Before Stonehenge, before the pyramid of Cheops, before Chichen Itza, North American natives built mounds in Louisiana.
A thriving native culture built North America’s first city at what is known as Poverty Point World Heritage Site on the banks of Bayou Macon in West Carroll Parish, northeastern Louisiana. Along the Mississippi flood plain lays a complex of pyramid-shaped mounds and concentric ridges from a pre-agricultural society, designated a World Heritage Site in 2014.
Massive mounds were first built by native people 4000 years ago. 15,000 prehistoric and historic archaeological sites have been found across Louisiana. At Poverty Point, an estimated 53 million cubic feet was carried to construct this 400 acres-site dated between 1700 and 1100 B.C. Materials transported over great distances from the Eastern US, like stone tools originating in the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains and in the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and soapstone for vessels from Northern Alabama and Georgia, suggest a vast trade network and complex society. Multiple mounds and C-shaped ridges are unlike any other known site of it’s kind, and is the largest “earthworks” in the Western Hemisphere.
The ancient hunter-gatherer society that flourished here did not grow crops or raise animals for food. It was a trade centre, the largest and most sophisticated of its time. If you’ve never heard of it, you will, as it is becoming a hot destination to discover in Louisiana.
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.