Ancient Native American village in Louisiana reveals its secrets

An ancient Native American village in Louisiana is revealing its secrets thanks to new research.

The study of ancient mound builders who lived in the Mississippi River Delta near present-day New Orleans offers fresh insight into how the settlements emerged and why they were abandoned.

Experts studied a site known as Grand Caillou, one of hundreds of ancient mounds in coastal Louisiana that were built near waterways. Radiocarbon dating, carbon-isotope analysis, and sediment analysis were used to date the site, along with ceramics found at Grand Caillou.

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"We wanted to understand at a deeper level how Indigenous peoples of the coast were choosing where to build their villages," said University of Illinois Anthropology Professor Jayur Mehta, who conducted the study with Vanderbilt University postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Chamberlain. Both Chamberlain and Mehta were at Tulane University in New Orleans when they conducted the research.

Their findings have been published in the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology.

Ceramics discovered at the site date to between 1000 and 1400 A.D. The mound builders set up their village in 1200 A.D., according to the researchers.

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Excavations and analysis of the site reveal that the mound was built in distinct layers, with clay on the bottom, looser sediments in the middle and a clay “cap” on top. This finding confirms earlier archaeological reports that ancient mounds were constructed in layers to withstand the elements, the researchers say.

“The way they were constructed contributes to their durability,” said Mehta.

In its heyday, Grand Caillou was home to 500 people.

Radiocarbon dating of charcoal found at the site, however, reveals that it was abandoned by 1400. By examining ratios of carbon isotopes, the scientists found saltwater incursion into the area, which coincided with the village’s abandonment.

In recent years, experts have been unearthing new details of centuries-old sites in the U.S. In another project, for example, archaeologists discovered incredible evidence of a huge Wichita Indian town in Kansas that was once home to 20,000 people.

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In another recent project, archaeologists discovered an “unprecedented” 7,000-year-old Native American burial site beneath the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.

The ancient people of North America started building mounds as early as 4,500 B.C., Mehta explained.

In 2016, researchers at the Cahokia Mounds near Collinsville, Ill., released a study that sheds new light on the ancient city’s power structure.

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun contributed to this article.

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