Archaeologists have not found any objects at the site that were clearly used just for ceremonies. Yet, they have had a hard time interpreting some of the things they have found, and ceremonial use cannot be ruled out. The best example of this may be the small, clay figurines archaeologists have found at the site, mostly on the earthen ridges.
The figurines show a range of body shapes. Some look like seated, pregnant women and others are slender. Most of the figurines were made without arms or legs, and the majority are missing their heads. Archaeologists have found clay heads around the site, but the number of bodies is far greater.
Archaeologists know people lived at the site, but did it have a ceremonial use, too? The site's mounds, plaza and ridges offer researchers clues about ceremonial life at Poverty Point.
Many people probably assume the mounds were used for burials, but this is not true. Archaeologists have not found any prehistoric graves at the site. What they have found within some of the mounds are the remains of fire pits and possible postholes. These could be the remains of buildings or ceremonies that people held on the mounds.
Sometimes, clues can be where you least expect them. Though it is flat and even, the plaza offers one of the best looks at ceremonial life at the site. Here, under the plaza's surface, are hundreds of big postholes. American Indians once placed posts in big circles in the plaza, with some circles measuring more than 200 feet across. Some of these posts were over 2 feet in diameter.
Many of the ring-shaped features (left) that archaeologists have found in the plaza seem to overlap. This might mean that the posts were not meant to be permanent. People seem to have pulled old posts from the ground rather than letting them rot in place.
Poverty Point figurines could be statues of ancestors, magical charms, or even toys. Why is it so hard to tell what the figurines are meant to be? Archaeologists largely rely on patterns and context to understand the past. The figurines come in a variety of forms and have not been found with other things that give clues to their use. This makes it hard for archaeologists to interpret them.
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