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Poverty Point sites in Louisiana and western Mississippi exhibit the first major residential settlements and monumentalearthworks in the United States Although the Poverty Point culture is not well understood in terms of social organization it wasinvolved in the transportation of nonlocal raw materials for example shell stone and copper from throughout the easternUnited States into the lower Mississippi River Valley to selected sites where the materials were worked into finished productsand then traded While specific information on Poverty Point subsistence trade mechanisms and other cultural aspects is stillspeculative the sites nevertheless exhibit specific material culture such as baked clay objects magnetite plummets steatitebowls red-jasper lapidary work fiber-tempered pottery and microlithic stone tools By around 500 BC the Poverty Point culture was replaced by the TchulaTchefuncte Early Woodland culture which existedin western Tennessee Louisiana southern Arkansas western Mississippi and coastal Alabama The sites of this lowerMississippi River Valley culture were small village settlements Subsistence continued to consist of intensive collecting of wildplants and animals as with the preceding Poverty Point culture but for the first time quantities of pottery were produced Thereappears to be a de-emphasis on long-distance trade and manufacture of lithic artwork noted in the earlier Poverty Point cultureThe TchulaTchefuncte Early Woodland culture appears to have coexisted with some Middle Woodland cultures in the lower The pottery of this period appears to have been relatively crude and undecorated The pottery is distinctive in being thick poorly fired and covered on the inside and outside by cord marking This cord marking was probably the result of construction techniques in which clay was formed around a basket or bag before firing Not all Early Woodland sites had pottery and some researchers suggest that it was used only for part of the year perhaps during the processing of acorns or other nuts
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