chapter  1
34 Pages

The First American Architecture

Ceremonial Enclosures and Homes
ByLeland M. Roth, Amanda C. Roth Clark

Shaping the environment for utilitarian or symbolic ends is architecture in its broadest sense. The land that became the United States was and is rich and varied, both physically and geographically, as a result of widely varied climatological regions. There are three broad geographic zones across the continent: the eastern Atlantic area, the great central prairie and plains, and the western Pacific area. West of the Appalachians and north of the southern coastal plain is the second broad zone, the great heartland of the North American continent. In the woodlands of northern Louisiana at the end of the Archaic period around 6,500 years ago, a distinct culture emerged that began building earth mounds as ceremonial structures, grouping them to form enclosures. On roughly two thousand acres lived 30,000 people in hundreds of homes spaced around a central group of mounds defining a ceremonial plaza.