Exploration and Archaeology

Entry Category: Exploration and Archaeology

Archaic Period

The Archaic Period refers to the time between 9500 and 650 BC in the Native American history of Arkansas. As was the case in other regions in North America, Arkansas’s Archaic Period was a long span of cultural development and innovation that transformed small-scale Paleoindian groups into the larger and more complex societies seen during the Woodland and Mississippian periods. Within the Archaic Period, archaeologists have identified more specific regional cultures, such as the Dalton, San Patrice, Tom’s Brook, Big Creek, and Poverty Point cultures. These do not correspond directly to the tribes that lived in Arkansas during the Archaic period but do show that Native American societies were adapting to different environments and to each other across Arkansas in …

Arkansas Archeological Survey

In 1967, the Arkansas legislature created the Arkansas Archeological Survey (Act 39), the first statewide coordinated archaeological research and public service organization in the country. The survey’s mission is to study and protect archaeological sites (both prehistoric and historic) in Arkansas, to preserve and manage information about those sites, and to communicate that information to the people of Arkansas. This interest in Arkansas’s archaeological past originated from Representative John Bethel, who had a life-long interest in archaeology, particularly around his Des Arc (Prairie County) home. In 1959, he had also sponsored the creation of an archaeological laboratory at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), but no funds were forthcoming from the legislature at that time. At this same 1959 …

Barraque, Antoine

Antoine Barraque established the settlement called New Gascony, one of the earliest settlements in what is now Jefferson County. He also served as a government agent with the Quapaw, whom he guided to Louisiana in 1826 after the treaty of 1824, although his efforts to ease their transition to a new land were frustrated by other government officials. Antoine Barraque was born on April 15, 1773, in southwestern France. He was educated in Paris and served in the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte, fighting at the battles of Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Lodi, and Moscow. Following the end of Napoleon’s empire, Barraque relocated to Arkansas, arriving in 1816 at the age of forty-three. Living first at Arkansas Post, Barraque formed friendships …

Battle Mound Site

The Battle Mound site is a Caddo site located along the Red River in Lafayette County. The Red River landscape is an ecologically diverse region with numerous channel scars, oxbow lakes, and back swamps. With agriculturally productive soil deposits and a web of linked navigable waterways, the region has numerous prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, many being sites left by the ancestors of the Caddo Indians who lived in this area from at least as early as circa AD 900 and as late as the early nineteenth century. The most prominent feature at Battle Mound is a large north-south-aligned earthen mound with at least three platforms. The mound is the largest in the Caddo area and one of the largest …

Bossu, Jean Bernard

Jean Bernard Bossu was a French captain and adventurer who explored the region of the Mississippi River while Louisiana was a French colony. During his voyages, Bossu wrote extensive letters about his adventures among the natives of the Mississippi River Valley. The letters were published in two volumes, and both were translated into English. Influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s image of the “noble savage,” Bossu claimed that the Quapaw Indians were “capable of heroism, humanism, and virtue”; these people were not “barbarians” or “savages” but actual human beings. Although scholars have pointed out some inconsistencies and historical inaccuracies in his letters, the letters remain an important primary source on the early period of the history of French Louisiana. His work is …

Civil War Archaeology

Since the late twentieth century, Civil War archaeology has been a thriving research area. Arkansas has been a location of much interest and continues to attract attention for work being done around the state. Federal and state agencies, along with private firms, have been part of this process. Their work focuses on several types of sites, including battlefields, camps, and civilian locations. BattlefieldsBattlefields get the most attention, as they are the Civil War sites people think of most commonly. For many years, archaeologists thought it was impossible to study battlefields because of their large size and the thin scattering of artifacts. Then, in 1983, a brush fire burned across the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana, exposing the ground surface and …

Crenshaw Site

The Crenshaw Site was a large village and ceremonial center occupied from about AD 700 to 1400 along the Red River in Miller County in southwestern Arkansas; the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The large size of the site (estimated at approximately eighty acres), along with limited archaeological investigations, hampers reconstruction of the site’s cultural history. The prevailing archaeological interpretation of the site is that it was first occupied by the Fourche Maline culture (AD 700–900) and developed into a significant village. Numerous earthworks were constructed, including at least four (and perhaps six) mounds and a raised causeway that connected two of the larger mounds. Evidence for a sizeable population includes a midden deposit (soil …

