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History: Celebrating Louisiana Archaeology Month

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O­ctober is Louisiana Archaeology Month. The theme of Archaeology Month 2014 is “Poverty Point World Heritage Site.”

Louisiana received a great international honor when Poverty Point National Monument and State Park in northeastern Louisiana was designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site on June 22, 2014. The list of World Heritage sites highlights the world’s most important natural wonders and cultural sites, including Machu Picchu (Peru), the Pyramids of Giza (Egypt), Stonehenge (United Kingdom) and the Taj Mahal (India).

PamCarlisleThe earthworks of the 3,400-year-old Poverty Point Site are massive: six mounds and six C-shaped ridges surround a huge plaza. The geometric design is unique in the world and is a masterpiece of engineering. At the time the earthworks were constructed they were the largest in North America and comprised the continent’s major political, trading and ceremonial center of its day.  It would be well-worth a trip to visit Poverty Point. Louisiana State Parks runs a visitor center with exhibits and maintains trails (as well as visitor trams) to the mounds.

Native American earthen mounds are not just a Northeastern Louisiana phenomenon. To learn about local mounds, you won’t want to miss the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center’s Louisiana Archaeology Month program, “Native American Earthen Mounds in Northwest Louisiana” presented by Jeff Girard, Regional Archaeologist. It will be held Thursday, October 16th at 6 p.m. in the Historical Center, 2206 Beckett St. Bossier City, adjacent to Bossier Central Library.

The Caddos and their predecessors in northwest Louisiana were among the Native Americans of the Southeastern United States that often are referred to as “moundbuilders.”  Why did the Indians build mounds?  Where did they build them?  How did they build them?  How do we know if a mound was built by Indians or is just a natural hill?  This program shows how archaeologists have looked at these questions and what they have learned. Only trained archaeologists can properly record a site’s cultural and scientific information for posterity.

We also wanted to commemorate Archaeology Month for our young library patrons as well. In the Bossier Parish Central Library Kid Zone a drop-in ‘Archaeology Station’ will be set up between 3-4 p.m. Wednesday October 8 and again between 3-4 p.m. Thursday October 23. Children will get to see and feel the amazing pottery designs of the Caddo Indians and make their own pottery craft.  Archaeology books will be on display and available for checkout along with coloring books for children to take home.

In the Bossier Central Library Kid Zone at 4 p.m. Thursday, October 9, a “Read Aloud” program especially for Louisiana Archaeology Month will feature stories of clues in the ground.

All events are free and open to the public. The Bossier Parish Central Library and Historical Center are located at 2206 Beckett St., Bossier City. Call Pam Carlisle at 318-746-7717 for more information.  And as always, please come to see our exhibits that include a diorama of a Caddo Indian village and Caddo Indian artifacts from Bossier Parish. For Poverty Point information and additional Archaeology Month activities statewide, visit www.crt.state.la.us/archaeology.

Pam Carlisle is the History and Outreach Specialist for the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center