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, email@example.com
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).
The River and the Bayou
The huge ring complex is on a bluff above the west bank of Bayou Maçon. Other abandoned river channels and the route of the Bayou Macon indicate an active branch of the Mississippi flowed against the site in the past. Gibson’s reconstruction drawing of the site (Fig.3) shows the steepness of the “precipitous bluff” on the east side of the site. The water of the bayou below is still, with fall maple leaves floating on the surface (Fig.4). This is the Bayou Macon, which originates near another isolated oxbow bend of the Mississippi in Arkansas, now called Chicot Lake. This valley bottom of the Mississippi today contains many “bayous”, which once were river channels, and vast swamps, with 29 Wildlife Refuges and Wildlife Management Areas. By air, the valley shows hundreds of old oxbows, and bayous. The Mississippi is a powerful river that spills a “half a million tons of sediment a day” into the Gulf of Mexico. The Chandeleur Islands in the Gulf (east of New Orleans, south of the State of Mississippi) “are remnants of a delta that vanished 1800 years ago (200 AD), when the river shifted its channel – something it has done six times in the last 9,000 years” (Ref.50).
“Precipitous bluffs” that are not rock are quickly eroded to a lesser slope unless they are being eroded at the bottom by active water. This “precipitous” bluff must have been made by a meandering branch of the Mississippi in relatively recent geologic times. Was Poverty Point built in a “C” shape as we see it in Gibson’s Fig.3? Probably not. It was a trading center, where it was visited by people carrying heavy goods, including rock and metal, by water. These people would not have wanted to portage these goods in and out of bayous and swamps, and so would have chosen a site easily accessible by boat. Surely boats would have had direct access to the Poverty Point site. Four thousand years ago, prior to levees on the Mississippi, there was an annual flood season. The glacial meltwater from the Great Lakes and ice dam collapses at the southern end of Lake Superior brought major flooding events.These were times of fast flow. Then there were times of slow flow, when it is said a canoe could have been paddled up the Mississippi. When coming upriver from the Gulf, the Macon Ridge may have been the first high ground suitable for a settlement and trading site.
The site had been inhabited for more than a thousand years, but suffered a huge setback with the catastrophe of 1200 BC. Archaeologist Kidder says: “the elaborate trade and mound building abruptly ceased. Research has shown evidence for catastrophic flooding and global climate change c.1200-400 BC. The evidence comes from geological and soils mapping, archaeological and stratigraphic investigations, and an extensive program of coring. The greatly increased flood frequencies and magnitudes are associated with the demise of Poverty Point culture” (Ref.26).
The huge plexiglass panel display (Fig.5) hanging in the Visitor Center (contradicting Gibson) shows the “abandoned” and “new” channels (in black lettering on the plexiglass) of the Mississippi at “1000 BC” when it changed its channel. The River moved against the bluff, eroding almost half the rings, but when it meandered back the other way, it left the isolated bayou as we see it today.
That the site was originally circular is confirmed by the evidence reported by J.A. Ford and C.H. Webb following their excavations for the American Museum of Natural History in 1955 (Ref.49). They found the “distinguishing reddish brown clay soil [iron salts] of the Arkansas river” in the natural levees of the Bayou Macon and a layer of it in the trenches they dug across some of the rings. This layer “contrasted markedly with the gray soils deposited by the Mississippi”. “The Braided Mississippi did much, but not all, of the final cutting into the eastern edge of Macon Ridge … the meandering course of the Arkansas River … carved the bluff and appears to have destroyed about half of the large geometrical earthworks” (Ref.49).
The original structure as a circular ring design is illustrated in Figure 5. Between 2500 BC and 1200 BC a thousand stone circles were built in the British Isles, showing a paradigm change in thinking when the other side of the world was discovered, and the world was confirmed to be round. This new conception of the world brought continued repetition of the representation of the Earth as a sphere. Many actual stone spheres are found. The most well known examples are in the Costa Rican Disquis Delta, but they are also found in Brittany and other places. The Bronze Age city of Atlantis was designed in circular shape. Stonehenge III was a circular site, also built at about 2,000 BC, the same time as Poverty Point.
The Earthworks: The Circular Rings
Poverty Point has “11.2 miles of artificial ridges”, at one point about 7 feet high. A few of these were trenched by the American Museum in 1955, and were thought to support dwelling sites (Ref.49). These rings can be shown to have a geometric plan (Fig.6). From north to south, the mounds B, A, L, and J are situated on a straight line, called the western North-South axis. (The site axes are not true N-S lines, but point 8° NNW, called “Poverty Point North” (“PPN”). This is similar to Olmec La Venta, on the south side of the Gulf of Mexico, designed at about the same time, both oriented opposite their sites’ (magnetic) deviation of 8° east.) The line through the mounds M and D, called the eastern North-South axis, runs parallel to it. The 90°۠right angle intersection of the east axis with line A-C from Mound A will be called point C, and the line A-C we call the horizontal axis. Apparently, this point C is considered the “center of the plaza. The line connecting mound B and the center C makes angles of 45° with the horizontal and vertical lines. The line L-D, from Ballcourt Mound to Dunbar Mound, is at right angles, or near to right angles to B-C. These lines are the baselines of the complex.
