Time and Place
The Bayou Jasmine site is in St. John the Baptist Parish on the west side of Lake Pontchartrain. Archaeologists named the site after the bayou that flows along the site’s southern edge. The site is on the natural levee, which was high, dry ground at the time people lived there. The location also provided easy access to the bayou for food and travel.
American Indians used the site from 800 B.C. to A.D. 1400. That is a span of 2,200 years! The main use of the site, though, was during the Early Woodland period, from 800 B.C. to A.D. 1. The people who lived during that time in Louisiana are called the Tchefuncte culture. These Indians were the first in the area to make lots of pottery. They used some types of stone artifacts like those from the earlier Late Archaic period. However, groups were less active in long-distance trade and earthwork construction than before.
During the Early Woodland period, people left behind a lot of food waste, broken tools and other trash. The name for this kind of built-up deposit of household trash is a midden. The midden at Bayou Jasmine extends over an area nearly as big as a
What else was going on in the world while the Tchefuncte people lived at Bayou Jasmine? About 800 B.C., the ancestors of modern Polynesians first settled on islands in the Pacific. Around 500 B.C., people built the Parthenon in Greece. By A.D. 1, the Roman Empire was in power.
football field. Its contents show that people at the site relied on food like fish and clams from the nearby water. South Louisiana has other midden sites from this period. However, not one is as rich in perishable artifacts as Bayou Jasmine.
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