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Poverty Point

A Late Archaic Site in Louisiana

2009 Reprint Edition

James A. Ford and Clarence H. Webb (1956)


We have updated this publication by the inclusion of the full page color plate of the famous Poverty Point clay objects from Clarence B. Moore's Some Aboriginal Sites in Louisiana and in Arkansas that was not included with the original publication. 

This 8-1/4" x 10-1/2", 142 page, soft cover, facsimile reprint features 6 full page plates, large foldout 3-D view of the site and full page color plate. $17.95 


Fig. 2. Block diagram of the Poverty Point Site. Bayou Macon lies at the foot of the low bluff that forms the eastern edge of Macon Ridge. The natural levee on the east bank of the Stage H course of the Arkansas River can be seen at the left corner of the block. The heights of the artificial ridges, the Poverty Point Mound, and the Motley Mound have been exaggerated. The above foldout diagram is 26" in Length



Poverty Point clay objects plate from Clarence B. Moore's Some Aboriginal Sites in Louisiana and in Arkansas


Table of Contents

Field-Work at Poverty Point
History of the Site
Description of the Site
Physiography Related to the Poverty Point Site
Cut 1
Cut 2
Cut 3
Cut 4
Cuts 5 and 6
Cut 7
Cut 8
Cut 9
Cut 10
Summary of Evidence Derived from Excavations in the Octagonal Ridges
Discussion of the Earthworks
Excavation of Mound B
Interpretation of Mound B Features
Poverty Point Objects
Type A, Biconical Plain
Type A3, Biconical Grooved
Type B, Cylindrical with Lateral Grooves
Type C, Cross-grooved
Type F, Melon-shaped
Type G, Melon-shaped with End Grooves
Type D, Spheroidal
Type H, Amorphous
Type I, Biscuit-shaped
Unusual Forms
Relative Ages of Different Portions of the Site
Comparison of the Chronologies of Baked Clay Balls from Jaketown and Poverty Point
Clay Figurines
Projectile Points
Gary Points
Magon Points
Pontchartrain Points
Ellis Points
Carrollton Points
Motley Points
Marshall Points
Epps Points
Delhi Points
Marcos Points
The Kent, Yarbrough, and Trinity Problem
Kent Points
Yarbrough Points
Trinity Points
Ensor Points
Martindale Points
Palmillas Points
Meserve Points
Desmuke Points
Wells Points
Evans Points
Hale Points
Webb Points
Plainview Points
Almagre Points
Morhiss Points
Reworked Points
Asymmetrical Points
Unusual Projectile Points
Comparison of Types of Projectile Points
The Microflint Industry at Poverty Point
Unmodified Blades
"Jaketown Perforators"
Perforators Used as Drills
Double-ended Perforators
Notched Blades
Comparisons of Microflint Industry
Large, Chipped Stone Tools
Circular or Ovoid Blanks
Chipped Flint Abraders
Irregularly Shaped "Choppers"
Rough Picks or Pointed Tools
Large Irregular Cores
Large Flake Scrapers
Small Flake Scrapers
Triangular Blades
Ovate and Leaf-shaped Knives
Asymmetrical Knives
Chipped Adzes
Chipped Celts
Ground Stone Weapons and Tools
Ground Stone Adzes
Small, Ground Stone Celts
Large, Ground Stone Celts
Grooved Axe
Clinker Whetstones
Pitted Stones
Sandstone Saws
Ornaments, Pipes, and Problematical Objects
Rectangular Tablets with Narrow Ends
Stone Beads, Buttons, Small Pendants, and Tubes
Tubular Pipes
Miscellaneous Fragments of Stone
Fragments of Galena
Quartz Crystals
Fragments of Red Ocher
Cane Cores
Steatite Vessels
Sandstone Vessel Fragments
Carrying Baskets
Analysis and Distribution of Artifacts in Cut 4
Unworked Pebbles
Unmodified Blades and Related Flakes
Irregular Flakes
Angular Spalls and Scrap
Projectile and Knife Points
Blanks and Rejects, Rough Irregular
Samples for Pollen Analysis
Dating of the Poverty Point Complex and Later Cultural Periods in the Lower Mississippi
Relative Cultural Dating
Geological Dating
Radiocarbon Dating
Conclusions and Speculations
Trade and Travel
Interpretations Based on Cultural Data
Literature Cited
Catalogue Data for Certain Illustrations