There are 5 aisles which connect the central plaza with the area outside the rings. They divide the figure into segments of comparable size. The plaza was found to be “free of trash”, but numerous filled-in holes up to 3 feet diameter were found “where posts had been set” on the western side. The SW segment possesses a special wall, parallel to the corridor beside it, which is called the Causeway. This Causeway continues to run beyond the rings in southwestern direction over a distance of 800 feet. No burials have yet been identified at Poverty Point.
The circular rings of Poverty Point model the planet Earth more accurately than you would expect. The rings are symbolic for the “Wheel of the Law”, dedicated to Maat, the Egyptian goddess of law and order in the universe. The 6 walls in 10 segments of the full circle form 6 x 10= 60 units, showing the sailing route below Cape Farvel at 60°N. The 6 mounds X 6 rings = the latitude of Gibraltar at 36°N, and with 10 segments of the rings, may also show the size of the Earth, at 360°. Since a moira is the Egyptian distance unit for 1°, and our unit is the Nautical Mile (1°= 60 NM), they probably indicate the circumference of the Earth to be 360 moira, which would be 360 X 60= 21,600 NM, which is correct.
Gibson shows 38 radiocarbon date tests, with results running from 2300 BC (possibly 2470), to 650 BC (possibly AD 70). These radiocarbon datings put the site in the Late Archaic period in North America. The massive earthworks and tons of “exchange rocks” were considered incompatible with the Archaic “hunter-gatherer” period. But no agriculture, and very little pottery could be found, which has been very troubling to archaeologists. When one finds corn agriculture, earthworks and pottery, the culture is called “Woodland”, and these sites are one or two thousand years more recent than early Poverty Point. There are no large rocks at Poverty Point, so the site features earthworks, not huge stone monuments. The whole complex of mounds has a North-South length of 3.5 miles, and a width of nearly a mile. At the center of the site are the 6 concentric, semi-circular walls around a wide plaza. The 5-8 foot tall rings are now reduced to one foot by plowing. Following its 1950’s work, the American Museum of Natural History in New York reported dark middens (old debris) on the fore and aft slopes of the rings, and postholes on the rings, suggesting occupied buildings on the rings. Their work consisted of test holes, not excavated areas, so no patterns of construction have been seen. Gibson reports that “less than 3/10 of 1% of the area of the rings has been excavated” (.3%).
The Site Design and encoded latitudes
We have found that the site latitude is usually encoded clearly in the site design at Bronze Age sites. The line LC points 33° from the horizontal axis. This is the latitude of Poverty Point, 33°N. The angles between the major axes of the site and the mounds, show many of the latitudes frequently found in megalithic sites on both sides of the Atlantic. The angle of the Causeway is 39°, the latitude of the West Azores (39°N), the focus of safe return trips to the Old World. The junction of the Illinois with the Mississippi on the Copper Trail, and the Serpent Mound of Ohio are also at 39°N. Its reciprocal, 51°, is the latitude where the Belle Isle Strait joins the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and is also the site latitude of Stonehenge, in England. Stonehenge had been enlarged by adding the large Sarcen Stones in its center at about 2000 BC, commemorating the discovery of the New World (Ref.3), its development probably slowed by the comet disaster of 2347 BC. This famous monument, also built in a circular design, was probably known to the builders of Poverty Point.
The angle between L-D and the axis, could be 45°, depending on just where the measurements were taken. This would add symmetry to the design, since B-C is at 45°. If not intentionally replicating this angle, it is likely that the intended angle is 43°, which shows the important Nautical Center of America’s Stonehenge, at 43°N, north of Boston. This is the largest megalithic stone monument in North America, where sailors with shiploads of copper were taught how to sail back to Europe (Ref.3). This is also the latitude on the Copper Trail where the Wisconsin River joins the Mississippi. The reciprocal angle of line L-C is 47°, the latitude of Cape Race, the eastern Cape of North America. The latitude of the Keweenaw copper mines is also 47°N. Other angles important to sailing the Atlantic are indicated, 45°N (Nova Scotia), 35°N (Cape Hatteras), 55°N (Hamilton Inlet), 21°N (Yucatan), 15°N (Cape Gracias a Dios, Honduras), and 13°N (Barbados, and Mid Caribbean Islands).
Ford and Webb calculated that 980,000 cubic yards of earth were moved in the construction of the mounds and rings, equal to “40 million basket loads” (Ref.49).
The “Bird Effigy” Mound A is often described as having the shape of a bird flying to the west (Fig.2). Supporting this interpretation is a potsherd in the site museum that has an eagle image on it. The mound has a two-story flat platform facing the rings on the east, and a ramp up to its western top, at 70 feet. Excavations have shown that at least several of the mounds were built in separate stages, with platforms being used for an unknown period before being covered with more earth (Ref.22). This height is second only to the original height of upriver Monk’s Mound at Cahokia, considered the largest in the USA, which was built two thousand years later.
