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More Grandpa Davey Speaks

A Path with a Heart
A Stop at Willoughby
Can't Captue It
Crossing Texas
Ewe To?
Golden Biscuits
Invest in Yourself
Killing Me Softly
Leave it to Beaver
Locke Machine
Lost in the Grand Canyon
Mind Over Temperature
Mother of all Storms
Mr. Wizard
Mysterious Money
No Sense at All
Not Shadow People
Poverty Point
Queer Creatures
Reckless Abandon
Shadow People
Squirt Gets Run Over
Sub Prime
The Cheapest Medicine
The Golden Calf
Ticket to Freedom
Two Types of Girls
Vaya Con Dios
Wake Up!
Where's the Beef?
Worst Case Scenario


Poverty Point

Sitting here pondering our lost past, I witness evidence of a dynamic planet that leaves little of the past intact. Surrounded by the mountains, I sit next to a lazy late summer river, gazing across wheat fields in the flat lower valley. I realize that this is but a temporary face shown during our experience here. Looking closer, one can see that all is not as it once was.

Mesa Verde National Park, ColoradoBeneath my feet is sedimentary rock laid down in ancient seas, ground into gravel by glaciers and finally into sand by the meandering course of the river. Forty million years ago, the floor of this ancient sea was thrust two miles into the sky by immense geological movements. Next the ice sheet came and carved the mountains into the jagged features we see today. As I glance across the valley, I see the flat topped mountains of the northern Mission Range. These mountains were sheared off by the confluence of the Flathead and Swan Glaciers. This valley was once part of the Flathead Trench extending from well into Canada to the lower Mission Valley. As the ice sheet receded, the trench filled in to become Glacial Lake Missoula. Lake Missoula’s draining is considered the greatest flood ever discovered. Picture a dam break with ten times greater flow than all the rivers on earth combined. Thousands of years later, the ground is still scarred from this mighty river coursing its way to the Pacific.

Suppose that, instead of my truck, I was sitting in H.G. Well’s Time Machine. I would find myself hovering over an ocean, beneath miles of rock, beneath miles of ice, under a huge lake, in a river and finally on a peaceful riverbank. We truly live on a planet constantly recycling itself, leaving little trace of what once was.

Aside from the geology lesson, today’s story is about our lost past. It is said that those that forget the past are condemned to repeat it. History is a litany of repeated stories. As far back as we are aware, humans have been essentially the same. They share the same stories, dreams, desires, rules and morals.

Where did this cycle start? I’ve always thought that the answers lie in the civilization that preceded our same old, same old culture. Many believe that we are but a remnant of a previous advanced culture. That culture disappeared perhaps twelve to fifteen thousand years ago. In conversation, I used to boldly state that important secrets were to be found with the discovery of this lost past. I also knew where to find it.

Centers of human civilizations occur near river deltas and seaports. During the period in question, sea levels were two hundred feet lower than at present. Look two hundred feet down in the water and you will find answers. Underwater archeology is difficult and expensive, so don’t expect answers any time soon.

Speaking of which, archeologists are a funny lot. They spend their careers digging up what others have discovered and fit their finds to preconceived theories. Unlike other fields of science, new discoveries can end their careers. Anomalous finds should be discarded and immediately sent to the forbidden archeology bin.

Much closer in time, and less subject to climatic and geological forces, is the Anasazi culture of the American Southwest. The Mesa Verde site in Colorado was discovered and worked by a rancher named Richard Wetherill. Archeologists vilified Wetherill as a pothunter and took over the site. What we know of these famed cliff dwellers is this:

they disappeared seven hundred years ago
they had trade connections throughout North and South America
we have the physical remains of their culture

Over one hundred years of study and we still know nothing of these peoples.

My favorite lost culture is the Poverty Point people. They were a Mound Builder culture that existed far too early to be found in Louisiana. In 1957, aerial photography revealed concentric semi circles in a field. Still prominent in land that had been farmed for a century, these little levees were obviously man-made. At three-quarters of a mile across, they must have required considerable effort to construct. The site also included a series of Indian mounds, one in the shape of a bird. A wealth of artifacts has been recovered testifying to the practical and artistic skill of the large number of people occupying the site. Trade goods were found that originate throughout North America. This includes large quantities of stone imported from up to 1400 miles away. Probably due to the damp climate, no dwelling or burial evidence of this large populous has been discovered. This site dates to 4,500 years ago. Extensively studied and still, we know nothing of these people.

What makes this my favorite archeological site is its calmative affects. When I am anxious and can’t get to sleep, I say this “I’ll think about Poverty Point.” With my mind clear, I just fall asleep because, at that moment, I know nothing.


Want to know more about Poverty Point Historic Site?  Visit the Louisiana State Parks website.


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