Scientific editing by Vance Holliday
Building Mound A at Poverty Point, Louisiana: Monumental Public Architecture, Ritual Practice, and Implications for Hunter-Gatherer Complexity
Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 28, Issue 1, pages 66–86, January/February 2013
How to Cite
Ortmann, A. L. and Kidder, T. R. (2013), Building Mound A at Poverty Point, Louisiana: Monumental Public Architecture, Ritual Practice, and Implications for Hunter-Gatherer Complexity. Geoarchaeology, 28: 66–86. doi: 10.1002/gea.21430
- Issue published online: 11 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 16 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Received: 17 JUL 2012
- Louisiana Division of Archaeology
- Louisiana Office of State Parks
Hunter-gatherer societies are often characterized by limited complexity and social equality. Therefore, the construction of monumental architecture by hunter-gatherers is seen as the manifestation of social and political inequality. The massive size and rapid construction of Mound A at Poverty Point (ca. 3261 cal. yr B.P.) in northeast Louisiana challenges these notions. Geoarchaeological investigations of stratigraphy at the macro- and micro-levels shows there are no erosion events, natural episodes of soil formation, or cultural stages. We infer from these results that Mound A was constructed by a large labor force over a short period of time. There is no evidence, however, that the mound was constructed under the aegis of a ranked socio-political system. We argue instead that the mound was constructed as a ritual feature and that leadership required to mobilize labor and resources was situational and emerged through ritual practice that developed because of the need to integrate a large population.