In Greek mythology, eagles were symbols of Zeus. In Egypt, the falcon was the image of heavenly power, an image of Ra, the Sungod, who was also imaged as a circular golden disc, rising each morning between the horns of Taurus, the bull in the Zodiac. The Benu Bird of Ra was the bird of solar creation, that undergoes death and is a symbol of regeneration (Ref.32). Professor Covey, Emeritus Professor of History, Wake Forest College, states that “both mounds apparently modeled after the gigantic flying-bird effigy at San Lorenzo” (near La Venta, Mexico) (Ref.28). A similar-looking spread wing eagle effigy 32 feet wide was found inside a mound in Ohio, which was surrounded, in European style, by standing slabs of stone, now reburied (Ref.23). Milner, author of The Moundbuilders, says “These works without question reflect the northern Native American cosmological theories of ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘snakes’, which reflect the fear of comets, tied to the appearance of Comet Enecke in 1628 BC, and tied to its climate collapse. An early form of priest-kings were functioning in these massive ‘thunderbird’ mounds, trying to emulate the thunderbirds, and protect the people against the impacts” (Ref.22).
In Egyptian hierarchy, below the SunGod Ra, were two other important gods, the sungod Horus and the moongod Osiris. In an Egyptian temple, it is recorded that the SunGod Ra has said: “The Realm of the Dead is in the west, at the other side of the waters, in the Land where the Sun sets.” In Poverty Point the two big Mounds may represent these gods. The somewhat smaller Motley Mound (M) is located at the end of the north axis, fenced off on private property, covered by trees. It symbolizes Horus, also the god of the North Star. The Bird Mound A is located at the end of the west axis. It symbolizes Osiris, the god of the Underworld, the West. The river symbolizes the “waters”, and the ring walls are “the setting Sun”. The site is the partially explored “Heavenly Empire in the Underworld”, located at the west side of the river, just as the tombs of Egypt were built on the west side of the Nile, the direction of the Underworld.
Conical shaped Mound B has had quite a bit of excavation. Gibson reports that Mound B did not contain burials, but was raised over the ashes of a huge bonfire, which had consumed at least one person. It was conical, two stories high, built in four major stages. Interestingly, “in Egyptian temple art, Anubis (the black dog with ears standing up) is usually paired with a conical pyramid” (Ref.15). Remember the 6” polished black statue of Anubis reported found while digging for water in a 10’ trench on a small island off the northeast coast of Haiti (Ref.43). Note that the early Olmec pyramid at La Venta is a conical pyramid. The Canaries have a high perfectly conical volcanic mountain (Pico), and conical pyramid structures. Mt Atlas was described as a conical volcanic mountain. Probably, conical mounds were simulating the volcanic conical mountains, perhaps symbols of the West.
The rectangular double-decked Dunbar Mound (D), (now called “Mound C” by the Site Archaeologist) was found to have postmold patterns on several of the building stages. The long side of the mound was lined up with the N-S axis. Today sloughing of the bluff has cut what remains of the mound in half. Large quantities of hematite, magnetite, slate, quartz crystals, galena, kaolinite, red ochre, and granite scraps were left on floor layers in the mound, indicating that mound-top activities included preparation of pigments for ceremonial face and body painting, according to Gibson.
The smaller, rectangular Ballcourt Mound (L) in the southwest is 300 feet on a side, and 9 feet high. It may have been the foundation for large wooden structures. (The Archaeologist at Poverty Point is now calling this Mound E.) In the south is the Lower Jackson Mound (J), which is thought to be older than the big mounds, because objects found, including loess blocks and Evans Points. It is located outside park property.
Small Sarah’s Mound (Fig.3,top) was a flat-topped rectangular platform, believed to have been built 1,000 years after the decline of the Poverty Point Culture. It is named for Sarah, one of the owners of Poverty Point Plantation, who is buried on the mound. Its long axis pointed toward magnetic north (almost 8° east of true north), not “Poverty Point north”. Since it was built so late, it is omitted from Fig. 6, which shows the site at its earlier time of use. (The Site Archeologist is now calling this “Mound D”.)
Population / Food
Poverty Point was an unusual thing: a pre-historic, pre-agricultural manufacturing town, made possible by the immense biological richness of the area. Habitation areas have been identified around the site, especially on the north side, covering more than a square mile, though Gibson states “only a handful have received more than passing attention”. Sixty encampments encircling the core complex are known. No descendants can be traced to any historic tribe or group, despite estimates that many thousands of people were living here, who did not depend upon agriculture, over a thousand year period. Fruits, acorns, pecans, and other nuts were important in the diet, but the superabundant food, available all year long, was fish. Gibson writes “in the 500 square mile swamp around the Poverty Point encampments, there were between 30,000 and 1,000,000 pounds of fish per square mile!” Gibson thinks it was a hunter-gatherer town, a place of residence, a trading center. This puts Poverty Point outside the classical “Late Archaic” archaeological model of hunter-gatherer life. Ford and Webb conclude that “the ruling class probably were invaders from the north, early Hopewellian people” (Ref.49).
