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Along with the first signs of spring, March brings Arkansas Archeology Month, a celebration of Arkansas’s past and the continuing efforts to preserve and understand the societies that came before us.
Archeology Week was first held across the state in 1991, and expanded to a full month in 2002 to include more events and raise awareness of the archeological happenings across the state. Sponsored by the Arkansas Archeological Survey and the Arkansas Archeological Society, the month offers everyone in Arkansas the opportunity to appreciate the past and a chance to become involved in preserving our history for future generations.
What is archeology?
Most of my knowledge of archeology comes from the heart-thumping adventures of everyone’s favorite archeologist, Indiana Jones, as he tracks down lost world treasures and uncovers ancient mysteries. What is archeology in real life? It’s the steady, on-going study of historic people and societies. Modern day archeologists use historical records, photographs, and artifacts to interpret the lives and events of the past and preserve them for future generations.
The Arkansas Archeological Survey maintains ten research stations across the state that are responsible for ongoing research into Arkansas’s archeological sites as well as outreach like Archaeology Month. Some of the current projects around the state include research into the identities of the Ouachita Mountains communities, the World War II camp at Monticello, the preservation of pictographs and petroglyphs at Petit Jean State Park, and on-going studies at Toltec Mounds State Park.
Who can be involved in archeology?
Each research station has a station archeologist and assistants who are responsible for the region, but there are many ways everyone can get involved in archeology. The Arkansas Archeological Society is open to everyone. The group holds training sessions for those interested in learning how to assist our state’s archeologists. In addition, each research station often has volunteer opportunities, many of them literally “hands on”. Taking advantage of one of the many programs presented across the state this month is a great first step toward becoming more involved in Arkansas archeology.
Time to grab your fedora (or perhaps just a friend or two), choose an event, and get to know Arkansas a little better this March.
Archeology Month Events across Arkansas
(This is a partial list. For a full list of events in a city near you, visit archeology.uark.edu.)
Blytheville -March 5 – Artifact Identification Day at the Delta Gateway Museum. Archeologists from the Arkansas Archeological Survey will be on site to help identify objects.
Columbus – March 21-25 – Archeology on the Prairie at the Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Center. Join in a full week of programs on Caddo Indians. Learn more and register at grandviewprairiecec.com for more information.
Fayetteville – March 17 – The University of Arkansas Museum collection will be on display and a tour of the extensive collection will be available from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
On March 26, the Fayetteville Survey Station (2475 N. Hatch Ave.) will host Celebrate Archeology Day! The program runs from 11:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. and includes demonstrations of prehistoric weapons and tools, basketry and weaving and artifact identification.
Ft. Smith – March 17 – The Archeology of Van Winkle’s Mill – Archeologist Dr. Jamie Brandon will speak on thirteen years of research and work at the sawmill site. UA-Fort Smith, Math-Science Building, room 202, 7 p.m.
Hot Springs – March 8-13 – The Arkansas Archeological Survey will host a hands on workshop on archaeology of the region. HSU Station/Oaklawn Center on Aging, 210 Woodbine St. 1-3 p.m.
Little Rock – March 26 – Pinnacle Mountain State Park – The park will have several events beginning at 10 a.m., including a flintknapping demonstration and presentations on the Trail of Tears.
Monticello – March 21-26 – Taylor House Spring Dig – The AAS will hold its annual Spring Dig at the Taylor House, also known as the Hollywood Plantation. Both volunteers and visitors are welcome at the event. Call 870-460-1290 for more information on how to participate in the dig.
On March 24, the Desha County 4-H will host Quad Day Field Experience at the plantation on historic and prehistoric lifestyles, cooking and archaeology. Families are welcome and the event is open to all. 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Parkin Archeological State Park -March 24-26 – The park will celebrate Archeology for Everyone with a mock excavation. Everyone is invited to participate and learn how archaeologists conduct digs. Registration is free. Call 870-755-2500
Petit Jean WRI Research Station – March 19 – The AAS will have a full day of activities like spear throwing, flintknapping, rock art and more. Held at the WRI Station, 1 Rockefeller Dr. on the campus of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.
Toltec Mounds State Park – March 12 – Archeolympics! Teams can compete in archaeology based games and events like spear throwing, tool making and more. Call 501-961-9442 for more information on how to participate in the games.
Links for more information on archeology in Arkansas
Arkansas Archeology Month Poster courtesy of the Arkansas Archeological Survey and used with permission.
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