Curtiss, Edwin

Edwin Curtiss, a nonprofessional field man who excavated archaeological sites and collected antiquities, is credited by Arkansas archaeologists with making the first scientific archaeological excavation in their state. In 1879 and 1880, Curtiss and his associates spent eighty-six days excavating at ancient Native American village sites along the St. Francis River in northeast Arkansas, where he collected nearly 1,000 pottery vessels and hundreds of other specimens for Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnography. Edwin Curtiss was born on January 27, 1830, in North Lansing, New York. Originally a tailor by trade, Curtiss served in the Union army during the Civil War, subsequently moving with his family to Tennessee. After the war, Curtiss worked as an independent contractor …

Dalton Period

The Dalton Period extends from 10,500 to 9,900 radiocarbon years ago (circa 8500 to 7900 BC), during which there existed a culture of ancient Native American hunter-gatherers (referred to as the Dalton people) who made a distinctive set of stone tools that are today found at sites across the middle of the United States. The name “Dalton” was first used in 1948 to refer to a style of chipped stone projectile point/knife. The Dalton point was named after Judge Sidna Poage Dalton, who had found numerous Dalton sites in central Missouri. Evidence of the Dalton culture has been found throughout the Mississippi River Valley. As Dalton points were found in different regions of the mid-continent, they were given different names, …

De Soto Expedition, Route of the

When the Spanish expedition of Hernando de Soto crossed the Mississippi River on June 28, 1541 (June 18 on the Julian calendar, which was used at the time), it entered what is now Arkansas. It spent the next eleven months roaming around the state until de Soto’s death on May 31, 1542 (May 21 on the Julian calendar). After his death, the survivors made their way to Mexico. There have been many attempts to identify the expedition’s route through Arkansas, using information from the four written accounts of the expedition. Three of these were written by men who had accompanied the expedition, and the fourth was authored forty or fifty years later, based on interviews with survivors. The route reconstructions …

de Soto, Hernando

Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who led an expedition into the southern United States. He and his soldiers were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Arkansas. Four written accounts of the expedition provide details about his trek through the state. De Soto was born in the Extremadura region of western Spain around 1500, but the exact date is uncertain. He probably was born in the town of Jerez de los Caballeros. The second son of Francisco Méndez de Soto and Leonor Arias Tinoco, he had at least two younger sisters and an older brother. Although the family was of noble heritage, de Soto was poor and borrowed money to travel to the New World …

de Tonti, Henri

aka: Henry de Tonty
Henri de Tonti helped establish the first permanent European settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley in 1686. It was called the Poste aux Arkansas, or Arkansas Post (Arkansas County). As a result, de Tonti is often called the “father of Arkansas.” Although Italian by birth, de Tonti is associated with French exploration. He received notoriety as an explorer in the Great Lakes Region and Mississippi River Valley with his friend, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, at a time when the French were establishing trade monopolies in parts of North America to compete with the English and Spanish. Henri de Tonti was born around 1649 near Gaeta, Italy, to Lorenzo de Tonti and Isabelle di Lietto. The family moved …

Dellinger, Samuel Claudius

Samuel Claudius Dellinger was curator of the University of Arkansas Museum in Fayetteville (Washington County) and head of the Department of Zoology for over thirty years. As curator, he built the museum’s archaeology collection into one of the best in the nation. In Dellinger’s view, the museum was, first and foremost, an educational resource for the people of Arkansas, and he worked to generate interest in it from the university community and the general public. Samuel Dellinger was born on January 14, 1892, in Iron Station (later Lincolntown), North Carolina, to Robert H. and Laura Loftin Dellinger. After graduating from high school, Dellinger attended Trinity College (later Duke University), where he was a varsity wrestler and swimmer. Dellinger earned his …

Eaker Site

The Eaker Site is a large, prehistoric archaeological site located near Blytheville (Mississippi County) on land that was formerly Eaker Air Force Base. The site is named after the base. The Eaker Site is considered the largest and most intact Late Mississippian Nodena site in the Central Mississippi Valley. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Archaeologists use the term “Nodena” to describe the Native American way of life along the Mississippi River that the Eaker Site represents. The site is believed to have been a Nodena-Phase town, with sturdy permanent houses, a defensive wall and ditch, and a mound. Native Americans built the structures at the Eaker …