Artifacts / Excavations
The old ground beneath the rings was “midden veneered”, according to both Ford and Gibson, showing that people were already living or working on the ground before building started. Little pottery has been found, but numerous steatite stone bowls have been found. The steatite had to come from Michigan or the Piedmont Area. These stone bowls are ½”+ thick, and not practical to cook in over a fire, so cooking was done by dropping hot clay balls into the soup. Bi-conical cooking-ball fragments (called “Poverty Point Objects”, or PPO’s) “dominated the trash in the rings”. Ford calculated that “associated with small fireplaces scattered throughout the soil, were a minimum of 2200 tons, or 24,000,000 PPOs” (Ref.49). Among the engraved ones, “bird representations were most prevalent”, including the horned owl, hungry nestling, songbirds, and crow figures. Turtles, opossum, and panther also occurred, along with strange glyphs, and unique motifs. The trash also included whole and broken, and incomplete, resharpened, and recycled tools, manufacturing debris, fire-cracked rock, caches of projectile points, baked human figurines, plummets, copper beads, a copper bead-maker’s kit (copper nuggets hammered into thin sheets, for winding around the copper wire), ornaments, both finished and unfinished, and most of all, exchange rock. In fact, Gibson estimates that “over 71 tons of foreign flint occurrs on the site, an astonishing amount…Millions of items were left on the ground before the rings were built; they were left in the rings while under construction and during breaks in construction; and they were left atop the rings after construction was finished.” The Ford report discusses 33 types of Archaic arrowheads over 20 pages, noting that there were thousands in various collections”. Most of the plummets were hematite, 1/3 magnetite, one of copper. Ford says that “when the large number of plummets that have been gathered and sold to collectors over the last 50 years is considered, it is apparent that [hematite] was brougt here by boat loads”. Gibson says it is estimated that there remain 75-100 tons of exotic rock at the site, and there are hundreds of thousands of “perfectly good tools”. He states: “expect the unusual, and it is likely to show up… If I had to sum up Poverty Point’s gear and appliances in a single word, it would be abundant. If I could use two words, I would say abundant and rich.”
Gibson reports that hundreds of post-molds and firepits were scattered across the rings. In excavating hearths and pits, some were found that “raised questions that can not be answered at present … one burned area was 4’ across … seven superimposed hearths were dug on successive building layers, in the third upper western ring segment. Each was about 3’ in diameter. … An excavation on the first NW ring revealed an average of one pit for every compact-car sized area.”(Ref.1). The rings had caches and deposits of objects. Perforators used to drill stone were concentrated in just the 3rd southwestern ring, and the fifth southern ring, yet the cores from which the perforators were made were primarily found on the other segments. Thus, the distribution of tools is very uneven, revealing divisions of labor, and manufacturing specialization. For example, Gibson writes “no tools described as ‘women’s culinary’ were found in the western three ring groups, but were 10-20% of the finds nearer the Bayou. The west and Northwest ring sets were very low in all finds…over half of the little specialized drills were surface-collected from just two segments” (Ref.1).
Routes for the extraction of Michigan’s copper have been traced downstream from Isle Royale and the Keweenaw Peninsula (Fig.2). These routes run past storage pits with corroded copper in them, past Beaver Island, with its ancient raised garden beds and huge 39-stone circle. In the Great Lakes, water levels fluctuated widely, as ice dams retreated, and the land rebounded from the glacial weight. At 2300 BC there was a high water stage, called the “Nipissing Stage” (Refs.19,21,39). Dr. Jim Schertz, Professor Emeritus with the Ancient Earthworks Society, says that when the water rose 40 feet above present levels, an outlet opened into the Illinois River, through the present chicago Ship Canal. On the south bank, where the river started, stood a 3,000 pound stone block, overlooking Lake Michigan. Known as the Waubansee Stone (top, Fig.2), now in the hall of the Chicago Historical Society. It is carved with the face of a man with a beard and holes connecting the bowl at the top to the mouth of the face. It appears to be the face of Moloch on a Phoenician Tophet, where sacrifices were made prior to the perilous voyage, loaded with copper, down the rivers to Poverty Point (Ref.40). Ships then entered the Chicago River, and then ran down the Illinois River, to the Mississippi, or from Green Bay, down the Wisconsin and the Mississippi to Poverty Point. Some copper went east, down the Ottawa River, and the Trent/Severn Waterway to the St. Lawrence River, and some went further south, and down the Chaudiere River from Quebec to Lake Megantic, then down the Kennebec river to the Maine coast (Ref.3). Nevertheless, most of the half billion tons of missing copper (Ref.10) must have gone down the Mississippi.
Jean Hunt, then President of the Louisiana Mounds Society, wrote in 1993 in Ancient American Magazine that “the Poverty Point archaeologist or curator talked about traces of large “spots” of copper on the surface, which he thought might have represented places where raw copper from the Michigan mines was placed while awaiting trans-shipment” (Ref.37). Metals would not be a normal surface finding. Daniel Wood also stated in Ancient American that “as many as 20 copper storage pits have been located at Poverty Point, measuring 15-20 feet in diameter (Ref.38). There was no visual evidence of these pits when I was there in 1996, but it appears they may show in the magnetic gradiometry (Fig.7). Wood describes a 20 x 50 foot Torch Lake (Keweenaw) pit that was found to contain 20 tons of carbonate of copper, that was dated c.1800 BC (also Ref.10), and other pits as far east as Sault Ste Marie, and others in southern Wisconsin.
The big unanswered question at this point is where the raw copper was heated on wood fires and poured into oxhide molds. No site has ever been identified. We know it was done with multiple pours, with enough moisture present to create voids in the oxhides, creating “blister copper” (see article on Michigan Copper in this book). Poverty Point is well forested land, and very humid, being on the Gulf Coast. The melting of the rough copper from the mines into standardized 60 pound one-Talent Oxhides would have required very hot fires. Multiple pourings into the clay moulds in the humidity of the Gulf Coast would have made the workers sweat profusely. Perhaps the sweat and humidity alone, or maybe wet “fresh” wood might have been enough to cause the gas voids that characterize the fragile “blister copper” oxhides. The carrying handles and flat shape of standardized oxhides would have been very helpful for shipping, carrying and selling the copper. With 99.7% of Poverty Point unexcavated, it may be this was the most important activity at Poverty Point, and clay or dirt molds should be watched for in future excavations.
