Poverty Point

Tristram R. Kidder

in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195380118
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Poverty Point

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Poverty Point is an archaeological site of the same name and a cultural pattern in the lower Mississippi Valley, roughly from Memphis, Tennessee, to the Gulf of Mexico. This culture is dated ca. 3600–3100 cal BP. Traditionally, Poverty Point is identified by use of fired clay cooking balls; diagnostic projectile point or knife forms; intensive consumption of lithic raw materials derived from great distances; microlithic tools; a lapidary industry emphasizing beads, gorgets, and plummets; and a hunter-gatherer subsistence pattern focused on extraction of floodplain resources, especially fish, deer, and nuts. Numerous traits characterizing Poverty Point culture are widely distributed in the lower Mississippi Valley. Many sites are said to participate in this culture if they employ one or more of the constellation of traits, most notably use of clay cooking balls or consumption of nonlocal lithic materials.

Keywords: Poverty Point; archaeological site; lower Mississippi Valley; lithic raw materials; cultural pattern; fired clay cooking balls

Article.  4056 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of North America

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