Cover image for The ancient mounds of Poverty Point : place of rings
The ancient mounds of Poverty Point : place of rings
Gibson, Jon L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Gainesville : University Press of Florida, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 280 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E99.P84 G5 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"Gibson, the grand old man of Poverty Point archaeology, has presented his personal reflections on his and others' extensive work at this mysterious and awe-inspiring site. He recounts (in his equally mysterious Louisiana voice) the setting, meaning, and history of archaeological thought that surround the site."--Mike Russo, National Park Service

Jon Gibson confronts the intriguing mystery of Poverty Point, the ruins of a large prehistoric Indian settlement that was home to one of the most fascinating ancient cultures in eastern North America.

The 3,500-year-old site in northeastern Louisiana is known for its large, elaborate earthworks--a series of concentric, crescent-shaped dirt rings and bird-shaped mounds. With its imposing 25-mile core, it is one of the largest archaic constructions on American soil. It's also one of the most puzzling--perplexing questions haunt Poverty Point, and archaeologists still speculate about life and culture at the site, its age, how it was created, and if it was at the forefront of an emerging complex society.

Gibson's engaging, well-illustrated account of Poverty Point brings to life one of the oldest earthworks of its size in the Western Hemisphere, the hub of a massive exchange network among native American peoples reaching a third of the way across the present-day United States.

Gibson, the eminent authority on the site, boldly launches the first full-scale political, economic, and organizational analysis of Poverty Point and nearby affiliated sites. Writing in an informal style, he examines the period's architecture, construction, tools and appliances, economy, exchange, and ceremonies.

Author Notes

Jon L. Gibson is professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. He is the author of Ancient Earthworks of the Ouachita Valley in Louisiana and the editor of Exchange in the Lower Mississippi Valley and Contiguous Areas at 1100 B.C.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In North America, during what archaeologists call the Archaic Period in the Mississippi River valley, about 5000 to 6000 years ago, people began building earthen ridges and conical mounds. Some of the earliest known sites are in Louisiana, and the best known is called Poverty Point (c.1500 BCE), which consists of a series of concentric ridges with several associated earthen mounds. It is the largest example of this type of site and is the best studied. Gibson (anthropology, Univ. of Louisiana) presents an overview of North American prehistory and details the history of research at Poverty Point and similar sites. He discusses the environment at this early time and presents various hypotheses to account for these early sites. The book is written in an engaging style, free of archaeological jargon, and is extremely well illustrated. The history of research presents a short course on the development of archaeology in North America, a theme that continues throughout the text. The findings of numerous excavations are detailed, the artifacts recovered are described, and various interpretations of the meaning and significance of the site are offered. Highly recommended as the best overview of Poverty Point available to date. W. A. Longacre University of Arizona