Early in 2006, a magnetic gradiometry study done by Mike Hargrave and Burley Clay (Fig.7) shows large dark spots that were described as metal “hits”, or “something in the dirt that makes it magnetically different”. The State Site Arhaeologist, Dianna Greenlee says that by the end of May 2009 they have surveyed the entire plaza and the first two rings. She reports that the dark spots were tested with “pulled cores”, which showed dark midden material/hearths. They are especially interested in the circle patterns (see center of Fig.7). They have found many more of them, especially in the south Plaza, with larger circles in the east, smaller in the west. They are 50cm to 1 meter deep, in “good soil, so they are definately prehistoric”. A Joint Field School excavation was scheduled for June 3 to July 2, 2009, with 3 staff, and 23 students from the University of Louisiana, and Mississippi State University. The students dug 1 x 2 meter holes over four of the circle patterns. Greenlee reported that the circles were found to be circles of filled postholes, where the posts were supported by PPO’s crammed next to them, producing the vertical stacks of PPO’s found by the students. In Europe, where stone is available, posts were similarly surrounded by “setting stones”, and these rings of stones reveal old post locations. Greenlee thought that more excavations will be helpful in determining whether the post circles were roofed, but thinks some were too large to roof. One radiocarbon date has come back at 1440-1280 BC. No copper objects or hearths were noticed by the students in these four locations in June/July 2009.
The Poverty Point Visitor Center exhibits include a steatite (soapstone) stone pot, and a few clay pots. Ford recovered “almost 3000 steatite vessel fragments, but only 32 potsherds”. He reports that one steatite bowl hit by a plow in 1925 was stated to weigh 16 pounds … It is possible that the use of clay for pottery was known to them only in the form of finished vessels” (Ref.63). Greenlee says that most of the pottery found at the site has been thick and untempered, “from late occupations”, as though they were just learning to make it. By phone (7/22/09), she reported that “none of it is on display”. However, she said that the university students doing last month’s dig, found a little pottery that is thin, and “looks different”. She said she plans to ask some pottery experts about it. Figure 8 shows a thin pot that is on exhibit in the Visitor Center, the dark one on the upper left. It has a pattern like the English Beaker Pot below it. The upper right pot is modern, a replica patterned on pot shards unearthed at Poverty Point. The two English Beaker Pots below it have considerable resemblance. Analysis should be done on the clay of the Poverty Point pot to acertain where it was made. The “thin” pots may have been introduced into this Archaic date community as shipping containers.
The shape of the upper pot in Figure 9 is Caddoan, typical of pots of 700 to 1200 AD, a culture in the Red River Valley, west of Poverty Point. Archaeologist Greenlee says it is on exhibit in the Poverty Point Museum to illustrate the later Caddoan Culture. The pot below it, which shares a similar design, and shares the same 1500 BC date as Poverty Point, is Minoan, located in the Iraklion Museum in Crete. Why does the Caddoan pot made 2000 years later, show a Minoan design? Surprisingly, other Caddoan pots are engraved with megalithic-style concentric circles, “lozenge” (diamond) patterns, and sun symbols (Ref.45). It appears that early Woodland pottery in the Red River Valley continued patterns introduced on overseas pots.
The creation story of the Caddo people starts: “In the beginning darkness rules. Man comes, and soon there is a village with thousands of people. Man disappears; returns with seeds. He says the sun is coming and will be given power… the Caddo had conical grass lodges up to 60 feet in diameter, were fond of tatooing, and had a calendrical sequence of ceremonies and had temples with a central fire, from which the domestic fires were obtained”(Ref.48). All these cultural features are in keeping with cultural traditions probably obtained from Poverty Point and its visitors.
Figure 10 shows the Claiborne and Cedarland Rings, contemporary with Poverty Point, which Gibson calls the “oddest Poverty Point community of all”. These mound-rings, in their tools and styles, resembled Poverty Point. They sat on the first high ground rising above the marsh at the Gulf entrance to the Mississippi River, along its Pearl River branch. He states that “since radiocarbon dates have shown these two rings were occupied at the same time, but the artifacts in them were so distinctly different, it was concluded that they were inhabited by two independent, ethnically separate groups, who lived side by side”.
The paper of Bruseth, an archaeologist with the Texas Historical Commission, is most interesting: “Cedarland, located in 1957, mapped in 1970, has been extensively damaged by indiscriminate digging by relic seekers and by construction activities related to development of a port and harbor facility. The site was occupied for several centuries prior to 2000 BC, at the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. During the 3rd millenium BC the Mississippi would have been in relatively close proximity, and it is probable that the site was the highest ground (5m) near the mouth of the river… The ring is a large oyster shell and earth midden overlooking the mouth of the Pearl River…This site seems to have formed by accretion, without planning or site layout… No burials have been found” (Ref.24).
