Louisiana Office of State Parks
An aerial view of the complex earthen mounds at Poverty Point that were built more than 3,000 years ago.

Poverty Point Earthworks Named World Heritage Site

ICTMN Staff
6/24/14

The Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point, a state park in Louisiana, have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site—making it the 22nd U.S. site on the World Heritage List, which also includes the Grand Canyon and the Cahokia Mounds. The designation is a global recognition of the site’s universal value.

“Located in Louisiana’s Lower Mississippi Valley, Poverty Point comprises a remarkable system of monumental mounds and ridges built into the landscape for residential and ceremonial use by a sophisticated society of hunter-fisher-gatherers,” reads a press release from the U.S. Department of State. “The impressive site survives as a testament to Native American culture and heritage. We are proud that the 26 Native American Tribes of United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) joined us in support of this World Heritage nomination.”

Poverty Point features an extensive collection of earthworks constructed 3,100 to 3,700 years ago including a vast complex of structures, enormous concentric ridges, and a large plaza. It may even be the largest hunter-gatherer settlement that ever existed.

A painting of Poverty Point mound site by Martin Pate. (crt.state.la.us)

According to the Louisiana Office of State Parks, it was built eight centuries after the Egyptian pyramids, but before the great Mayan pyramids in what is now northeastern Louisiana. The sophisticated builders constructed a complex array of earthen mounds and ridges overlooking the Mississippi River flood plain. The central construction at Poverty Point consists of six rows of concentric ridges, which form a semi-ellipse or C-shape that is divided into sections by at least four aisles. The outermost ring is almost three-quarters of a mile.

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