Filhiol, Don Juan

aka: Jean de Filhiol
aka: Baptiste Filhiol
aka: Jean Baptiste Filhiol
Present-day Camden (Ouachita County) has its origins in a 1782 settlement established by Don Juan Filhiol, a Frenchman who served the Spanish colony of Louisiana. Ecore a Fabri, as Camden was originally known, was Filhiol’s first established settlement in the Ouachita District, which encompassed today’s southern Arkansas and northeastern Louisiana. Filhiol is credited with introducing the rule of law to the Ouachita River area in Arkansas and Louisiana. Don Juan Filhiol was born Jean Baptiste Filhiol on September 21, 1740, in Eymet, France, to François Filhiol and Anne Marie Teyssonniere, who were cloth merchants and Calvinists. In 1763, at the age of twenty-three, Filhiol left France to seek his fortune in Santo Domingo, a French colony (present-day Haiti). He decided …

Freeman and Custis Red River Expedition

aka: Freeman Red River Expedition
aka: The Grand Excursion
Perhaps the most forgotten expedition to explore the southwest territory of the Louisiana Purchase was the ill-fated 1806 journey by Thomas Freeman and Peter Custis, initially labeled “The Great Excursion” by President Thomas Jefferson, who wanted the endeavor to chart and explore both the Red and Arkansas rivers. In the end, Freeman and Custis were tasked to ascend the Red River in search of its headwaters, along the way documenting coordinates, climate, and ecological findings. The expedition would pass through the southwest corner of what would become Arkansas and its borders with Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. In selecting a civilian leader, the president designated Thomas Freeman, a 1784 Irish immigrant and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, surveyor. Although he had no field experience, …

French Explorers and Settlers

The French settlers’ experience in colonial Arkansas was vital to the history of the French presence in the Mississippi River Valley. The French settlers at Arkansas Post forged alliances and cohabited with the “Arkansas” Indians (Quapaw), the native inhabitants of what became Arkansas, who were known for their consistent loyalty to the French. Father Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit, and Louis Joliet, a trader, were the first Frenchmen to set foot in the Arkansas land, in 1673. They found four Quapaw villages: Kappa, Tongigna, Tourima, and Osotouy. Immediately, the two peoples entered into an alliance. Because they feared a potential alliance between the French and their rivals, the Tunica and the Yazoo, the Quapaw convinced the French to end their trip …

Hampson, James Kelly

One of the few amateur archaeologists to be honored with an obituary in American Antiquity, Dr. James Kelly Hampson amassed an important collection of artifacts and cooperated with professional archaeologists working in northeast Arkansas. James Hampson was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 9, 1877, to Henry Clay Hampson and Mary Sue Hanaver Hampson. He had a brother who died at an early age and two sisters. In 1879, Louis Hanauer, Hampson’s maternal grandfather, purchased Nodena Plantation, a parcel of over 3,000 acres located about twelve miles south of Osceola (Mississippi County), at a court-ordered sale. The following year, Hanauer sold the property to the firm of (Daniel Lee) Ferguson and (Henry Clay) Hampson. Hampson’s father and mother lived at …

Harrington, M. R.

aka: Mark Raymond Harrington
Mark Raymond Harrington was a pioneer in the field of archaeology in Arkansas. He researched Native Americans in Arkansas for the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (New York). This work brought him to Arkansas between 1916 and 1923. His two books published on these investigations, Certain Caddo Sites in Arkansas (1920) and The Ozark Bluff-Dwellers (1960), have had a lasting influence on the development of archaeology in Arkansas and in the southeastern United States. M. R. Harrington was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on July 6, 1882, to Rose Martha Smith Harrington and Mark Walrod Harrington, astronomer, meteorologist, and then director of the University of Michigan’s Detroit Observatory. The family later lived in Washington DC; Seattle, Washington; and …

Head Pots

Head pots are a very rare and unique form of pre-historic Native American pottery found almost exclusively in northeast Arkansas and the adjacent bootheel region of Missouri. They are distinguished from other native North American pottery in that the entire vessel is molded into the general shape of a human head, as opposed to facial features such as eyes, nose, and mouth simply being applied to the surface of a bottle or jar form. Artistically, head pots vary from crude to remarkably lifelike representations. Most are somewhat smaller than the head of a normal adult, averaging about five to six inches in height. Head pots are associated with the Late Mississippian Period to the time of European contact, dating about …

