I visited the Lower Jackson Mound near Epps, LA today. It is just a couple of miles from Poverty Point and was once thought to be part of that complex. It is aligned due south of the largest mound at Poverty Point and Poverty Point artifacts were found near the site . But research has shown that it is older, much older. The Lower Jackson Mound is from the Middle Archaic period, nearly 6000 years ago.
It is a beautiful site, especially this time of year. It stands in the midst of a cotton field, ripe for harvest.
There is a small family cemetery on the top which is probably why it has survived as long as it has. Portions of it were removed in the 1970s and 1980s so only roughly 70% of the mound remains. Still, it is about 8 feet tall and almost 130 feet in diameter at the base.
It was only 80 degrees this morning and breezy – a Louisiana style cold front was moving through. The air was dry as I stood on the top of the mound, surveying the cotton field, steering clear of the fire ants, looking for the large doe that had run in front of my car as I first drove in. In the distance, due north, I realized I could see the “Bird Mound” at Poverty Point. By looking through my telephoto lens I could just make out the steps leading to the top of the mound, a jagged line in the near center of the frame.
Strange to think the Lower Jackson inhabitants would have looked into that space and seen emptiness. Flat ground. A distant horizon. But I could see the future … Poverty Point being constructed some 3000 years later … LA Hwy 134 cutting between the sites … the steeple of a church … telephone lines … the current Poverty Point State Historic Site where over 60 school children from Baton Rouge were visiting today.
I always feel those ancient spirits looking with me and I always wonder what they would think of their sacred ground now. I think they have to feel proud that the mound they built with baskets of dirt 6000 years ago still stands. And that there are still some of us left who consider it sacred. There are 60 children who now know, thanks to the wonderful staff at Poverty Point, how to use an atlatl, how to cook using clay cooking balls and how to screen the dirt for artifacts that will continue to tell us new stories.
This site is now owned by the Archaeological Conservancy and will be protected for the foreseeable future. Thanks to Jessica Crawford from the Southeast Regional Office in Marks, MS for giving me permission to photograph there. And to David Griffing, newly installed director of the Poverty Point State Historic Site, for getting me on the right turnrow.