First ancient American civilizations were skilled engineers

(ORDO NEWS) — Based on recent research, it can be assumed that the social organization of the first inhabitants of America is much more complex than previously thought.

The New World Natives, who inhabited the Poverty Point region in northeast Louisiana more than three thousand years ago, were previously thought to be hunter-gatherers.

But a study by scientists from the universities of Washington and Colorado (USA) showed that their community, apparently, was more complex.

Poverty point archaeological site

First ancient American civilizations were skilled engineers 2
This illustration shows the features of the Poverty Point Archaeological Site. You can see mounds that have been studied in the past and six ramparts that have been discovered and studied recently

The Poverty Point Archaeological Site is an ancient earthwork and burial mound built by the locals between 1700 and 1000 BC, during the Late Archaic period of North American history.

Not so primitive

Scientists believe that this is the most ancient civilization in the region, but until recently it was believed that these ancient people were primitive.

This was evidenced by decorations and tools that were discovered in the past.

However, the structures that this civilization left behind turned out to be extremely intricate and difficult to build, even taking into account the technologies of architecture of the 21st century.

Purpose of buildings

Their exact purpose is unknown: perhaps it was something like a trading platform or a ritual complex. Scientists suggest that this place could serve as a religious center, which was visited by pilgrims from different parts of the continent.

Construction methods

The construction required more than one and a half million cubic meters of land. These structures were erected without modern tools, equipment, and even without wheeled vehicles and draft animals. During this period of history in America, the natives had neither horses nor domesticated cattle. How they did it remains a mystery.

Three thousand years

And the most amazing thing is that earthworks existed for more than three thousand years without additional fortifications. Moreover, modern bridges or dams built using the latest technology are destroyed much faster.

Suddenly abandoned

Turny Point, like many other similar monuments of antiquity, was suddenly abandoned at one time. This happened about two thousand years ago – probably due to floods in the Mississippi Valley and climate change.

First ancient American civilizations were skilled engineers 3
Photo from the excavation before the scientists took the samples. See how the color changes with each layer, showing how ancient Americans used different soils to build their structures

Dating methods

Using modern dating methods, including radiocarbon dating, soil microscopic analysis and others, scientists have obtained evidence that the mounds were created in a short time. No signs of weathering were found between the levels.


This means that for construction of such a scale, a serious personnel reserve was required, which was not only well organized, but also had certain qualifications.

Even more impressive is the fact that the structures are still intact, although due to the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico in these places there is a large amount of precipitation that erodes such embankments.

Various types of soil

As shown by microscopic analysis of the soil, the builders mixed different types – clay, silt and sand – in the right proportions in order to achieve the special strength of the structure.

Thus, Native Americans discovered a recipe for “concrete” from the soil, which, according to researchers, simple hunter-gatherers were not capable of.

Harder than previously thought

Based on this, one can make an assumption about a more complex social organization of the first civilization of America.


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