Field inspections by Bruseth during bulldozing revealed debris consisting of bone, stone, and clay artifacts… He says “numerous clay-lined, basin-shaped hearths have been uncovered, but few have been carefully excavated … Raw materials at the site include red jasper, black and white and grey chert, quartz crystal, various quartzites, and Great Lakes copper needles and sheet copper. The lithic materials are rare at Claiborne. Cedarland has 3 and 4 sided drills, while Claiborne posesses only bifacially-formed drills…[beautiful 3-sided points are a feature of the Danish neolithic at this time]. One to 2 meters of deposits indicate intensive utilization,…and re-use of hearths, but few have been carefully excavated (Ref.24).
Bruseth continues: “The hearths varied in diameter from 50 to 65 cm [20-26 inches, the size of oxhide ingots], were basin shaped, and occurred on a common horizontal plane. The walls consisted of oxidized orange soil. However, the tops were found at variable depths below the surface. This factor is interpreted to be the result of digging in and around the hearths after their initial use. As neither ash nor charcoal was observed within the features, they may instead have served as earth ovens rather than hearths. Under this interpretation, the oxidised soil of the features would represent prepared clay walls that became fired from heating in the oven. Numerous amorphous fired clay lumps surround the hearths and are commonly found throughout much of the midden. The author has examined several examples for evidence of deliberate shape, but in all instances they were found to be amorphous and unintentionally formed. It was initially thought that these might be baked clay objects used in conjunction with the clay-lined hearths. However, it is probable, based on their small size and lack of clear form, that they are fragments from other clay-lined hearths. Extensive digging and reuse of the hearths evidently scattered burned clay wall fragments throughout the midden” (Ref.24).
Radiocarbon dates for Claiborne, discovered in 1967, range from 2040 BC to 1150 BC. Bruseth says “Claiborne appears to have been a well-structured village throughout much of its history. A conical mound is directly east of the site [as shown in the lower illustration of Fig.10]. No clay-lined hearths have been found, but a huge hearth 25m x 3-5m wide was opened by successive bulldozer cuts, a feature which apparently moved upslope by accumulation from use. Smaller hearths of 4m, and 2m x 1.5m were also found. Claiborne plummets are made of magnetite and hematite, while plummets at Cedarland are only made of other materials. Bruseth describes other materials revealed that the “inhabitants of both rings were involved in long-distance exchange, but did so differently, despite being side-by-side. Of special note are the effigy forms, such as locusts, owls, and bivalves, which are not found at Cedarland. There are ceramics… fiber tempered pottery, but none at Cedarland. The two sites are distinctive in layout, feature type, and artifact content, and present a perplexing problem. …Other sites are known, which most likely represent support camps, to these ‘specialized activity areas’. These sites flourished well before the earthwork construction at Poverty Point….Perhaps the monumental earthworks [at Poverty Point] have caused us to underestimate the importance of pre-earthwork occupation.” Bruseth concludes the report of his excavation by writing that “the two sites were inhabited by two independent groups who lived side by side” (Ref.24).
Sailors will understand that small sailboats of 30-50 feet, now circling the globe by the multitude, or small ships in prehistory of 70-200 feet, would be heading for a “port”. They would not be likely to attempt to sail directly up the huge, muddy, and treacherous Mississippi when in its fast flood stage, but would seek a nearby landing spot, where they could drink fresh water, bathe, and secure and repair their vessels for awhile. Along the shallow beaches of the Gulf Coast, the Pearl River mouth provided the needed deep water entrance. Two separate ports developed. We know there were several different cultures involved in the copper trade. Gibson states that “like any busy place, especially where traders and visitors from strange lands congregated, Poverty Point was exposed to many foreign influences … many of Poverty Point’s basic raw materials came from lands inhabited by strangers”. We know the Egyptians and Minoans were involved in copper trading, because paintings of them are on Egyptian tomb walls, carrying copper oxhide ingots. Bruseth says Barry Fell has reported that the language of the Atakapas, the Tunicas, and the Chitimacha tribes of Louisiana had striking similarities with Nile Valley languages involving words one would associate with Egyptian trading communities. Quoting the archaeologist Bruseth again: “Extensive surveys of sites along the Pearl River with similar projectile point types, appear occupied by different groups. We know that trade was crossing ethnic boundaries and probably crossing language boundaries. These are certainly groups of people that operate mostly unto themselves most of the time. There are strangers involved” (Ref.24).
Claiborne, with its conical mound, like those in the Canaries, may well have been an outstation of the Atlantean culture. Early written history, Plato principally, tells about the Atlantean culture, which grew rich on trading in “orichalcum”, a pure copper, across the Atlantic Ocean, which is named for them. Their principal city of Atlantis was designed with circular rings. The population of Poverty Point is thought to have increased increased greatly after 1200 BC, a date when a comet impact caused all the cities in the Mediterranean to be destroyed in earthquakes and fire, and submerged the Atlantean city, after the eruption of Mt. Atlas (Ref.14). Despite the flood of refugees to the west, the comet disaster ended the Michigan mining, the Atlantic trade, the mound building at Poverty Point, and the European Bronze Age, all at the same time.
Climatologists call the following cold (2° fall) and wet period (1250-1000 BC) the “Plenard Period”. So many sites are now underwater, we have lost grasp of how big the trade in copper was in prehistory. The underwater breakwater of Bimini in the Bahamas is well known. (Bimini = Ba [soul] min [Egyptian god of travelers] mini [homage]= “homage to the soul of Min”(Ref.44). Less well known are the enormous walls of 8m x 6m blocks at a depth of 14m that run for several miles on the coast of Morocco, and the old megalithic coastal cities of Lixus and Mogador (Ref.37).