Historical Archaeology

Archaeologists do more than study the ancient remains of Native Americans; they are also interested in the lives of the explorers, colonists, settlers, and their descendants who contributed to the more recent history of America. Even during periods when written records were kept, not everything about the past was recorded. The details of everyday life often are neglected in historical accounts, but archaeologists believe that these details contribute to a fuller understanding of the past. This more recently developed field of archaeological study is called historical archaeology, and perhaps its greatest strength is its partnership with other fields of study, including history, archival documentation, architectural studies, and folklore. When combined, these different approaches provide a richer and more complex understanding …

Hunter-Dunbar Expedition

aka: Dunbar-Hunter Expedition
The Hunter-Dunbar expedition was one of only four ventures into the Louisiana Purchase commissioned by Thomas Jefferson. Between 1804 and 1807, President Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark into the northern regions of the Purchase; Zebulon Pike into the Rocky Mountains, the southwestern areas, and two smaller forays; Thomas Freeman and Peter Custis along the Red River; and William Dunbar and Dr. George Hunter to explore the “Washita” River and “the hot springs” in what is now Arkansas and Louisiana. While the Ouachita River expedition was not as vast as and did not provide the expanse of geographic and environmental information collected by Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery, the exploration of Dunbar and Hunter remains significant for several reasons. It …

Indian Mounds

Indian Mounds were constructed by deliberately heaping soil, rock, or other materials (such as ash, shell, and the remains of burned buildings) onto natural land surfaces. In Arkansas and elsewhere in eastern North America, Native Americans built earthen mounds for ritual or burial purposes or as the location for important structures, but mound-building ceased shortly after European contact due to changes in religious and other cultural practices. Mississippian people in eastern Arkansas were using mounds when Spanish explorers arrived in 1541, and the Caddo in the Red River valley were still using mounds during the winter of 1691–92, when explorers from Mexico visited them. Most of the thousands of mounds built in Arkansas have been destroyed by modern development and …

Jean Laffite’s Espionage Mission

Jean Laffite was a well-known smuggler and privateer (considered a pirate by some) who operated in the Gulf of Mexico. A hero of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, Laffite undertook a secret espionage expedition in 1816 that traversed the Missouri Territory (later the Arkansas Territory) on behalf of the Spanish. Lafitte was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in November 1815 at the same time that his friend, architect Arsene Latour, was in town to supervise the proofing and printing of Historical Memoir of the War in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814–1815. As a Spanish agent interested in Spain’s territory north and west of the Louisiana Purchase, Latour may have been instrumental in convincing the impoverished Lafitte to join him …

Joutel, Henri

Henri Joutel was a French soldier and explorer who served in the last expedition commanded by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. Joutel kept a detailed journal of his time in North America, including his experiences in what would become Arkansas. Henri Joutel was born in Rouen, France, the hometown of La Salle, around 1643. Joutel’s father worked for La Salle’s family as a gardener. Joutel spent more than fifteen years in the French army and signed on as a member of the expedition that departed France on July 24, 1684. The third expedition organized by La Salle, it consisted of four ships and was tasked with establishing a colony along the Gulf Coast. Almost 300 soldiers and …

Koroa

The Koroa are one of many “small tribes” of the southeastern United States that are mentioned briefly in historic accounts and then fade from the records during the colonial period. There is evidence that some Koroa may have resided in present-day Arkansas in the late seventeenth century, but the ancestral homeland, cultural roots, and historic fate of the Koroa remain issues of disagreement among today’s scholars. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, numerous missionaries, explorers, and colonists traveling through the Lower Mississippi River Valley made reference to Koroa (or people whose names sounded similar, like Coloa, Kourea, Currous, Akoroa) residing in a number of locations in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. There is not enough information to locate these …

La Harpe, Jean-Baptiste Bénard de

Jean-Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe was a French officer, trader, and explorer. He was the first European explorer to record the existence of a large rocky bluff on the north bank of the Arkansas River. This major outcrop of rock is just upstream from a smaller rock, where it was possible to ford the river. It was at this location that the settlement of Little Rock (Pulaski County) subsequently developed. Jean-Baptiste de La Harpe was the second son of Pierre Besnard, Seigneur de la Harpe, and Jeanne le Breton. He was christened on February 4, 1683, in St. Malo, France, one of the couple’s twelve surviving children. His father’s family had lived in the area for nearly a century and …

