Is the Oldest Man-Made Structure on Earth on a Louisiana College Campus?
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Two 20-foot-tall man-made mounds standing next to each other. Commonly thought to be at least 5,000 years old. Now, two professors claim at least one is over 11,000 years old.
Situated in the middle of the wilderness, somewhere the arid deserts or the deadly mountains of the Old World? Don’t be silly; they’re in the center of campus, just across the street from the college football field, at LSU in Baton Rouge.
LSU geology professor Brooks Ellwood, in a recently published study, based on new research and a reevaluation of old research on the sites, claims that the mounds, once thought of as around 5,000 years old, are actually millennia older. Additionally, he claims that they were never used simultaneously; the younger one was made around 7,500 years ago and used for an unknown amount of time, and the elder was used around 11,300–8,200 years ago. And, like that wasn’t enough, his coauthor, LSU astronomy professor Geoffery Clayton, claims in the same paper that both mounds were aligned in their time about 8.5 degrees east of true north to the rise of the star Arcturus, the fourth-brightest in the entire night sky.
They also took interest in the long-debated usage of the sites. Sediment core samples from the elder mound produced evidence of burned ash and cane plants, as well some sort of mammalian bone fragments encased in mineralized reed (from cane plants), together suggesting some sort of crematory, sacrificial or otherwise ceremonial use. Their position, too, overlooking (disregarding all the buildings in the way now) the Mississippi River floodplain, suggests they were built to be seen from a distance or to watch over the surrounding area. What we have, then, from two mounds known to settlers for almost 200 years now, is a picture of an archaeological wonder utterly unique in the world. Not only were they likely important gathering spaces, strategic markers and sites of funerals or sacrifices, and not only may they have had an additional astronomical importance, but they’re also among the, if not the, oldest surviving man-made structures in the entire world.