This Louisiana city is older than the pyramids

The mysteries of this place are still being unraveled today.

It may surprise you to learn that there’s a Louisiana city that was being built at the same time as Stonehenge (like several thousands of years ago) but there was. As one of the most important archaeological sites in North America, Poverty Point was an ancient city built at a time between the construction of Egypt’s Great Pyramids and the Great Mayan pyramids.

And the kicker? It was built by hand. Using what historians believe to be about 50-pound baskets, men and women who settled in the area shaped the mound with dirt.

The largest mound is about 72 feet tall. That’s about 8 million cubic feet of dirt. And if you do the math, about 15.5 million 50 pound basketfuls of dirt. That’s a lot of dirt.

Views from the top of the 72 foot mound at Poverty Point.
Views from the top of the 72-foot mound at Poverty Point.

Historians aren’t exactly sure what the area was used for, but based on the landscaping and artifacts that have been discovered, Poverty Point was used for many different things.

The outer rings would have been for dwellings, and the mound used for ceremonial purposes.

Artist rendering of what Poverty Point may have looked like.
Artist rendering of what Poverty Point may have looked like.

Historians also believe the area was part of a massive trade network. Stone from other parts of the country, some even from 1,000 miles away, has been found.

So have several other artifacts. Like tips from arrows and spears, pottery, tools and figurines.

The area was abandoned around 1100 B.C., and historians aren’t exactly sure why. And other than another native group settling the area for a short while around 700 A.D., it wasn’t fully settled again until the 1800s.

The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962, one of the highest honors for an archaeological site in the U.S. And in 2014, it achieved an even higher honor. It was named a World Heritage site. One of only three in the U.S. with the distinction.