Javelin Points. a-b, Motley; c-d, f, Epps; e, Pontchartrain. Photographs courtesy of Brian Cockerham.

Casting distance and power were increased by the use of atlatls, or spear-throwers. Shaped like oversized crochet needles, atlatls were held in the throwing hand with the hooked end inserted into a shallow socket in the butt of the spear (Figure 6). Hurled with a smooth, gliding motion, the javelin was released toward the target while the atlatl remained in the hand.

Atlatl hooks were sometimes made of carved antler (Webb 1977, Figure 26), and polished stone weights supposedly were attached to the wooden handles. These atlatl weights came in a variety of sizes and shapes, including rectangular, diamond, oval, and boat-shaped bars and a host of unusual forms (Figure 7). Some were quite elaborate with lustrous finishes and engraved decorations. Repair holes reveal their value to owners.

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Figure 6. Throwing a Javelin with an Atlatl. Closeup Shows How Atlatl Hook Is Attached to End of Spear.

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Figure 7. Atlatl Weights. a-c, e, Gorgets; d, Triangular Tablet with Cross-Hatched Decoration; f-g, Narrow-Ended, Rectangular Tablets. Photographs courtesy of Brian Cockerham.

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The hunter also used plummets (Figure 8). These objects were ground from heavy lumps of magnetite, hematite, limonite, and occasionally other stones. Shaped like plumb bobs or big teardrops, they often had encircling grooves or drilled holes in the small end. Several explanations of their function have been suggested, but the idea that they were bola weights seems most likely.

Figure 8. Hematite Plummets. a-d, Perforated Variety; e-g, Grooved Variety. Photographs courtesy of Brian Cockerham.

Other kinds of hunting equipment, such as nets, snares, traps, etc., were probably used by Poverty Point hunters, but because they were made of materials that decay easily, their use can only be determined because the bones of nocturnal animals occur among food remains. The presence of fishbones, ranging from tiny minnows to giant gar, implies that fishermen used some sort of device or technique for mass catches. None of the fishing equipment, known from contemporary villages like Bayou Jasmine near Lake Pontchartrain (Duhe 1976), has been recognized at Poverty Point villages.

We know that men and women must have used other tools to obtain food, but we are unable to say which of the many other chipped and ground items were used in this way. Gathering plant foods such as nuts, acorns, seeds, fruits, berries, greens, and “vegetables” probably did not require 20implements, other than what may have been handy. Digging tubers would have required some sort of device, but it need not have been anything other than a convenient pointed stick. However, hoe-like tools have been found at several Poverty Point villages and in abundance at Terral Lewis, a small hamlet about 10 miles southeast of Poverty Point. Some of these objects have coatings which look like melted glass. The coatings are fused opal, produced when the “hoes” cut through sod. These artifacts might have been real hoes used to till gardens, but in view of the total absence of domesticated plant remains from Poverty Point sites, this function remains unconfirmed.

Foods were prepared with a variety of implements. Meat could have been cut up with the aid of heavy chipped bifaces (“cleavers”) and sharp flakes or blades (“knives”). Battered rocks, pitted stones, and mortars might have served to pound nuts, acorns, and seeds into flour and oil (Figure 9).

Figure 9. Ground Stone Tools. a-b, Abraders; c, Pitted Stone; d, Mortar. Photographs courtesy of Brian Cockerham.

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Cooking was done over hearths and in earth ovens. The earth oven was an ingenious Poverty Point invention. Nothing more than a hole in the ground to which hot baked clay objects were added, the earth oven was an efficient heat-regulating and energy-conserving facility. Small objects of baked clay were used to heat these baking pits (Figure 10). These little objects were hand molded. Fingers, palms, and sometimes tools were used to fashion dozens of different styles. These objects are a distinguishing hallmark of Poverty Point culture. So common are they that archaeologists refer to them as Poverty Point objects.

Figure 10. Baked Clay Heating Objects. a, Cylindrical; b-c, Cross-Grooved; d, Biconical Grooved; e, Biconical Plain; f, Melon-Shaped. Photographs courtesy of Brian Cockerham.