Archaeologist Bruseth’s midden cross-sections of the Claiborne site appear to provide evidence for copper oxhide manufacture. Fig.10, upper right, shows a hearth as long as a football field: 6’ deep, 300’ long, in a midden twice as long. “Numerous amorphous fired clay lumps surround the hearths, and are commonly found …A typical cluster of 86 clay objects… The author has examined several examples for evidence of deliberate shape, but in all instances they were found to be amorphous and unintentionally formed …A radiocarbon date of 1425 +/- 140 BC … the stratum seems to represent an activity area where perforated varieties of baked clay objects were being fired. This interpretation is based on the nearly total absence of complete baked objects, and the abundance of charcoal concentrations… Artifact types in the stratum are almost exclusively fragmented baked clay objects… The broken clay objects are interpreted to represent specimens that fragmented during the firing process” (Ref.24). The clay fragments were probably hammered off the copper oxhides when they cooled. Bruseth notes that “the predominant artifact categories included lithic debris and cobbles wth battered ends” (Ref.24). So it appears stone hammers were used to break off the molds.
Burrows Cave Maps
Several mapstones (Figs.11,12) from Burrow’s Cave (Ref.41) show two story buildings that seem to be at the Poverty Point site. No other site is known that may have had two-story buildings. These mudstones are believed to have been carved in the first century AD, so more than 1200 years after the comet disaster and the end of the copper mining, and even 700 years after the end of the life of the site, according to the archaeologists. Apparently there was a long continued use of the site, since two-story wooden buildings require a lot of maintenance. We see no remains today, other than unexplained postholes, because the buildings were not built of stone. Note that the site could no longer be seen from the river (which had moved), as it is accessed by a trail from the junction of the Arkansas River in Figure 11. Note a 2-story building placed on the wrong side of the river, and without a trail, in Figure 12. Mistakes happen, when you sail by, and only hear of a place, without seeing it. Figure 13 shows a ship, with some turbaned sailors in it, and Figure 14 shows they carried Old World mythological beliefs with them. Figure 15 shows a figure unique among the stones, perhaps a contemporary religious figure, which may help with the dating of the maps.
Time is a hard concept to comprehend, given that the United States has been a nation for only 230 years. We forget that it was a colony for 156 years before that (1620 to 1776). Between the founding of Poverty Point (2400 BC) and Columbus (1492 AD) is a period of almost 4000 years, and Poverty Point at its height (1500 BC) was 3000 years earlier than Columbus! Understanding these time spans, and what might have been acomplished in them, is one of the major stumbling blocks to our understanding of prehistory.
America on the Atlantic side was discovered from Europe by the Megalithic peoples c.2500 BC (Ref.3). By “discovered” we do not mean the first sailors who were blown across the sea, unable to return, and might have been “culture bearers” and disease and parasite carriers. The Mayan calendar starts on August 11th, 3114 BC. By “discovery” we mean the period when people first understood the tradewind and current patterns, so that roundtrips were accomplished. Peru’s Pyramid of the Sun and Egypt’s Great Pyramid were both built at c.2500 BC, and both with the same base dimension of 758 feet, which was the dimension given by Plato for the Citadel at the center of Atlantis (Ref.14). It is interesting that the earliest Archaic mounds, at Watson Brake, on the Ouachita River, 6 miles west of Poverty Point, on private property near Monroe, have been dated within 200 years of 3,180 BC (Ref.17). Watson Brake consists of a large circular ring, 853 feet across, with one large mound to 25’, and “9 or 10” smaller ones over 3’ raised atop the ring. Native myths suggest that the mounds were an earthen model of the Earth, and contained elements of ancient creation stories. So earthworks in the Mississippi Valley developed very early, perhaps from the influence of early visitors (Ref.17).
The Michigan copper mining by “red haired white-skinned ‘marine men’ who came from across the sea” (American Indian myth) soon followed the 2500 BC discovery (Ref.10). From wood timbers preserved anaerobically under water in ancient mine pits, the mining has been radiocarbon dated to 2400 BC to 1200 BC, a period of more than a thousand years. One of the more interesting finds in digging out one of these old mine holes, was a Walrus skin bag (Ref.10), showing the miners had been traveling on salt water in the north. Extensive study of the Ontario Serpent Mound site, on Rice Lake, Petersborough Co. Ontario, another copper shipment route, reported on 33 skulls intact enough for racial identification: 8 Negro, 2 White, and 23 Indian (Ref.25). Carbon dating of one of the graves gave AD 128, a later Viking-Age date.
The Olmec civilization of Mexico is recognized at 2000 BC, with the Jaguar cult forming there, and major construction at 1500 BC, simultaneously with Poverty Point development. Some researchers think Poverty Point has resemblance to the layout of La Venta and Caral. The Olmec built up over a longer time, with the start of San Lorenzo dated at 1200 BC again coincident with the diaspora from Atlantis. While the first known Egyptian voyages to Punt were launched by Pharaoh Neferkare, in the 5th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (c.2500 BC) (Ref.12) into the “inverted waters” (Southern hemisphere). It is the ships sent on their 3 year voyage to Punt by Pharoah Hatshepsut early in the New Kingdom (1473-1458 BC) that are so well documented, by being carved in her temple. So her voyages were coincident with the prime development of Poverty Point.
