New Evidence for Poverty Point’s Complex Developmental History


Magnetic survey at Poverty Point reveals new information about ritual facilities, ridge construction and use, and a complex developmental history that included both planned and organic growth. Thirty-eight circles (diameters range from 8 to 66 m with a mean of 35 m) in the plaza are interpreted as ritual facilities. Targeted excavation in four circles encountered large postholes in three but the fourth consists of pits. Magnetic images suggest closely spaced postholes in many circles, possibly indicating rebuilding by inserting new posts between older removed posts. Some circles overlap with and—assuming ridge slopes were steep—may predate the inner ridges. The concentric ridges are distinguished by negative magnetic "perimeter" anomalies and habitation materials. Innermost Ridges 1 and 2 have multiple perimeter anomalies suggesting extensive rebuilding. Ridges 3-5 lack that evidence of reconstruction and presumably date later. Planning is evident at Poverty Point, but several stages of ridge construction, extensive rebuilding of some ridges and circles, and overlapping ritual circles and domestic ridges suggesting shifts in activity patterning are inconsistent with interpretations that imply nearly synchronous construction and rigid adherence to a detailed masterplan.

Cite this Record

New Evidence for Poverty Point’s Complex Developmental History. Michael Hargrave, R. Berle Clay, Diana Greenlee, Rinita Dalan. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445111)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21515