Modern experiments in earth oven cooking have been conducted (Hunter 1975; Gibson 1975). It was discovered through these experiments that the shapes of clay objects used determined the intensity and duration of temperatures inside the pits. This might have been a way of regulating cooking conditions, just like setting the time and power level in modern microwave ovens. Another important aspect of earth oven cooking is that it would have conserved firewood, which must have been a precious commodity around long-occupied villages.

Like modern Americans, Poverty Point peoples had a variety of vessels 22and contraptions for cooking, storage, and simple containment. They used vessels—pots and bowls—made of stone and baked clay. Stone vessels were chiseled out of soft sandstone and steatite (a dense, soft rock). Most stone vessels were plain but a few had decorations. Holes drilled near cracks show that these vessels were often repaired. Steatite was imported by the tons to the Poverty Point site from quarries in northern Georgia and Alabama (Webb 1944, 1977).

The Poverty Point pottery vessels mark the initial appearance of this kind of container in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Although not abundant, their presence has been accorded great historical significance by archaeologists. One archaeologist even argued that the art of making pottery was learned from Indians in South or Central America or through intermediaries along the Atlantic and eastern Gulf coasts. This view is very controversial. Other archaeologists prefer to think that ceramics, whatever their origin, were made by later people and that their appearance in Poverty Point garbage deposits was due to subsequent disturbances which churned and mixed earlier and later remains. And then there are other archaeologists who contend that Poverty Point people developed and made pottery largely on their own.

The extreme differences in pottery throughout the various Poverty Point territories support the latter view. In order to prevent cracking, some Poverty Point potters added vegetable fibers to the clay; others put sand and grit, bone particles, and hard lumps of clay; others added nothing. Decorations do seem to have followed rather universal styles, but each group of potters seems to have modified them to suit local tastes and to have added new features of their own.

Many other tools were used in everyday tasks of building houses, butchering animals and making other tools. We know Poverty Point peoples used stone tools for these jobs and probably also used wood, bone and antler ones, as well. Most of these were very similar to those used by earlier people.

Items such as hammerstones, whetstones, polishers, and others, were used mainly in a natural condition and required little or no preparation themselves. The characteristic shapes and signs of alteration that permit them to be recognized today got there through use and not intentional design.

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Other tools were carefully shaped. Gouges, adzes, axes, and drills fall into this category. The objects were chipped from large pieces of gravel or big flakes into desired shapes. Often polish or tiny grooves appear on the working edges of these tools, which leads us to suspect that they were used to chop and carve wood, dig holes, and drill substances.

Some of these items, especially celts and adzes (cutting tools with the blades set at right angles to the handles), have counterparts of ground and polished stone. These smoothed objects were made by chipping, battering, grinding, and polishing in combination or singly. Whether these more elaborate forms were used like their chipped varieties is difficult to say, but they probably were.

There is another group of chipped stone artifacts which is one of the most abundant tool classes at the Poverty Point and Jaketown sites and which occurs in respectable numbers at many Poverty Point villages (Webb 1977:42). These mysterious objects are called microliths. The most common form has been dubbed a Jaketown perforator (Haag and Webb 1953: Ford and Webb 1956). Typically, perforators are tiny artifacts, made from blades and flakes; they have one bulbous end and a narrow point. They were originally presumed to be drills or punches, but experiments showed that they could have been worn-out scrapers, resulting from whittling antler, bone, and perhaps wood (Ford and Webb 1956:77). Their abundance at Poverty Point and Jaketown suggests a rather commonplace function, and perhaps the experimental results have been rightly interpreted. Recently, however, an archaeologist made a revealing discovery. He noticed an obstruction in the bottom of an unfinished hole that was drilled in the center of a narrow-ended, rectangular stone tablet. Using a straight pin, he dislodged a small flint object. It was the broken end of a Jaketown perforator; so perhaps, they were used as drills after all!