1. Artifact Distribution per 1000 Cubic Inches in Excavated Layers in Cut 4
2. Poverty Point Objects
3. Summary of Projectile Points from Poverty Point
4. Frequency of Projectile Types from Poverty Point, from Northwestern Louisiana, and from Central Louisiana
5. Summary of Microflint Industry at Poverty Point
6. Plummets from Poverty Point
7. Provenience of Potsherds
8. Analysis and Distribution of Artifacts from Cut 4, Ridge 6, Northwest Sector
9. Radiocarbon Assays



1. Stereogram of air photographs of the Poverty Point Site
2. Oblique air view of the Poverty Point earthworks
3. Mosaic of air photographs of the Poverty Point Site and vicinity
4. Excavating the strata cut, Trench 8, using motor sifter
5. Excavating the hard-packed ash bed at the base of Mound B
6. The Poverty Point Mound from the west


1. Map of portions of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas showing the locations of known
   sites of the Poverty Point culture: Jaketown, Paxton Brake, Poverty Point, and Calion
2. Block diagram of the Poverty Point Site
3. Contour map of the Poverty Point Mound
4. Contour map of the Motley Mound
5. Comparison of the sizes and shapes of the Poverty Point and Motley mounds by means of
    the 105- and 140-foot contour lines
6. Map showing the Poverty Point Site and the Troyville-Coles Creek Period Jackson Site that
    lies to the south of the geometrical earthworks
7. North profile of Trench 2
8. North profile of Trench 4
9. East and west profiles of Trench 7
10. North profile of Trench 9
11. Contour map of Mound B
12. Profile of the north wall of the North 60-70 trench across Mound B
13. Common types of baked clay cooking balls from Poverty Point refuse deposits
14. Unusual varieties of baked clay objects
15. Frequencies of the different types of baked clay balls from several stratigraphic
     excavations in the Poverty Point village
16. Figurines of baked clay from Poverty Point refuse deposits
17. Projectile points of Gary type
18. Comparison of the range in length of points classified as Gary
19. Projectile points of Macon, Pontchartrain, Ellis, Carrollton, and Motley types
20. Projectile points of Marshall, Epps, Delhi, and Marcos types
21. Projectile points of Kent, Yarbrough, Trinity, Ensor, Martindale, Palmillas, Meserve, and
     Desmuke types
22. Projectile points of Wells, Evans, Hale, and Webb types
23. Projectile points of Plainview, Almagre, and Morhiss types; also asymmetrical, unusual, and
     resharpened points
24. Graph comparing types and frequencies of projectile points from Poverty Point with
     stratigraphy in Site Ct° 27 in Pickwick Basin, Tennessee River Valley, and with several later
25. Comparison of recently manufactured "perforators" with specimens from the Poverty Point
26. Examples of the microflint industry from Poverty Point
27. Arrowpoints, ovoid blanks, abrader, irregularly shaped choppers, and pick-like tools
28. Large flake scrapers, ovate blades, and triangular blades
29. Asymmetrical knives, chipped adzes, chipped celt, and drills
30. Chipped stone tools
31. Chipped adzes and ground celts
32. Rough ground adzes or possibly hoes
33. Plummets or bolas weights made of hematite and magnetite
34. Rough stone tools
35. Gorgets and gorget fragments showing holes drilled for repair
36. Pipes and problematical objects
37. Stone beads
38. Small ornaments
39. Fiber-tempered potsherds
40. Profiles of fragments of soapstone vessels
41. Steatite vessels and a large fragment with an animal figure carved in relief
42. Stone vessels
43. Basketry impressions
44. Radiocarbon assays on archeological samples related to the cultural chronology of the
     lower portion of the Mississippi River alluvial valley
45. Sources of raw materials brought to the Poverty Point Site