Lunch and Learn Series celebrates Archaeology Month

By Natalie Covher

Cane River National Heritage Area celebrated Archaeology Month with a Lunch and Learn Lecture Series Friday, Oct. 21 at Grand Ecore Visitors Center.

The first lecture was titled “The Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point.” Diana Greenlee, Ph.D. explained multiple theories surrounding the prehistoric site. Core samples were taken from different areas of the Native American settlement to help archaeologists learn more about the earthworks and mounds built there between 1650 and 700 BC. Another interesting way archaeologists have worked to uncover more about Poverty Point was by reading the area with a magnetic radiometer. It seems that the people of Poverty Point were not farmers and relied on hunting, fishing and gathering of wild resources. From what they can tell a group base of people continually occupied the site year round. These people may have lived atop the six concentric curving earthworks located in the center of the site. One of the most interesting and largest mounds is called the Bird Mound or Mound A and is thought to have been built in 90 days or less.
“Poverty Point is an outstanding example of a culture that has disappeared,” said Greenlee.

Guests were treated to lunch while the next speaker Jeffrey Girad got ready to share about the “Archaeological Investigations in the Riviere Aux Cannes Region.” Girad showed maps of late 18th to early 19th century settlements along Cane River. The first map showed the land split up into 10 parcels belonging to a number of people including the LeCompte family of Magnolia Plantation and a woman simply known as Margueritte, who was a freed slave of the LeCompte Family. He explained most of the 10 owners used their land for tobacco and subsistence farming. The next map showed how the land was divided after 1830 and the coming of cotton. In this map there were only three owners: the Herzog family of the Ferry Plantation with a nice sized parcel, the LeCompte family had acquired most of the land for Magnolia Plantation and the small parcel owned by Margueritte’s daughter Marie Adelaide. Research of the area led to the discovery of some of the oldest oak trees in Louisiana. They decided to do some small excavation areas near the trees. The excavations proved fruitful and they found many artifacts. Girad continued to explain his research of the area while comparing and contrasting the different types of settlements during that time period and the people who lived there.