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SYMBOLIC OBJECTS AND CEREMONIES
Poverty Point culture had many unique objects, but perhaps most important were its artifacts of personal adornment and symbolic meaning. In no other preceding or contemporary culture were so many ornaments and status symbols produced. Stone beads, made mostly of red jasper, predominated, but many other unusual objects were manufactured. Pendants were made in a multitude of geometric and zoomorphic shapes. Dominant were birds, bird heads, animal claws, foot effigies, turtles, and open clam shell replicas (Figure 11). Small, in-the-round carvings of “locusts” and fat-bellied owls were made and were evidently widely circulated, even among non-Poverty Point peoples (Webb 1971). One pendant from Jaketown (Webb 1977:Figure 25) was a polished tablet with a carved human face. Copper and galena beads and bangles were worn at the Poverty Point and Claiborne sites. Perforated human and animal teeth, cut out sections of human jaws, bone tubes, and bird bills (Webb 1977:52-53), dredged from the bottom mucks of the bayou below the Poverty Point site, reveal that much more ornamentation of perishable materials has disappeared.

Figure 11. Stone Ornaments. a, g, Pendants; b, Hour-Glass Bead; d-f, k, Tubular Beads; c, i-j, Fat Owl Effigy Pendants; h, Clam Shell Effigy; l-m, Buttons; n, Claw Effigy. Photographs courtesy of Brian Cockerham.

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It would hardly be apt to describe the folks at Poverty Point as gaudily dressed, but by comparison with their country neighbors living in little villages and with their trade partners in Arkansas, Mississippi, and other sections of Louisiana, they must have been quite “fancy” and impressively clothed. Because so much personal ornamentation occurs at Poverty Point itself, it is conceivable that social distinctions there were more numerous and more rigid than anywhere else at the time. There was only one Poverty Point. It must have seemed like New Orleans on Mardi Gras, Mecca during the pilgrimage, and Mexico City on market day—all rolled into one.

Hundreds of solid stone objects, such as cones, cylinders, spheres, cubes, trapezoids, buttons (Figure 11), and others, were also made by skilled craftsmen, mainly at the giant Poverty Point site (Webb 1977:48). Since utilitarian functions for these small objects are difficult to imagine, they too must have had ornamental, symbolic, or, perhaps, even religious meanings.

Religious and other symbolic purposes might have been served by stone pipes. Most were shaped like ice-cream cones or fat cigars. Other smoking tubes, made of baked clay, may have been the “poor man’s” versions of sacred pipes in regional communities outside the sphere of direct Poverty Point control. At the Poverty Point site, tubular clay pipes may have served more ordinary, nonreligious purposes. The presence of pipes, however, suggests that they might have been the first calumets used by Southeastern Indians; calumets being the most sacred symbols of intertribal relations, used to proclaim war and peace and to honor and salute important ceremonies and visiting dignitaries.

Other sacred objects may have included the small, crudely molded, clay figurines depicting seated women, many of whom appear to be pregnant (Figure 12). Heads were nearly always missing, although whether or not they were snapped off deliberately during ceremonies is purely conjectural. Perhaps, smaller, decorated versions of clay cooking objects may have had religious or social symbolic value as well.

It is also suspected that regular everyday artifacts could be turned into sacred ones under certain circumstances. This probably explains the 200 to 300 steatite vessels that were broken and buried in an oval pit a little southwest of the biggest mound at the Poverty Point site (Webb 1944). They must have been an offering of some kind. Other deposits of steatite vessels, both whole and broken, were found at the Claiborne site on the Gulf Coast (Gagliano 26and Webb 1970; Bruseth 1980). Religious and social meaning can be ascribed to virtually anything, and there need not be any recognizable intrinsic value or unusualness. No doubt thousands of other artifacts functioned in this nondomestic realm of behavior, and we just do not know what they are.

Figure 12. Female Figurines of Baked Clay. a-b, d, Torsos; c, Head. Photographs courtesy of Brian Cockerham.

Religion is one of the most powerful motive forces in culture. So it was in Poverty Point culture. It provided sanctions, direction, meaning, and explanation of great mysteries. It was central to group organization and leadership. It was the single most important source of power and was probably the underlying motivation for communal building projects and other group activities.

But unlike the other early great religions of the New World—Chavin in South America and Olmec in Lowland Mexico—Poverty Point religion seems to have lacked a special religious artwork. There are a few symbolic artifacts, such as fat-bellied owl pendants and locust effigies that have a widespread distribution (Webb 1971), but these objects often occur in earlier contexts and in contemporary, non-Poverty Point cultural situations. The lack of a widespread religious art style argues against the possibility of a universal state religion and implies that local populations had independent systems of worship.

