Poverty Point in Louisiana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a National Monument. Constructed over 3,000 years ago, its tall earthen mounds make up one of the best known examples of monumental architecture created by a community of hunter gatherers before the adoption of agriculture. The earthworks include a bird-shaped effigy mound and a series of concentric, C-shaped ridges. Recent geoarchaeological evidence suggests that the mounds were constructed incredibly quickly, especially considering the technology available. Mound A, one of the later mounds, is estimated to contain 8.4 million cubic feet of dirt and may have been constructed in fewer than 90 days.
Archaeological Fun Fact: Poverty Point was part of a long-distance trade network, importing mainly stones and minerals. These materials were used to make tools and ornaments, including polished stone beads shaped like animals.
Park website: www.nps.gov/popo/
The Castillo de San Marcos, in St. Augustine, is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Constructed during the late 17th century, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire, the fortress is known for its “bastion-system” (star-shaped) layout and a porous limestone building material that absorbed cannon balls, rather than shattering. The Castillo was part of the long, often violent history of colonialism in the Americas, and it served as a prison for rebellious Native Americans while under U.S. control in the 1800s.
Archaeological Fun Fact: St. Augustine is known for its public archaeology. In 2011, city archaeologist Carl Halbirt and volunteers uncovered the remnants of a large wooden structure, likely a fort dating to the 1500s or 1600s. It is probably a predecessor to the Castillo de San Marcos.
Park website: www.nps.gov/casa/