La Salle, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de

In 1682, French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle journeyed down the Mississippi River in search of a water route to the Gulf of Mexico. Stopping in present-day Arkansas County at the current site of Arkansas Post National Memorial, La Salle erected a cross to designate the region “Louisiana” in honor of Louis XIV, king of France. He was one of the first European explorers to make alliances with the Native Americans of Arkansas and the first to try to establish a permanent settlement in Arkansas through his friend and fellow explorer, Henri de Tonti. La Salle was born in Rouen, France, on November 21, 1643. His parents, Catherine Gesset and Jean Cavlier, were wealthy merchants. Educated at the …

Louisiana Purchase Survey

The purchase of the vast Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 practically doubled the size of the United States, yet little of it was marked off by the American land survey method, which divides land into square tracts, an orderly prerequisite for land ownership in the nineteenth century. The survey of this vast, new American West began in what would later become the state of Arkansas and is commemorated at Louisiana Purchase State Park on U.S. Highway 49 between Brinkley (Monroe County) and Helena (Phillips County). Since Arkansas was first, the survey enabled early sale of land that contributed to Arkansas’s being the third state admitted into the Union west of the Mississippi River (after Louisiana and Missouri). The survey …

Mallet Expeditions

French-Canadian brothers Pierre (1704–1751?) and Paul Mallet (1706?–1753?) participated in three expeditions into North America’s interior that were designed to establish trade between French Louisiana and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The brothers traveled the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, and their return journeys to New Orleans led them through Arkansas, stimulating interest in the possibility of Spanish trade through the continent’s interior via Arkansas Post (Arkansas County). Originally from Montreal, the Mallets lived as traders in the Illinois country after 1734 before beginning their first expedition (1739–1741). Spurred on by contemporary belief that Santa Fe lay eight days from the headwaters of the Missouri River, the brothers ventured west. Accompanied by seven men, they traveled up the Missouri before beginning …

Marquette-Joliet Expedition

In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, and Louis Joliet, a fur trader, undertook an expedition to explore the unsettled territory in North America from the Great Lakes region to the Gulf of Mexico for the colonial power of France. Leaving with several men in two bark canoes, Marquette and Joliet entered the Mississippi River and arrived in present-day Arkansas in June 1673. They were considered the first Europeans to come into contact with the Indians of east Arkansas since Hernando de Soto’s expedition in the 1540s. The goal given Marquette, Joliet, and their men was to document, for French and Canadian officials, an area that had been largely unknown until the late seventeenth century. Both explorers were from …

Menard-Hodges Site

The Menard-Hodges Site, located in Arkansas County near Lake Dumond, is part of the Arkansas Post National Memorial. It has been widely considered to be the first location of Arkansas Post and also a location of the Quapaw village of Osotouy. Recent research indicates that the site is part of the historic eighteenth century landscape, but the precise location of the village and post have yet to be pinpointed. Archaeological research of the site has yielded many artifacts from both prehistoric and historic settlement of the region. Two large mounds and several smaller house mounds are still evident at the site, as are the locations of nineteenth-century French family farms. The location was strategically placed to take advantage of the …

Mississippian Period

The Mississippian Period is one of several broad categories (including Paleoindian, Archaic, and Woodland) that archaeologists use to subdivide the American Indian past of the Southeast and Midwest. Between AD 900 and about AD 1600, Mississippian people farmed maize extensively; lived in societies known as chiefdoms led by hereditary rulers; conducted long-distance trade in copper, marine shell, and other valuables; resided in towns, villages, and farmsteads; built monumental architecture in the form of earthen, flat-topped mounds; conducted warfare, often fortifying their towns with stockades; and shared religious and iconographic traditions. When the first Europeans (the Hernando de Soto expedition) arrived in Arkansas in 1541, the people they encountered were Mississippians. The Rise of Agriculture Perhaps fueled by a climate shift …

Moore, Clarence Bloomfield

Clarence Bloomfield Moore was an amateur archaeologist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who investigated hundreds of Native American mounds and archaeological sites in several Southern states, including Arkansas. He published lavishly illustrated volumes, based on his excavations, which have been reprinted recently. Clarence Moore was born on January 14, 1852, in Philadelphia. He was the son of Bloomfield Haines Moore and Clara Sophia Jessup. His father was the head of the prosperous Jessup & Moore Paper Company of Wilmington, Delaware. His mother was a prolific writer, mostly of books on etiquette and advice to young women. Clarence had two sisters, Ella and Lillian, both of whom married Swedish aristocrats. As a child, he was educated in Philadelphia, France, and Switzerland. He entered …

