A Palynological Study of Swamp Sediments at the Poverty Point Archaeological Site, Northeastern Louisiana
Date of Award
The Poverty Point site, characterized by elaborate earthworks, was occupied from about 1500 B.C. to 500 B.C. (Webb 1982). The site was the central node for a large manufacturing network at the end of the late Archaic Period. Questions of subsistence and the demise of the culture remain unanswered. This thesis employs a palynological study of a swamp in the Poverty Point archaeological site (16WC5), northeastern Louisiana. Eight cores were taken from a swamp immediately adjacent to the mounds at the site. Loss-on-ignition was done for four cores. Two cores, cores PP5 and PP7 were used for pollen analysis; core PP7 was used for Lead-210 dating and charcoal analysis. The source of fill for most of the mounds is a mystery. The prevailing hypothesis is that the swamp was a "borrow pit" dug up by the Poverty Point inhabitants, and the earth used to build the mounds. The primary objective of this thesis is to test the hypothesis that the swamp was a "borrow pit" from which the Poverty Point inhabitants removed dirt to build the mound complex. No conclusive answer could be found on whether the swamp is the fabled borrow pit or not. It was either a depression or an active stream channel at the time of occupation. The pollen data document the change in forest cover around Poverty Point. The forest cover around the site was a pine-oak bottomland hardwood forest until the development of farming in the early to mid-19th century. The farm was abandoned before the turn of the century and forest recovery can be seen. A pecan grove may have been planted in the area around 1935. The current swamp conditions have only developed since 1950s.
Thomas, Karen, "A Palynological Study of Swamp Sediments at the Poverty Point Archaeological Site, Northeastern Louisiana" (1996). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 8263.