The mounds and the specialized objects that functioned in ceremonial realms were probably all involved in some way with religion and ritual. Yet the nature of Poverty Point religion and worship remains unknown. Ancestor worship has been mentioned as one possibility. Amulets and charms, if 27correctly identified, imply beliefs in spirit forces or perhaps nature spirits. Bird representations in stone and earth suggest that birds may have been deified. Bird symbolism was an integral part of Southeastern religions during the Christian Era, and possibly its beginnings were in Poverty Point beliefs.

There is little information on Poverty Point burial practices. This is primarily due to the fact that there have been so few excavations, and those have been largely confined to residential areas in villages.

Mound B at Poverty Point covered an ash bed which contained fragments of burned bone (Ford and Webb 1956:35). Most were tiny and unidentifiable, but one was the upper end of a burned human femur, proving that at least one person had been cremated and covered by the earthen tomb.

Further evidence of cremation, as well as in-flesh burial, derives from the Cowpen Slough site near Larto Lake in central Louisiana. Although conceivably later, the burials were completely enveloped by Poverty Point occupational deposits which seemed to be undisturbed. Since the burial area was not completely excavated, many question marks still remain. However, we know that adults and at least one juvenile were buried. Some were in tightly bent positions, but the positions of others were not determined (Baker and Webb 1978; Giardino 1981). One small pit in the burial area contained fragments of an unburned adult in the bottom and an undisturbed cremation of a juvenile near the top (Giardino 1981). All of the excavated interments were close together, and the presence of surrounding postmolds (Baker and Webb 1978) may indicate burial beneath a house floor or some other structure. Except for a set of deer antlers, placed at the pelvis of one of the individuals, there were no apparent burial offerings; nearby artifacts seemed to be just household trash.

The only other known human remains that apparently date to the Poverty Point period were some teeth and a lower jaw dredged from the bottom mucks of Bayou Macon, the small stream that lies at the foot of the bluff beneath the Poverty Point site. These were not burials, however, but ornaments! The molars were perforated at crown bases, and the jaw section may have been cut into shape. These objects were probably more than just decorations; they may have served as amulets, magical charms, battle trophies, or religious objects symbolizing revered ancestors.

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SOCIETY AND GOVERNMENT
Society and government are the most difficult dimensions of prehistoric cultures for archaeologists to reconstruct. This is because they do not leave material remains and must be inferred indirectly. Yet social and political institutions are basic to every culture. They are primary factors that distinguish one group of people from another.

Attempts to determine social and political organization have been mainly limited to the Poverty Point site. It is hard, especially in light of accomplishments at the magnificent town of Poverty Point, to think of Poverty Point society as anything other than an advanced culture, perhaps attaining, if only momentarily, the threshold of civilization itself.

Political organization seems to have been as sophisticated. Just to run a town the size of Poverty Point—the largest in the country in 1000 B.C.—must have required administration far more complicated than that normally found in primitive bands or simple tribes. In addition to its giant size, there was an ambitious civic building program that required administering, as well as commercial trade enterprises that had to be overseen. All this pointed to strong, centralized authority and strict regulation.

Chiefdoms had these capabilities, and if the Poverty Point community comprised a chiefdom, it would be the first appearance of this elaborate socio-political institution in the prehistoric United States (Gibson 1974). The political arm of Poverty Point seems to have reached beyond the major municipal district. It no doubt embraced those nearby neighborhoods which stretched for more than three miles above and below the central enclosure. It probably extended farther to those bluff edge and lowland Villages within a 20 to 30 mile radius of the “capital.” If this 400-square-mile territory does represent the sphere of Poverty Point jurisdiction, it is likely that influence on the outer limits was restricted to special situations. Everyday life in these outlying villages must have normally transpired without influence or interference from the chiefdom center. There may have been yet another jurisdictional realm. Long-distance management, if not some degree of control, seems evident in foreign trade relations.

