Based on the latest studies, one can make an assumption about a much more complex social organization of the first inhabitants of America than previously thought.
The indigenous people of the New World who inhabited the Poverty Point region of northeastern Louisiana more than three thousand years ago were previously considered to be hunter-gatherers. But a study by scientists from the Universities of Washington and Colorado (USA) showed that their community, apparently, was more complex.
Everything you need to know about America’s first civilization
The Poverty Point archaeological site
The Poverty Point Archaeological Site is an ancient earthen structure and mounds built by local people between 1700 and 1000 BC, during the late archaic period of North American history.
Not so primitive
Scientists believe that this is the oldest civilization in the region but until recently, it was believed that these ancient people were primitive. This was evidenced by the jewelry and tools that were discovered in the past. Yet, the structures that this civilization left behind were found to be extremely intricate and difficult to build even with the technologies of 21st-century architecture.
Purpose of the structures
Their exact purpose is unknown: it was probably something like a trading platform or a ritual complex. Scientists theorize that the location might have served as a religious center that was visited by pilgrims from different places on the continent.
The construction took more than one and a half million cubic meters of land. These structures were erected without modern tools, equipment, and even wheeled vehicles or draft animals. At this time in history, in America, local people had no horses or domesticated cattle. How they did it remains a mystery.
Three thousand years old
And the most amazing thing is that the earthen structures have existed for more than three thousand years without additional fortifications. Moreover, modern bridges or dams built using the latest technologies are destroyed much faster.
Poverty Point, like many other similar monuments of antiquity, was suddenly abandoned in its time. This happened about two thousand years ago – probably due to floods in the Mississippi Valley and climate change.
Using modern dating methods, including radiocarbon dating, microscopic soil analysis, and others, scientists have obtained evidence that the embankments were created in a short time. No traces of weathering were found between the levels.
This means that for construction of this scale, a serious personnel reserve was needed, which was not only well organized but also had a certain qualification. Even more impressive is the fact that the structures are still intact, although due to the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, a large amount of precipitation falls in these parts, eroding such embankments.
Different types of soil
As shown by microscopic analysis of the soil, the builders mixed different types – clay, silt, and sand – in the right proportions to achieve the special strength of the structure. Thus, the Native Americans discovered the recipe for “concrete” from the soil, which, according to the researchers, were not capable of simple hunter-gatherers.
More complex than previously thought
Based on this, one can make an assumption about a more complex social organization of America’s first civilization.
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• Florida News Times. (2021, September 2). New evidence supports the idea that America’s first civilization was made up of “SOPHISTICATED” ENGINEERS.
• Kidder, T. R. (n.d.). Multi-method GEOARCHAEOLOGICAL analyses DEMONSTRATES exceptionally rapid construction of ridge WEST 3 at poverty point. Taylor & Francis.
• Phys.org. (2021, September 2). New evidence supports idea that America’s first civilization was made up of ‘SOPHISTICATED’ ENGINEERS.
• Savat, S. (2021, September 1). New evidence supports idea that America’s first civilization was made up of ‘sophisticated’ engineers: The Source: Washington University in St. Louis. The Source.