The Medora Site
Various Native American groups across North America constructed earth mounds at different times. The Medora Site in West Baton Rouge Parish features two earth mounds constructed by Native Americans.
The Medora Site is located in the southern-most portion of West Baton Rouge parish, in a hair-pin turn of the Mississippi called Australia Point, also known as Sardine Point. In the 1940s, archeologists studied the Medora site, extensively tracing multiple cultures and peoples to this small area.
The Medora Site is considered the most significant prehistoric site in Plaquemine, an area of West Baton Rouge Parish. The Medora Site includes two mounds separated by a plaza about 400 feet wide. Mound A was a flat-topped pyramid 13 feet high and 125 feet square at the base, located on the plaza's north end. Mound A was bordered by a large borrow pit to the north and by Bayou Bourbe to the west. Mound B was located at the south end of the plaza, and measured two feet high and 100 feet in diameter, with an irregular outline.
Medora Site Artifacts
By the mid-1700's Europeans and Native Americans were actively trading goods such as skins, grain, and produce for beads, metal tools, cooking pots, and military equipment. Artifacts discovered at the Medora Site (on loan from the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science; the majority of the pieces are at the Field Museum in Chicago, IL) include:
Decorated clay pottery shards
More than 18,000 pot shards were found, many with decorative designs. These designs were carved into the unfired clay with sticks, shells, and points. Two styles of pottery decoration have been found at the Medora site: “Anna Incise,” which is commonly found on the interior surfaces of ceramic vessels, and "Medora Incised," which features decoration on the exterior surface.
Spear and arrow points
There is no naturally-occurring stone in the West Baton Rouge area, so river pebbles of flinty stone found at the Medora site were presumably brought to Mound A from Natchez, Mississippi. The pebbles could have been used in rattles or as raw materials for the chipping of projectile points. These are made of chert – (a compact rock consisting of microcrystalline quartz and similar to flint). Again, this type of stone does not occur naturally in the West Baton Rouge area, and would have been brought in on trade routes, possibly from great distances. A particular type of arrow point used for hunting, called "Alba," dates to around 800-1200 A.D. and is similar to the arrow points the Plaquemine period Native Americans would have used at Medora. Only seven stone artifacts were recovered.
18th-century glass and ceramic beads
These beads were from the French Concession at Bayou Goula (Iberville Parish), the area where French farmers and traders were allowed to settle.
Pottery shards in a French style
The French green-glazed earthenware and blue and white tin-glazed faience (glazed earthenware or pottery, with highly colored designs.) pottery sherds are typical artifacts from Louisiana's French colonial period.