Archive for Earthworks

Poverty Point, The Manufacturing of Copper Oxhides for the Atlantic Copper Trade

Bronze Age Town & Gulf Ports on the Copper Trail

Open-fire manufacturing of Copper Oxhides

(NE Louisiana, & Mississippi c.2000-700 BC)


J.S. Wakefield,


Photos coming soon, apologies from AA staff.



The “Late Archaic” Poverty Point earthworks in Louisiana are the earliest and largest monuments in prehistoric North America. The site that remains covers a square mile, features six concentric segmented semi-circular walls, surrounded by six large mounds. The site is shown to be a prehistoric town, and a manufacturing and trading center which was a part of the worldwide megalithic culture. The site design reveals encoded latitudes of transatlantic sailing routes, and evidence of multicultural involvement in the manufacturing of copper oxhide ingots.


Introduction & Dating

The Poverty Point complex is a Louisiana State Commemorative Area, open to the public, and has been a National Historical Landmark since 1962. Collectors have been picking up artifacts since the 1870’s, but it was not recognized as such a huge site until the ring pattern was recognized in a 1938 aerial photograph (Fig.2, right). The American Museum of Natural History dug at the site in 1942/3 and 1955, and showed “how large and unusual [the site] was” (Ref.1). Today, there is a road built through the rings, and 15,000 visitors a year pass through the site’s museum. Some of the illustrations used in this article are from the book (The Ancient Mounds of Poverty Point, Place of the Rings) and website of John L. Gibson, previously employed as the site archaeologist, who devoted his career to the study of Poverty Point.


The site is located in the northeastern corner of Louisiana, northwest of Vicksburg, Mississippi at 33°N (Fig.1). Poverty Point is built on Maçon Ridge, a plateau 90 miles long, and five miles wide, in the swampy floodplains of the Mississippi River. Gibson reports 38 radiocarbon dates, all between 2278 BC (2470-2040) and 650 BC, with most between 1500 and 1300 BC. Gibson says that while the land and waters were biologically rich, the richest asset was the location. “This was one of the few places in the entire Mississippi valley where a departing pirogue could have been paddled without portages”(Refs.1,2).

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The Serpent Effigy of Lyons, Kansas

by, John J White, III, Beverley H. Moseley, Jr, and Cyclone Covey

Originally published in the Midwestern Epigraphic Society Newsletter, Volume 18, Number 2.


A leading objective of the MES founders was the reporting of new information and interpretations that would lead to a better understanding of Ohio, Ohio River Valley, and Midwestern ancient history.  Thus it should come as no surprise that we view the Great Serpent Mound of Adams County, Ohio as an extremely significant artifact left by the higher cultures of ancient Ohio.  The serpent Mound could be related to the so-called Mound Builder culture, but the exact interpretation eludes us to date.  Corroborative news and interpretation related to our ideas on this subject are thus very exciting.

The figure in the next column is a conceptual replica of the Adams County Serpent, especially with regard to the presence of an egg-shaped object.  This serpent is a 160-foot long manmade soil-depression (intaglio excavation) discovered near Lyons, Kansas (central) in 1917 but only investigated archaeologically after 1980 by Clark Mallam of Luther College in Iowa.  We learned of the Lyons Serpent via an interpretive study made by Joseph Hickey and Charles Webb of Emporia State University.

Mallam trenched for artifacts with little result.  He then made sightings on three nearby earthen mounds called the Quiviran Council Circles.  The alignments were so favorable for equinox observation that Mallam concluded that the ovoid object in the Lyons Serpent’s jaws represented the sun.  It is claimed that this idea is a common metaphor among many Native American groups!  It is suggested that on the longest day of the year, the serpent literally swallowed the sun thereby threatening all life with extinction.  But, of course, nothing visual really happens!

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Preview: Upcoming Story in Ancient American Magazine

Here is a preview of my next article for Ancient American

Ancient Fortresses of the Ohio Valley Part 3: Grave Creek Complex; Smoke and Mirrors


In the first installment of this series (AA, Vol 17, Issue 101), I described two ancient fortresses, Merom Bluff and Devil’s Backbone, both in Indiana. In the second installment (Vol 17, Issue 102), I outlined the line of sight communications network that seems to have existed between those two sites and showed specific placements of the towers and hills used. In this installment, we examine the bigger picture, from the headwaters of the Ohio to the Mississippi, but we are not traveling on the rivers, this trip is overland, primarily.

No examination of the fortresses of the Ohio Valley and the network they comprised would be complete without inclusion of the Grave Creek Mound Complex, as it once existed on both sides of the Ohio River near present day Moundsville, West Virginia.

Grave Creek Mound itself is a 66 foot tall conical mound that overlooks a portion of the Ohio River and both the Little Grave Creek and Big Grave Creek drainage basins. It was described as 75 feet tall at the beginning of the 19th century. In addition to the large mound, there were at least fifteen other earthen or earth and stone structures that were part of the greater complex. These were mapped by H. R. Schoolcraft in 1843. According to Schoolcraft, all appear to have been used as signaling places. Although nearly all the “ancillary” earthworks are destroyed or obscured by modern development, the terrain where they were built is easy to recognize from Schoolcraft’s work. They were on both sides of the Ohio and up to several miles north of the big mound on the upland, a couple of them out of sight of the river. The two northernmost of Schoolcraft’s map form a line that runs west southwest to east north east and seem oddly placed in the limited context of the Grave Creek Complex. The tower that was both on the Ohio side of the river and on this line had an earthen and stone , and possibly palisade defensive works around it, as did another tower on the Ohio side on the bluff west of the town where the river bends westward.


In 1838, an archaeological excavation of Grave Creek Mound, led by Jesse and Abelard Tomlinson, uncovered the ruins of two large vaults, one situated directly below the other. The vaults contained several human skeletons and a considerable amount of jewelery and other artifacts. According to Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who visited the site in 1843, the Grave Creek Stone was discovered in the upper vault, along with seventeen hundred beads, five hundred sea shells, five copper bracelets, and one hundred and fifty plates of mica. The Grave Creek Tablet was “a small flat stone, of an ovate shape, containing an inscription in unknown characters”. Read more

Geoglyphology, An Ancient Science Rediscovered

Geoglyphology, An Ancient Science Rediscovered


Arthur D. Faram
Faram Research Foundation – Arlington, Texas

Recently Arthur Faram, while investigating his Celtic Genealogy, discovered an ancient and historically revealing science.

After determining that this science had not been mentioned in any previous publications, The Faram Research Foundation named the ancient science Geoglyphology. “Geo” for earth, “glyph” for writing and “ology “ for the study of… . The original function of Geoglyphology, by the ancients, was to mark and claim territories. Since its rediscovery, this ancient science has been used to expand both the search area and the knowledge base available to the Archeologist and related disciplines. In addition, since the science was primarily used to mark large territories, claimed by the originator of the geoglyph, the resultant findings are rewriting history. Read more