Student handout

Artifacts All Over the Place

Hundreds of artifacts from the Poverty Point site have just arrived at your lab, the ____________________ Archaeological Center. The artifacts are in cardboard boxes labeled with the location where they were discovered! You and the rest of your archaeological team will need to sort through the specimens, categorize them by type, and see if you can make any sense out of what the field archaeologists are finding. It's an enormous job, but you can do it! Use your extraordinary thinking skills to analyze, hypothesize, and reach conclusions about the data you've received. Follow these steps to organize the artifacts all over the place!

Step 1:

Your envelope contains artifacts from one of the sections of the Poverty Point site. Find your section on the Poverty Point map.

We are studying the _______________________section of Poverty Point.

Step 2:

Cut out your artifacts. If a circle is drawn around two pictures, they are pictures of the same artifact from different sides. Cut on the line around the circle and count it as one artifact! Do not cut them apart!

Look carefully at the pictures of the artifacts to determine any similarities among them. Use what you know about the Poverty Point culture to analyze the uses of the artifacts. Discuss how the artifacts might have been used as you categorize them into several groups. Make up a name for each one of your groups. Record the names and numbers of each kind of artifact below.

Kind of Artifact
What was the object used for?


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Step 3:

Now you are ready to share your results with the scientific community. Begin by telling the other archaeologists at the____________________ Archaeological Center about your findings. Share your categories with them and see if their results are similar. Discuss your category names and reach an agreement about which artifact category names to use for the entire study.

Step 4:

Your group will create the bar graph on the next page to show the kinds of artifacts located in your section of Poverty Point. Write your category names on the left. The number of objects is given along the bottom of the graph. Draw and color the bars on the graph to show your results.

Step 5:

Use your bar graph to reach some conclusions about the kinds of activities the Poverty Point people did MOST in your area of the settlement. Which activities were done LEAST? Was there a lot of cooking going on? Were hunting tools being made in your area? Were figurines and tools constructed there? Write a paragraph on the Summary of Archaeological Findings page telling about your findings. Be sure to sign your work as Dr. ________, because you are a world famous scientist with a Ph.D. in anthropology! Glue your graph and summary next to your section of the Poverty Point map.

Step 6:

Discuss the finished map with the other archaeologists at the Center. What conclusions can you reach about the uses of different sections of the Poverty Point site? Were some sections used for specific activities? What hypotheses can you make based on the artifacts which were found? Brainstorm your ideas and write a paragraph telling the world about your findings. Publish your results in the Archaeological Journal for Scientific Research or the school news letter!

Step 7:

Compare your results with another archaeologist's work. Dr. Clarence Webb completed a similar analysis of 18,727 artifacts found at Poverty Point. His results can be found in The Poverty Point Culture. Ask your teacher for a copy of Dr. Webb's findings at this time. Discuss Dr. Webb's analysis and compare his results with your own. How do your results compare with his?

Approximately 1% of the Poverty Point site has been excavated by archaeologists at the present time. Do you think your results might change as more artifacts are unearthed?

Dr. Webb's Findings

Dr. Webb examined and categorized 18,727 artifacts into groups when he completed his study. Here are some of Dr. Webb's major observations and explanations:


1. Group 1 contained objects used in cooking such as cooking balls. About 90 % of the cooking objects were found in the North and South sections of Poverty Point. Dr. Webb concluded that this indicated a lot of cooking and family habitation in these areas. He also believed that most people lived on the eastern side of the village near the water supplies.


2. Group 2 included the tiny stone tools called microliths. These were found most often in the Southwest section. Dr. Webb concluded that the Southwest area was a special area for using this kind of tool. He thought that craftsmen worked there making things from bone, antlers, and wood.


3. Group 3 included large stone chopping and cutting tools such as axes, hoes, and hand tools. Each section had some of these tools, showing they were used all over the site.


4. Stone spear points were in Group 4. These hunting tools were found in all sections. Dr. Webb called attention to the fact that the hunting tools were fairly evenly distributed, whereas the cooking tools were concentrated in certain areas. He concluded that this meant that different people were doing the two activities.


5. Group 5 was made up of beads, pendants, and figurines. Some of these artifacts were found in each section. However, certain special artifacts were found more often in the north area, causing Dr. Webb to conclude that the leaders of Poverty Point lived in this section.

Clarence H. Webb (1982) courtesy of LSU Dept. of Geography and Anthropology

Dr. Webb's Bar Graph of the

Intrasite Distribution of Artifacts at Poverty Point