Today was basically a traveling day. Lots of Louisiana’s lush crops and a few bayous with gathering clouds and threatening drops of rain throughout. And we were on I-20 for most of the day, which made things just a little less interesting. But, when we got to Poverty Point, we had to stop. This is the site where between 1300-1100 B.C. a thriving, hunting, trading and agricultural culture built earthen mounds to create a village able to house about 1500 inhabitants.
Most interesting to me, as a liturgist, is the mounds were built in the half circle, six rows deep, with a large ritual space (about the size of 2 football fields) where the center of the circle would be. The inhabitants lived up on the half-circular mounds and held events and rituals in the public space. It was shockingly similar to the nave and sanctuary of the parish church where I worked for 16 years. The realization made me think there must be something primal about such an arrangement. After all, the Mounds Peoples in 1300 BC, as well as the people who re-designed churches in the 1990’s had similar ideas!
Archaeologist have uncovered evidence of the complex culture who lived on these mounds. These people had tools, agriculture, art and an industrious spirit. They moved all the dirt in baskets to create the mound’s structure. Stunning to think about this complex culture thriving here in Louisiana in 1300 BC – about the same time as the great pyramids were being built in Egypt!
My episodic memory was ignited today as we walked among the mounds. I was thrown back to a day when I went on an archaeological dig; and also a day (some 25 years later) when I was helping to re-design a more functional worship space. Never before had I thought the two experiences had anything in common – until today!
A couple of hours later, we crossed the Mighty Mississippi. And entering Mississippi, where I had never been before, (nor had I ever been in Louisiana before the other day) I now have only one state left to enter, Alabama, before having been in all 50 states.
We grabbed a quick lunch and went over to the Vicksburg Military Park, but only had just less than an hour before they closed. So, we watched the introductory film and plan to spend the day tomorrow educating ourselves about the Civil War battle that took place in this town in 1863.
The storm that was threatening all day finally appeared about 7:00 pm with crashing thunder and lightening. To our surprise, the electricity suddenly went out in the hotel! Just the right time for telling stories in the gathering dark. (It did come back on about a half hour later or you wouldn’t be reading this post.)