New evidence supports idea that America's first civilization was made up of 'sophisticated' engineers

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New evidence discovered at Poverty Point in northern Louisiana by anthropologists challenges previous beliefs about how pre-modern hunter-gatherers behaved.
The Native Americans who occupied the area known as Poverty Point in northern Louisiana more than 3,000 years ago long have been believed to be simple hunters and gatherers. But new Washington University in St. Louis archaeological findings paint a drastically different picture of America's first civilization.

Far from the simplicity of life sometimes portrayed in anthropology books, these early Indigenous people were highly skilled engineers capable of building massive earthen structures in a matter of months -- possibly even weeks -- that withstood the test of times, the findings show.

"We as a research community -- and population as a whole -- have undervalued native people and their ability to do this work and to do it quickly in the ways they did," said Tristram R. "T.R." Kidder, lead author and the Edward S. and Tedi Macias Professor of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences.

"One of the most remarkable things is that these earthworks have held together for more than 3,000 years with no failure or major erosion. By comparison, modern bridges, highways and dams fail with amazing regularity because building things out of dirt is more complicated than you would think. They really were incredible engineers with very sophisticated technical knowledge."

The findings were published in Southeastern Archaeology on September, 1, 2021. Washington University's Kai Su, Seth B. Grooms, along with graduates Edward R. Henry (Colorado State) and Kelly Ervin (USDA Natural Resources…
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