Poverty Point: Part 1

So as part of routine hazing for graduate school, all the newbies + myself are going on an overnight trip to some of Louisiana’s  historical sites. The trip, which commences tomorrow morning and ends Sunday evening, will take us to a place called Poverty Point. I had never heard of this place until the field trip was scheduled, but was pretty amazed when I looked up some of its history.

Apparently Poverty Point, located in northeastern Louisiana and titled after its people of the same name, predates the Aztecs at more than 1200 BCE. A protected national historic landmark, Poverty Point State Historic Site contains several ,man-made mounds enclosing an amphitheater, which is believed to have bordered the Mississippi River more than 3000 years ago.

Just eight centuries after the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt, and before the Mayan empire, our ancestral Louisianans were constructing one of the most advanced architectural structures of its time. It took several centuries to complete, built in pieces through many generations, archeologists posit.

The five-aisle, six-section theatre, which measures three-quarters of a mile in length, confounds many anthropologists. Why? Because unlike the Egyptians, the Mayans and other ancient, advanced cultures, the people of Poverty Point were hunter-gatherers, not growers. This is very rare.

It’s safe to say I’m quite enthused about this trip.

We are also going to the Port Hudson State Historic Site, located in East Feliciana Parish, La. Another national historic landmark, it was the location of the longest siege of the Civil War, lasting from May 23 through July 9, 1863. Not much of a Civil War buff, it will be nice to get some education from the “other” side of the war.

Grand Village of the Natchez Indians will be our next stop. This I am struggling with. If you know me well, you know a good part of my family is from the Natchez tribe. I have never been in touch with that part of my family’s history for a variety of reasons. Our Native heritage is something of a sore subject for my family.

Next we are heading to a cotton farm in La. that uses “cutting edge biotechnology, remote sensing, GPS, GIS, and soil convservation practices.” This is where the techy/nerdy side of me will get some much-needed satisfaction (added with the prospect of employment upon graduation).

Our last stop will be a tour of the Old River Control Structure. This is particularly of interest to those interested in water resources. Here, one-third of the Mississippi River is diverted to the Atchafalaya River in an attempt to keep it from changing course and destroying much of our infrastructure built along it. I did a report on this structure in my undergrad River Environments course at Syracuse University, so it will be exciting to see it up-close.

I will be updating my twitter during the trip with pictures, info and more. When we get back, I’ll write up a field report to share with all my loyal readers. 🙂

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