In the center of the site is a
large C-shaped figure formed by six artificial earthen mounds. Today they are four to six feet high and 140
to 200 feet apart. These were first
believed to form an octagonal enclosure and the Arkansas River eroded one side
of it, but current information suggests that the area was eroded before they
built these earthen mounds. These
ridges are further divided by five aisles turning it into six unequal sections. It is believed that these aisles were used
for astronomical sighting lines as well as boundaries between social and
functional zones of the site. In the
center of the six ridges is a large flat plaza of approximately 37 acres. There is a mound on the eastern side made of
two levels on which wooden buildings were erected. On the other side of the plaza were two extremely large, deep
pits. It is believed that these holes
held huge poles for the marking of important calendar days.
site that is very representative of the Poverty Point culture is the Jaketown
site from the Yazoo Basin, Mississippi.
The Jaketown site is over 200 acres and located on the bank of Wasp
River in Humphreys County, Mississippi.
At the site are six large mounds although four of them have been damaged
by highway construction in the area.
These mounds are thought to be of Poverty Point origin even though they
are barely visible today. Although
other cultures may have occupied this site at different times, the Poverty
Point culture had the longest and most extensive occupation of the site. The surface collection of materials and the
depth of deposits found there suggest this.
When this site was first discovered, human bone, shell, and pottery were
found on the surface around the six mounds.
Later, in 1946, archeologists returned to the site and determined that
the surface collections indicated occupation of the site by ceramic-producing
cultures. Further investigations of the
site using augers to go underground confirmed this idea of a ceramic history of
the site. There were two cuts made into
the earth for excavation. In the first
cut there were many Poverty Point artifacts located in the lowest excavated
level and in the second cut there was a domination of Poverty Point objects
suggesting the lengthy occupation of Poverty Point cultures. In 1950 the state of Mississippi decided to
relocate a highway into the area and thus damaged some of the mounds being
excavated. Just before this occurred
however, archeologists were able to excavate some of the smaller mounds and
found an abundance of microliths with no sign of any Poverty Point
artifacts. The conclusion was that this
was a result of different activities in the area since plenty of Poverty Point
objects were found at many other areas of the site where no microliths were