Student handout

Perplexing Poverty Point Figurines

Archaeologists have found over a hundred clay figurines at the Poverty Point site. They think that these statues may have been sacred or religious objects. The figurines are of seated or kneeling women who have no legs or arms. Some of the women appear to be pregnant. The heads of the figurines are almost always missing and archaeologists think the heads were snapped off on purpose. The figurine heads have details like eyes and mouths carved into them, perhaps with a fingernail or a stick. Some of the heads even have lines to show hair on the head.

Brainstorm and think of reasons for the missing heads! Imagine what kind of ceremony might have accompanied the snapping off of the figurine's head. What do you think the Poverty Point people believed about the figurines? Why do you think they may have decapitated the figurines?

Write a short story telling about a woman and her sacred figurine. Give the woman a name and describe how she looks and what kind of clothes she wears. Give details about the setting. Where and when does your story take place? What kind of a house does she live in? Tell how and why the figurine was made. Tell how the figurine lost its head. Describe everything that happens and give details.

Jot down your ideas before you begin to write:

After you write your story, make your own clay figurine out of self-hardening pottery clay. Be sure to add details like eyes, mouth, and hair.