Native Americans, who occupied what is known as the Poverty Point in northern Louisiana more than 3,000 years ago, have long been believed to be simple hunter-gatherers. But the archaeological discoveries of the new University of Washington in St. Louis depict a dramatically different picture of America’s first civilization.
Far from the simplicity of life sometimes depicted in anthropological books, these early indigenous peoples have advanced skills that can build huge soil structures in months and even weeks. As an engineer, I was able to withstand the challenges of time.
“we Research communityWe underestimate indigenous peoples and their abilities and can do this job quickly the way they did, “said Tristram R.” TR “, lead author and professor Edward S. Morse and Professor Teddy Mathias. Kidder says. Of anthropology in art and science.
“One of the most notable points is that these earthworks have been put together for over 3,000 years without breakdowns or major erosion. By comparison, modern bridges, highways and dams are from the soil. It breaks down surprisingly regularly because it’s more complicated than you to make. They were really great engineers with very sophisticated technical knowledge. “
Survey results published in Southeastern archeology September 1, 2021. Kai Su, Seth B. Grooms of the University of Washington, graduates Edward R. Henry (Colorado) and Kelly Ervin (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) also contributed to this treatise.
The Pobati Point World Heritage Site consists of a huge 72-foot-high burial mound and concentric semi-circular ridges. The structure was built by hunter-gatherers about 3,400 years ago from about 3 million cubic yards of soil. Surprisingly, this was done without the luxury of modern tools, livestock and even wheeled carts.
According to Kidder, this place, like Mecca, may have been an important religious place for Native Americans to come to the pilgrimage. It was suddenly abandoned 2,000 to 2,200 years ago due to recorded floods and climate change in the Mississippi Valley.
The ridge of the poverty point has a large amount of relics around and inside the edges, suggesting that people lived there. Kidder and his team rediscovered and reassessed the site of Ridge West 3, a poverty point site first unearthed by renowned archaeologist Jon Gibson in 1991.
Using state-of-the-art research techniques such as radiocarbon dating, microscopic soil analysis, and magnetic soil measurements, this study provides conclusive evidence that earthworks were rapidly constructed. In essence, there is no evidence of boundaries or signs of weathering between the various levels. This would have happened if the construction had been suspended for any time. Kidder said construction was completed by stacking layers of lift, or sediment, to increase ridge height and linear dimensions before placing another layer to extend the footprint vertically and horizontally. thinking about.
Why is it important? According to Kidder, the findings disagree with previous beliefs about how pre-modern hunter-gatherers behaved. Building huge mounds and ridges at poverty points required a large, well-organized workforce pool, and leadership was required to implement it. Hunters and gathers were believed to avoid politics.
“Between the speed of excavation and construction and the amount of Earth moving, these data show us Indigenous people Come to the site and work together.What is noteworthy in itself Hunter-gatherer You shouldn’t be able to do these activities. “
Even more striking than how quickly people built earthen structures is the fact that they are still intact. Due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the area is heavily rained and the earthworks are particularly vulnerable to erosion. Microscopic analysis of the soil shows that Native Americans mixed different types of soil (clay, silt, sand) with a recipe calculated to make the structure stronger.
“Similar to Roman concrete and rammed earth in China, Native Americans have found a sophisticated way to mix different types of materials to make them virtually indestructible, even though they are not compressed. There are some magics that modern engineers still don’t understand, “said Kidder.
Tristram R. Kidder et al, a multi-method geoarchaeological analysis, shows the very rapid construction of Ridge West 3 at the poverty point. Southeastern archeology (2021). DOI: 10.1080 / 0734578X.2021.1958445
Washington University in St. Louis
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New evidence supports the idea that America’s first civilization was made up of “sophisticated” engineers.
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