This is also considered the time of the development of the Minoan Palace complex of Knossos, which is thought to have had a huge fleet controlling the copper trading of the Bronze Age in the Mediterranean., with most of the early ports of Crete now under water. The Uluburun Shipwreck, which contained 354 copperoxhide ingots (c.10 tons), and 40 tin ingots off the Turkish coast was dated by dendrochronology to 1316-1305 BC (Ref.21), simultaneous with the peak of moundbuilding at Poverty Point.
The Atlanteans were famous for growing wealthy on the trading in copper. Plato reports the temple of Atlantis walls and flooring were made of oricalcum (copper), and the exterior was covered with silver and gold. The innermost circle wall was coated with tin, and the acropolis itself was coated with oricalcum. For the destruction of Atlantis, Plato says he was given a date of “9,000 years ago” by the priests of Sais in Egypt. When we put this date into lunar months, the early Egyptian time system, (divide 9000 months by 12 mos/yr= 750 yrs BC, add 536 BC for Plato’s time, = 1286 BC), we get a number close to the cataclysmic events of the 50 year period of 1200 BC. Plato also said the Atlantis destruction was close to the founding of Athens, which is thought to be around 1400 BC.
Ramses III first repulsed the Sea Peoples (Atlanteans and their allies) in 1220 BC, and then again in 1186 and 1070, as documented in his victory temple.. The destruction of Atlantis in 1198 BC led to an abrupt cessation of the mining (perhaps the sky went dark everywhere at once), and is thought to have led to a second diaspora to Poverty Point. Unfortunately so much was lost during the catastrophic events of 1200 BC, when the cities were burned, populations collapsed, the leaders and inteligentsia died, that civilization suffered an enormous setback, and entered a “dark” period. This allowed the Celts to flood unchallenged over Western Europe with chariots, and iron techology, themselves driven west from the forests of Germany, known to have been consumed by fire in the cataclysm. This ushered in a new culture, which developed a large ocean-going fleet, and colonies with hundreds of stone chambers built in New England. The 1200 BC catastrophe caused the ending of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, ushering in the Hyksos takeover, and the Second Intermediate Period. With the collapse of the Atlantean empire, the Phoenicians expanded westward, and founded Carthage in 814 BC.
The Phoenicians learned the routes of the Atlanteans, and succeeded them, still keeping their routes secret, to protect the rich trade sources. Following their conquest of Spain in 530 BC, they eradicated the ancient city of Tartessus so thoroughly that excavators have been unable to locate the city. Tarshish vanished, and with it all the lore of the Great Western Sea, which Tartessians had sailed for a thousand years. Demons, erie darkness, mudflats, immense fields of seaweed from which no ship could free itself, horrible monsters and a ghastly death awaited the seafarer beyond Gibraltar was all the Phoenicians allowed to be glimpsed. They were believed, so the competition was finally eliminated. It is known that a Phoenician (Carthaginian) skipper who discovered he was being followed by a Roman vessel, scuttled his ship, to avoid disclosing his route, and was rewarded at home with a rich new vessel. It was Carthaginian policy to throw overboard the crew from any captured ship. The Punic Wars, and complete destruction of Carthage by the Romans, combined with Caesar’s defeat of the becalmed Veneti (Celtic) Ocean fleet off the Gulf of Morbihan (Brittany), extingushed the overseas trade routes to the Carribbean, only to be later re-discovered by Columbus.
The Five Nation’s (Iroquois) account of their wars with the copper-trading giants concludes that they “ceased to exist”. Legends of the Menomini and Hochunk also tell of combat, and killing them (c.600 BC) (Ref.51). Actually, it appears the remnants of the copper miners and traders moved west and south to Ohio, their culture no longer called the “Old Copper Culture”, but renamed the “Adena”. Grondine continues that “at about the time of the Celtic emigrations in Europe, say about 200 BC or so, a massive revolt took place through most of the area that the descendants of the copper traders controlled. Single-circle astronomically oriented earthen structures were replaced by rings paired with square enclosures. ‘Hopewell’ has been adopted to describe these societies” (Ref.51).
Although big stones are totally lacking, the Poverty Point site should be considered as part of the wordwide Megalithic Culture in the Bronze Age because of its circular design, conical pyramids, latitude encodings, multiculturalism, and the pottery found at the site. Poverty Point on the Mississippi is contemporary with other Bronze Age population centers in hot climates with big rivers that flooded each year, such as the Olmec, and the Egyptians. It has “ports” on the Gulf, where middens show it is likely that the copper oxhides were made, which fueled the Bronze Age in Europe
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Brand New copy published in 2010, this extremely important work by Wakefield & De Jonge is a continuation of their research since publishing How The Sun Gods Reached America in 2002. This incredible book is entirely filled with very high quality color photos from sites and artifacts around the world supporting transatlantic contact during the Bronze Age. It will not disappoint. Please visit http://www.rocksandrows.com/ for more information.
Extremely important work by de Jonge & Wakefield. Brand New condition, published in 2002. Their quests, decipherments and adventures are fascinating and a must have resource showing a plethora of hidden evidence, still visible on both sides of the sea to support ancient Oceanic travels. Please visit http://www.howthesungod.com/ for more info.