Mound Builders: Fastest Builders in the Americas?

New research suggests the Mississippian culture, aka the Mound Builders, built at least one of their giant earthen mounds in just 90 days and maybe even as quickly as 30 days. An astonishing feat from a collective point of view. But can you imagine being one of the poor workers who had to carry the dirt? Like many other civilizations, the Mound Builders probably collapsed due to excessive centralization. Here’s more from

Nominated early this year for recognition on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes such famous cultural sites as the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu and Stonehenge, the earthen works at Poverty Point, La., have been described as one of the world’s greatest feats of construction by an archaic civilization of hunters and gatherers.

Now, new research in the current issue of the journal Geoarchaeology, offers compelling evidence that one of the massive earthen mounds at Poverty Point was constructed in less than 90 days, and perhaps as quickly as 30 days—an incredible accomplishment for what was thought to be a loosely organized society consisting of small, widely scattered bands of foragers.

“What’s extraordinary about these findings is that it provides some of the first evidence that early American hunter-gatherers were not as simplistic as we’ve tended to imagine,” says study co-author T.R. Kidder, PhD, professor and chair of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.  “Our findings go against what has long been considered the academic consensus on hunter-gather societies—that they lack the political organization necessary to bring together so many people to complete a labor-intensive project in such a short period.”

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