If indeed Poverty Point did exercise three levels of administration, over municipality, district, and commercial trade, it would have been one of the most complex developments in prehistoric America north of Mexico. This country would not see its like again until after A.D. 1000 and, even then, 29only in a few places in the East. There are dissenting views on the chiefdom hypothesis, and it will not be surprising if future studies find that different kinds of societies and distinctive structures, existed throughout the Lower Mississippi culture area.

Regardless of whether Poverty Point communities were chiefdoms or tribes or whether organization was complex or simple, there is no doubt that kinship played a dominant role in holding people together. Communities were most basically groups of kinfolks, joined by blood and marriage ties. Social relationships were based on familiarity. Social statuses were established by personal abilities and by birthright. The simpler the organization, the more important was personal ability and achievement; the more complex the society, the more important became birthright—family standing and inheritance.

Various studies have revealed that the Poverty Point community was well-ordered and highly structured. Part of that order and structure was due to social and political factors which permeated the basic fabric of Poverty Point society. Perhaps the best example of Poverty Point political organization is its well-run trading system.

Long-distance trade was a hallmark of Poverty Point culture. Like most other aspects of the culture, there is no consensus about the nature of the trade. Archaeologists argue about identifications and sources of trade materials, especially various flints, but no one questions that many materials were moved over long distances. Some materials originated more than 700 miles from the Poverty Point site, and extreme distances of more than 1000 miles sometimes separate sources from final destinations. Trade materials were quite varied and derived from many areas of the eastern United States, including the Ouachita, Ozark, and Appalachian mountains and the Upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes (Figure 13).

Poverty Point trade dealt primarily in rocks and minerals. At least so it seems. If other things were also circulated, they left no remains. Rocks do make good sense, however. Indians of the day made most of their tools out of rocks; they had no metal-working technology. Rocks do occur in the heartland of Poverty Point culture but mainly as gravels or as outcrops of crumbly sandstones, ironstones, and other soft materials, ill-suited for chipping. While local resources could have furnished (and did furnish for many Lower Mississippi cultures and many periods) all the essential materials for craft and tool “industries,” most of the materials imported by Poverty Point groups were better and prettier. They were obviously highly desired, and the quantities in which they were circulated shows that consumer demand was high and supply systems efficient.

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Figure 13. Areas of Poverty Point Trade Materials.

POVERTY POINT
A Copper, Banded Slate
B Gray Northern Flint
C Galena, Ozark Chert
D Black Bighorn Chert
E Novaculite, Hematite, Magnetite
F Quartz, Fluorite
G Pebble Chert
H Catahoula Sandstone
I Yellow Pebble Chert
J Brown Sandstone
K Red Jasper, Greenstone, Quartzite, Granite
L Steatite, Schist, Pickwick Chert
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The main question about Poverty Point trade concerns how materials were moved from one place to another. When this question first arose, one suggestion was that gathering expeditions were sent out from the big Poverty Point site itself (Ford and Webb 1956:125-126). Later, other means were proposed, means ranging from the activities of wandering merchants to ceremonial exchange systems connected with widespread festivals or religious proselytizing.

It seems that several Poverty Point villages, located north of the Poverty Point site, produced evidence that they were more directly involved with importation and exportation of certain rocks than was Poverty Point (Brasher 1973). In other words, these villages—Jaketown in Mississippi, Deep Bayou in southeastern Arkansas, and others—seemed to have been important trade outposts, where exotic materials, moving southward from northern source areas, were amassed and then locally distributed. The remainder, perhaps the surplus or a quota, was then sent on to the primary trade “market,” the huge town at Poverty Point. There, a major share of imported materials was consumed by folks living in the “city limits” and by their neighbors in little surrounding hamlets.

From Poverty Point, significant quantities of exotic raw materials were shipped further southward all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. At least some southbound exports were prefabricated before shipment. South Louisiana “markets” received a variety of raw materials but not a full array.

Several considerations are crucial to understanding Poverty Point trade. First, materials from outside the region, as well as local materials, were traded. Second, Poverty Point territories, though scattered and widely separated, lay on or near an interconnected system of waterways ultimately tied to the Mississippi River. This certainly supports the belief of the importance of waterborne transport, especially in view of the bulk of some imported materials. Third, geographic location looms as a major factor in import-export operations. There can be no question of the importance of the principal town of Poverty Point in the entire trade network. This major settlement did not fall at the geographic center of the exchange area but near the common junction of the major rivers that served as trade 32routes. Along these rivers between Poverty Point and sources of exotic materials were the trade outposts.

