For many years there has been some minor research investigating the two Native American mounds on the LSU campus, Mound A to the north, and Mound B to the south. Early research included coring and minor excavations around the margins of the mounds, required when LSU built small brick walls to prevent people from driving their cars over the mounds, something that occasionally happened until a student was run over in 1984 and killed while sunbathing on Mound A. These remedial excavations found very few artifacts and charcoal dates produced calibrated ages in the 5-6,000 BP range. Results from the cores were generally inconclusive, although it was determined that the two mounds were built from very different sediment sources.
During the last 10 years, our group has employed a number of geophysical imaging techniques, including electrical resistivity, cesium vapor magnetometer gradiometer, and ground penetrating radar measurements to investigate these mounds, and a large magnetic anomaly found on Mound A led to a proposal to take a core from both mounds in 2009, and to an excavation over the Mound A anomaly in 2012. Class projects in Geoarchaeology continued to study the mounds over the years, and in 2018, while the class was running, permission was granted to excavate on the top of Mound B. It was during this excavation that in-depth analysis of the 2009 cores from the mounds discovered ash beds containing burned bone in these cores, and these were then dated. Dates from the lower parts of each core produced a mean 14C calibrated age of ~9,000 BP (N=8). This date makes the LSU mounds the oldest man-made structure that is still in existence in the Western Hemisphere, and some of the oldest structures on Earth. In the upper parts of each core, a mean calibrated age of ~6,000 BP (N=5) was determined, indicating a two-phase mound building event. The methods used and the results of this research will be reported.
Dr. Brooks Ellwood is the Chair of the L.S.U. Department of Geology and Geophysics. Dr. Ellwood received his B.S. in Geology from Florida State University in 1970, his M.S. in Geological Oceanography form the University of Rhode Island in 1974, and his Ph.D. in Geophysics from Ohio State University in 1976. Dr. Ellwood held Assistant and Associate Professorships at the University of Georgia between 1977 and 1983, and Associate and Full Professorships at University of Texas at Arlington (U.T.A.) between 1983 and 1988. He was Acting Chair of the Department of Geology at U.T.A. between 1989 and 1992. Dr. Ellwood joined the faculty at L.S.U. as a Professor of Geology and an Adjunct Professor of Geography and Anthropology.
Dr. Ellwood’s interests are the relatively new applications in stratigraphy that allow regional and global correlation using paleoclimate proxies. Tied to biostratigraphic and geochemical data sets, magnetostratigraphy susceptibility can be used for high-resolution correlation and interpretation of marine sedimentary sequences from around the world. Published and active research includes samples throughout the Phanerozoic from a number of sites from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.