Heart of Louisiana: Ice Age

Archaeologists digging in Louisiana’s Kisatchie national forest are finding artifacts from native people who were living in the area during the ice age. It’s a
Published: Jun. 25, 2023 at 9:47 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2023 at 10:33 PM CDT

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Archaeologists digging in Louisiana’s Kisatchie national forest are finding artifacts from native people who were living in the area during the ice age. It’s among the oldest known inhabitants of our state.

Researchers are digging their way through layers of history. This carefully dug hole deep in Louisiana’s Kisatchie national forest contains artifacts left here thousands of years ago by some of the earliest people to inhabit North America.

“It’s like leftover material from making tools so they would strike a rock and flake it off, and this is we’re finding basically the leftover of the things that they didn’t need to use. There’s another bigger one,” said Sarah St. German.

They sift their way through handfuls of dirt, looking for signs of ancient life.

“A little flake where somebody would’ve hit a rock to try to make it into something sharp,” said Arthur Bracey.

Arthur Bracey just graduated from high school in Pineville. He’s joining archeology students from the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

“Found a couple drills that I think are really cool,” said Gloria Church. Little stone drills that would’ve been used to make holes.”

Different layers contain artifacts from different time periods.

“They found material dating from the entire sequence of native American occupation in Louisiana so we‘re talking from 500 years ago, all the way back potentially to the ice age,” said Erlend Johnson.

Some of the more impressive artifacts are spear or dart points that are 12,000 years old.

“They found the base of a clovis point. The clovis were the first widely spread paleo Indian peoples living in the ice age,” Johnson said.

We have Natchitoches, New Orleans, a little over 300 years old. poverty point, 3,400 years old, other mounds over 6,000 years old. We’re talking ice age here. how exciting and how rare is this?

“Well, it’s pretty rare. It’s pretty rare. It’s not there are other sites around here that have this type of material as well in the forest. It gives us an opportunity to start talking about these early populations that not everybody gets. So it is certainly exciting,” Johnson said.

The archeologist found evidence of wooden posts, round darkened areas left by decaying wood.

“It may have been a village. I think there’s a little more work to do. We found the remains of what’s probably one structure,” Johnson said.

This site was discovered 20 years ago, but hurricane damage and looting led researchers to excavate and document the area. We’re not identifying where this place is for a reason because it has been targeted by looters before.

“Yes, this is probably a well known site for a lot of people who illegally excavate,” Matt Helmer said.

Looting is a federal crime punishable by stiff fines and even jail time.

“I can feel a change in the texture,” a man said.

What could something like that be?

“At this point, we’re not sure. I think we’re finding some historic material at this level,” the man added.

But the illegal diggings rob us of a chance to learn about our ancient history from a time when the very first humans lived here.

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