There are several equally plausible ways of looking at Poverty Point trade based on our presently limited knowledge. There are additionally many things we will probably never be able to find out, such as the motivation for trade and the circumstances under which it transpired among participating communities. For example, were trade relationships based on common political alliances or allegiances? Were religious ties paramount? Were purely capitalistic motives involved? Although we do not understand why it occurred, we are beginning to understand its mechanics a little better. The following is offered as one plausible reconstruction of how Poverty Point trade might have operated.

The capital of Poverty Point trade was the giant town of Poverty Point. It was the hub—the one place where all trade lines converged. It was the place where raw material and commodity shipments were destined. Other villages, located on rivers which joined Poverty Point with source areas of exotic materials, became important as trade outposts—gateway communities more directly involved with primary acquisition and initial relay of materials. It is probable that these outposts, like Jaketown and Deep Bayou, maintained rather exclusive connections with the peoples who were directly responsible for quarrying or collecting trade materials or through whom such materials had to first circulate. After amassing stocks of raw materials and extracting that portion essential for local use, these trade outposts then shipped the bulk of the commodities on to Poverty Point.

Some materials acquired by these gateway outposts never seem to have been passed on to the ultimate marketplace and others were sent on in small quantities compared with amounts actually obtained. It seems that each outpost had its own preferences for materials and that those supplies were used first to satisfy local needs before being exported. Yet some raw materials appear to have passed through these outposts without major local withdrawals. Perhaps Poverty Point was able to exercise monopolies on certain materials, though the ultimate source of power or persuasion used to insure them is unknown.

Once materials arrived at Poverty Point, several things seem to have happened. The lion’s share appears to have been consumed locally, mainly at the Poverty Point site itself but also within its immediately surrounding communities. The remaining portion seems to have been earmarked for 33movement on down river. Some southbound materials were passed on in rough, or unmodified condition, but some were trimmed and partially shaped. Some finished goods or artifacts also were distributed to southern consumers. What might have been given in exchange by these folks who lived in “rockless” areas of south Louisiana and south Mississippi is unknown but perishable goods are often mentioned in this connection. Limited trade in finished goods westward across southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana has also been documented.

It should be reemphasized that this reconstruction of Poverty Point trade is speculative. It is based on current data and current appreciation of prehistoric trade relationships. Yet there are many things we do not understand about Poverty Point trade, and the final word on this subject has not yet been spoken.

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A FINAL APPRAISAL
The preceding view of Poverty Point culture has been written much like an ethnographer might have described it if he had been able to go back some 3000 years in the past. Unfortunately, time travel and direct observation of extinct cultures are beyond our capabilities, and that is why much of the Poverty Point story must be written with such words as: seems, appears, perhaps, maybe, and other equivocal terms. The Poverty Point story is a patchwork of facts, hypotheses, guesses, and speculations. Often there are many different ways to look at the same set of data. This is why there are so many alternative interpretations and differences of opinion among archaeologists who study this fascinating culture. This should not be mistaken for a bad state of affairs. It is good and healthy. It is a sign to all that much remains to be done before we can present a detailed picture in which everyone can be confident.

But more than agreement or disagreement is the responsibility thrust upon everyone—archaeologist and public alike—who thirst for understanding of humankind. Poverty Point represents a charge and a commitment. The proud people who were carriers of Poverty Point culture are all dead. But the things they created, their magnificent achievements, their contributions to the saga of human development on this planet live on. Theirs is a legacy worth understanding.

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REFERENCES CITED
Baker, William S., Jr. and Clarence H. Webb

1978 Burials at the Cowpen Slough site (16CT147). Louisiana Archaeological Society, Newsletter 5(2):16-18.

Brasher, Ted. J.

1973 An investigation of some central functions of Poverty Point. Unpublished M.A. thesis, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches.

Bruseth, James E.