Native American Pottery

Indians in Arkansas began making pottery containers about 2,500 years ago, during the Woodland Period, and they continued this craft until their handmade containers were replaced by industrial counterparts made in metal, glass, and clay in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Broken pieces of Indian pottery, called sherds or potsherds, are among the most common artifacts remaining at abandoned settlements, and they provide a wide range of information today about the cultural traditions of the people who made them. Complete pottery vessels display both sophisticated craftsmanship and the complex aesthetics of their makers. Southeastern Indian pottery-making began in the area of eastern Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida about 4,000 years ago and spread gradually from there to cultures across eastern …

Nodena Site

The Nodena Site in Mississippi County is an archaeological site representing Native American life in Arkansas during the centuries before European contact. The twelve-to-fifteen-acre pallisaded village was inhabited from approximately AD 1400 to 1650. The name Nodena comes from a later plantation that encompassed the area, while the names Upper Nodena and Middle Nodena represent separate archaeological sites, as well as separate sectors of the later Nodena plantation. The Upper Nodena Site, the larger of the two, is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been listed as a National Historic Landmark. A vast collection of Nodena materials are held at the University of Alabama Museum and its regional repository, the Arkansas Archeological Survey, as well as at …

Nuttall, Thomas

Thomas Nuttall, a preeminent and far-ranging field naturalist, participated in the early scientific exploration of Arkansas and is remembered both for identifying a number of the state’s plants and for his description of early Arkansas life. His notes on people living in the territory—both Native Americans and American settlers—have provided valuable information for historians and researchers ever since they were first published in 1821. Thomas Nuttall was born to James Nuttall and Margaret Hardacre Nuttall on January 5, 1786, in Long Preston, Yorkshire, England. He was the oldest of three siblings; he had two sisters, Susan (Susannah) and Elizabeth. He never married and had no children. After attending the village school, Nuttall worked as a journeyman printer for his uncle …

Paleoindian Period

The term “Paleoindian” refers to a time 13,500 years ago (11,500 BC) at the end of the last ice age when the first traces of humans appeared in the archaeological record in North America. One of the first groups to enter the New World was the Clovis culture. They encountered many species of now extinct, large terrestrial animals and hunted them with spears tipped with stone points; these animals, dubbed “megafauna” because of their larger size when compared to modern forms, included the mastodon, mammoth, horse, tapir, ground sloth, giant bison, giant beaver, giant tortoise, American lion, short-faced bear, and saber-toothed tiger. The fossilized remains of many of these now extinct animals have been found in Arkansas. Early Paleoindian stone …

Palmer, Edward

Edward Palmer conducted most of the fieldwork for the first major study of Indian mounds in Arkansas. His research helped dispel myths about who built the mounds. Edward Palmer was born in England, near Hockwold-cum-Wilton in southwestern County Norfolk, into a family of gardeners. The year of his birth is uncertain, but it was probably 1830; the date was definitely January 12. His father’s name is listed variously as William or Robert, and his mother’s maiden name was Mary Ann Armiger; Palmer’s own middle name is unknown. Little is known about Palmer’s early life. He came to America in 1849 and moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he was strongly influenced by the eminent naturalist Jared Kirtland. He worked as a …

Parkin Archeological State Park

Parkin Archeological State Park in northeast Arkansas preserves and interprets a Mississippian-period Native American village that existed from approximately AD 1000 to 1550. European-made trade items from the era of Hernando de Soto’s expedition recovered at the park and written descriptions of the village support theories that the Spanish visited the Parkin Site in 1541. Many archeologists believe the site may be Casqui, mentioned prominently in the de Soto journals. Remnants of Indian villages similar to the Parkin Site were once numerous in eastern Arkansas, but soil erosion, careless digging, and farming destroyed virtually all of them during the nineteenth century. The prehistoric village on the eastern bank of the St. Francis River covered about seventeen acres and was enclosed …

Parkin Historic Site

The Parkin Historic Site is a seventeen-acre Native American village site along the St. Francis River in Cross County. Archaeological and geographical information indicates that it is probably the location of the town of Casqui mentioned in the narratives of the Hernando de Soto expedition, which passed through northeast Arkansas in the summer of 1541. In recognition of its national significance, the Parkin site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1966. The site is at the north end of Parkin and is the main focus of Parkin Archeological State Park. The Arkansas Archeological Survey established a research station at the site in 1990, and research on the …