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/
Biscayne National Park includes a mangrove forest, part of Biscayne Bay, the northern islands of the Florida Keys, and part of the third-largest coral reef in the world. The prehistory of Biscayne includes the arrival of Paleo-Indians more than 10,000 years ago; the more sedentary Glades culture, which left behind many shell middens, dated to at least 2,500 years ago; and the Tequesta people, who still occupied the area when the first Europeans arrived. Snorkelers and divers can explore six of the park’s many historic shipwrecks.
Archaeological Fun Fact: Much of the archaeology at Biscayne is underwater. Specially trained archaeologists dive deep to record and preserve the shipwrecks within the park. Unfortunately, these shipwrecks are also a target for looters.
Park website: www.nps.gov/bisc/