2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


SAUNDERS, Joe W., Geosciences, University of Louisiana - Monroe, Monroe, LA 71209 and MANDEL, Rolfe D., Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas, 1930 Constant Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66047-3724, saunders@ulm.edu

Middle Archaic earthen mound complexes in the lower Mississippi valley are remote antecedents of the famous but much younger Poverty Point earthworks. Watson Brake is the largest and most extensively investigated of these very early mound sites. Here, minor earthworks were begun at ca. 3500 B.C. in association with an oval arrangement of burned rock middens at the edge of a stream terrace. Substantial mound construction began ca. 3350 B.C and continued episodically until some time after 3000 B.C. when the site was abandoned. The eleven mounds and their connecting ridges were occupied between building episodes. Soils formed on these temporary surfaces, while lithics, fire-cracked rock, and fired earthen objects became scattered throughout the mound fills. Food remains from a basal midden indicate multiseasonal occupations, supported by broad-spectrum foraging centered on nuts, fish, and deer. The area enclosed by the mounds was kept clean of debris, suggesting its use as ritual space.