1980 Intrasite structure at the Claiborne site. In Caddoan and Poverty Point archaeology: essays in honor of Clarence Hungerford Webb, edited by Jon L. Gibson. Louisiana Archaeology 6 for 1979:283-318.

Byrd, Kathleen M.

1978 Zooarchaeological remains. In The peripheries of Poverty Point, by Prentice M. Thomas, Jr. and L. Janice Campbell. New World Research Report of Investigations 12:238-244.

Byrd, Kathleen M. and Robert W. Neuman

1978 Archaeological data relative to prehistoric subsistence in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, edited by Sam B. Hilliard. Geoscience and Man 19:9-21.

Duhe, Brian

1976 Preliminary evidence of a seasonal fishing activity at Bayou Jasmine. Louisiana Archaeology 3:33-74.

Ford, James A.

1955 The puzzle of Poverty Point. Natural History 64(9):466-472.

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Ford, James A.

1969 A comparison of Formative cultures in the Americas, diffusion of the psychic unity of man. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 11.

Ford, James A., Philip Phillips, and William G. Haag

1955 The Jaketown site in West-Central Mississippi. American Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Papers 45(1).

Ford, James A. and Clarence H. Webb

1956 Poverty Point, a Late Archaic site in Louisiana. American Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Papers 46(1).

Gagliano, Sherwood M. and Clarence H. Webb

1970 Archaic-Poverty Point transition at the Pearl River mouth. In The Poverty Point Culture, edited by Bettye J. Broyles and Clarence H. Webb. Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Bulletin 12:47-72.

Giardino, Marco

1981 (Untitled). Unpublished MS, on file with author, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Gibson, Jon L.

1973 Social systems at Poverty Point, an analysis of intersite and intrasite variability. Ph.D. dissertation, Southern Methodist University. University Microfilms, Ann Arbor.

1974 Poverty Point, the first North American chiefdom. Archaeology 27(2):96-105.

1975 Fire pits at Mount Bayou (16CT35), Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. Louisiana Archaeology 2:201-218.

Haag, William G. and Clarence H. Webb

1953 Microblades at Poverty Point sites. American Antiquity 18(3):245-248.

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Hunter, Donald G.

1975 Functional analysis of Poverty Point clay objects. Florida Anthropologist 28(1):57-71.

Jackson, H. Edwin

1981 Recent research on Poverty Point period subsistence and settlement systems: test excavations at the J. W. Copes site in northeast Louisiana. Louisiana Archaeology 8:73-86.

Kuttruff, Carl

1975 The Poverty Point site: north sector test excavation. Louisiana Archaeology 2:129-151.

Shea, Andrea B.

1978 Botanical remains. In The peripheries of Poverty Point, by Prentice M. Thomas, Jr. and L. Janice Campbell. New World Research Report of Investigations 12:245-260.

Smith, Brent W.

1974 A preliminary identification of faunal remains from the Claiborne site. Mississippi Archaeology 9(5):1-14.

Webb, Clarence H.

1944 Stone vessels from a northeast Louisiana site. American Antiquity 9(4):386-394.

1971 Archaic and Poverty Point zoomorphic locust beads. American Antiquity 36(1):105-114.

1977 The Poverty Point culture. Geoscience and Man 17.

Woodiel, Deborah K.

1981 Survey and excavation at the Poverty Point site, 1978. Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Bulletin 24:9-11.

Anthropological Study Series

No. 1 On the Tunica Trail by Jeffrey P. Brain
No. 2 The Caddo Indians of Louisiana by Clarence H. Webb & Hiram F. Gregory
No. 3 The Role of Salt in Eastern North American Peoples by Ian Brown
No. 4 El Nuevo Constante by Charles E. Pearson, et al.
No. 5 Preserving Louisiana’s Legacy by Nancy W. Hawkins
No. 6 Louisiana Prehistory by Robert W. Neuman & Nancy W. Hawkins
No. 7 Poverty Point by Jon L. Gibson

Publications can be obtained by writing

Division of Archeology
P.O. Box 44242
Baton Rouge, LA

Transcriber’s Notes
Silently corrected a few typos.
Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook is a government public document, and can be freely copied and distributed.
In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by _underscores_.