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September 6, 2007

Presentation by archeologist T.R. Kidder to occur at ULM Oct. 1

The State of Louisiana Division of Archaeology and the University of Louisiana at Monroe Museum of Natural History are proud to announce a lecture by Tristram R. Kidder, professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, on Monday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. in the ULM Alumni Center. A reception will follow the presentation.

Dr. Kidder's lecture will be titled: "The DaVincis of Dirt: Architecture and Engineering of Mounds in the Mississippi Valley.

The talk will discuss the sophistication of mound builders' engineering and architectural skill and using these data to understand the nature of these societies. For over 6,000 years American Indians built earthen mounds in the Mississippi River Basin of eastern North America.

While mounds have long been the focus of early antiquarian interest and later intensive archaeological research, it is only recently that archaeologists began to address the science and engineering of mound construction.

Traditionally, archaeologists have assumed mounds were erected by a simple process of accumulating soils and sediments by "basket loading" piles into stages, shaping whatever architectural form was desired. New work suggests mound building required a planned effort that incorporated a sophisticated understanding of soil properties and considerable engineering skills. Mound builders took advantage of soil color and texture differences for visual and geotechnical purposes. Examples are used from three large prehistoric sites, Poverty Point, Shiloh Mounds, and Cahokia to illustrate the sophisticated capacities of American Indian mound builders.

Understanding how earthen mounds were constructed provides insight into the social, political, and economic organization of these societies and illustrates that features as accomplished architectural features instead of mere piles of dirt.

For additional information, contact Joe Saunders at (318) 342-1899 or or Gary L. Stringer at (318) 342-1266 or

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