Poverty Point National Monument | MOUND A

Mound A at Poverty Point National Monument

Mound A at Poverty Point National Monument

WALKING TOUR STOPS 10 AND 11

DRIVING TOUR STOP 3

Mound A

The next two stops on the walking tour of Poverty Point National Monument are at Mound A (Stop 3 on the driving tour), the largest mound in the park. In fact, at the time it was built around 1350 BC, it was the largest mound in the entire United States and remained so for another 2,000 years until the construction of Monks Mound at Cahokia in Collinsville, Illinois. It is still the second largest mound in the country.

Stop 10 is at the base of Mound A, and you can walk to Stop 11 at the top of the mound for a great view of the area. If you are taking the walking tour, you will have traveled 1.1 miles at this point.

Stairs lead to the top of Poverty Point National Monument's Mound A

Stairs lead to the top of Poverty Point National Monument’s Mound A

View from the top of Mound A at Poverty Point National Monument

View from the top of Mound A at Poverty Point National Monument

View from the top of Mound A at Poverty Point National Monument

View from the top of Mound A at Poverty Point National Monument

Mound A is outside of the Poverty Point ridge system, so when you walk to it from Mound E, the tall grass you see is not ridges but grass that just hasn’t been mowed. The mowed grass is the walking path.

Path from Mound E to Mound A at Poverty Point National Monument

Path from Mound E to Mound A at Poverty Point National Monument

Mound A is 72 feet tall and has a base that measures 705 feet east to west and 660 feet north to south. It was created by the Poverty Point people digging dirt at one location and transporting it by foot to the Mound A location in baskets, one basketful at a time. It took an estimated 15.5 million baskets of soil to complete the job. The mound was built in three stages, and based on excavations and soil core samples, some archaeologists believe the work might have been done in as little as 90 days. This was the last mound built by the Indians who occupied the site from roughly 1650 BC to 1100 BC.

What you can’t see from the ground, or even from the top of the mound, is that Mound A is in the shape of a flying bird. However, archaeologists don’t know if this was intentional or just a coincidence…or just a figment of archaeologist James Fords’ mind, for he is the one who first noticed the similarity back in the 1950s.

Archaeologists do not know what Mound A was used for because almost no artifacts were found on or within it during various excavations. If there were structures on it at one time, the inhabitants did a good job of removing everything when the mound was no longer needed or the people abandoned the area. The only artifacts that were found were a spear point, two hammerstones, and part of a tool thought to be a celt (stone tool similar to an axe). Based on typical use of a mound that is not for burial purposes, Mound A may have been an elevated platform for the chief’s house or a large ceremonial building. Or perhaps it was simply built as an offering to the gods. My theory is that it might have been used for defensive purposes, particularly since the few artifacts that were found are associated with the killing animals or other humans.

If you take a look at the Poverty Point ridge system, both the north and south ends are anchored on the Bayou Maçon (which was possibly a lake during the Poverty Point occupation). That is a typical defensive configuration. With the left and right flanks of the village protected by the water, from the ground, no enemy could slip around the flanks and attack from the rear. The only way to attack the village from the rear would be by water, which would be hard to do given the technology of the time.

With the flanks secured, another typical defensive strategy is to build redoubts (small forts) in the outlying areas of the main compound. Mound A is outside of the ridge system where most people lived, so perhaps it was used as an observation deck / fort by those in charge of security. Poverty Point sentries could see quite far and would know if anyone was sneaking up on the settlement. If the village did come under attack, Mound A was large enough for the people to retreat to. Being so high above the ground, the enemy would have a difficult time capturing it. The Politically Correct point of view has us believing that Indians all lived in harmony with nature, but it truth, they were killing each other all the time in wars. But what do I know?

Poverty Point Walking Tour Map (click to enlarge)

Poverty Point Walking Tour Map (click to enlarge)


Walking Tour Menu

Stop 12: Borrow Pit | Stop 9: Mound E | Walking Tour Main Page

Driving Tour Menu

Stop 4: Borrow Area | Stop 2: Mound E | Driving Tour Main Page


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Last updated on November 8, 2022
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