What was life like in southwest Arkansas hundreds of years ago?
That’s the question that archeologists at Henderson State University’s Archeological Research Station are answering. Our research reveals how Caddo Indians and their ancestors lived in the Ouachita, Caddo, and Saline river valleys, and how local residents used and exchanged resources such as Arkansas Novaculite quarried from the Ouachita Mountains in the past. The Archeological Research Station serves as a research and resource center for a nine-county region of west-central Arkansas. Our archeologists assist other state agencies, maintain archeological records and collections, teach anthropology courses, and host outreach activities in the community.
Arkansas Archeological Survey
The Henderson State University Archeological Research Station is part of the Arkansas Archeological Survey. Created by the state legislature in 1967, the mission of the Arkansas Archeological Survey is to conserve and research the state's heritage and communicate this information to the public. The Arkansas Archeological Survey is administered as a unit of the University of Arkansas System. The Henderson State Research Station is one of 10 Survey research stations across the state.
The Research Station archeologist is tasked with archeological research, teaching, and public service. Dr. Mary Beth Trubitt teaches sociology courses in the Henderson State University Health, Education, and Social Sustainability learning community and anthropology courses in the Arts and Humanities learning community. She is also a research professor in University of Arkansas's Department of Anthropology.
At the Arkansas Archeological Survey’s Henderson State University Research Station, research, teaching, and service go hand-in-hand. Here are some highlights of our current activities:
- HSU Research Station archeologists curate and document Caddo pottery from Clark and Hot Spring counties in the Joint Educational Consortium’s Hodges Collection. In 2019, a permanent space was created in HSU's newly-renovated Caddo Center for exhibiting the collection and interpreting Caddo Indian history in the local area. This provided internship opportunities for HSU students (2019-2023 interns were Rae’Shawn Jones, Emma Adams, Christine Bostian, DeLainey Brown, and Andrew Powell). Interns assisted with creating new content for the “Interpreting the Hodges Collection at the Henderson State University Caddo Center” website. New articles have been published about this project in Caddo Archeology Journal.
- A new website, "Arkansas Novaculite: A Virtual Comparative Collection," highlights an important regional raw material that was used by Indians for making stone tools and is still used today for whetstones. This project was supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Trubitt’s two latest books feature results of her research on Indigenous history in the local area. Two Caddo Mound Sites in Arkansas compares Caddo communities in the Ouachita and Saline river valleys while Ouachita Mountains Archeology shows how archeologists ask and answer questions about the past. Both books were published by the Arkansas Archeological Survey.
- In 2013 and 2014, HSU Research Station archeologists, working with the Arkansas Archeological Society and the Ouachita National Forest, excavated an archeological site in Montgomery County. The project, “Identity & Community in the Ouachita Mountains” explores toolstone choice, plant domestication, social identity, and culture change between 6000 B.C. and A.D. 1650. Research on this project continues in the lab at the Henderson State University Research Station, and results have been presented in several public talks and journal publications.
- Join HSU students and volunteers from the Arkansas Archeological Society in analyzing artifacts from various research projects during our weekly Archeology Lab Days most Thursdays at Huneycutt House. For more information, contact Dr. Trubitt.
Teaching and Mentoring
- Students at Henderson State University can take courses in sociology and anthropology that can lead to a minor in Anthropology or a certificate in Forensics. Several of these courses fulfill Henderson State's nonwestern culture core requirement. Current students can find up-to-date information and course materials on Canvas.
- Dr. Trubitt teaches several Sociology and Anthropology courses at HSU:
- ANT 4053 - SOC 4063 - ANT 5053 – SOC 5063, "World Cultures"
- ANT 3043 – SOC 3543, "North American Indians"
- ANT 2013, “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology”
- ANT 2023, "Introduction to Physical Anthropology & Archeology"
- ANT 4083, "Readings & Research in Anthropology"
- ANT 3096, "Archeology Field School"
- Dr. Trubitt has mentored graduate students and served on thesis committees for students at Henderson State University and at the University of Arkansas. Some recent graduates and their thesis topics include:
- Linda Evans (M.L.A. 2012 Henderson State University), "Amateur Archeologists in the Ouachita River Valley during the Great Depression."
- James R. Duke (M.L.A. 2010 Henderson State University), "Anasazi Astronomy."
- Kristin D. Scarr (M.A. 2008 University of Arkansas, Department of Anthropology), "Trace Element Studies of the Arkansas Novaculite."
- Terri Taylor Menefee (M.L.A. 2005 Henderson State University), "Smoke Signals."
- Donald R. Bowles (M.L.A. 2003 Henderson State University), "The Native American and White America: A Saga of the Trail of Bitter Tears."
Community Outreach and Professional Service
- In 2022-2023, the Survey’s Henderson State Research Station advised the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Park Service, and the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma about archeological sites and their preservation. They answered numerous inquiries from local residents about artifacts, donations, and archeological sites. Station staff presented talks to civic groups and schools including the Arkansas Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Hot Spring Village and Hurricane Creek Elementary School in Benton.
- Research Station archeologists worked with cemetery preservation groups in Grant, Dallas and Garland counties. Dr. Trubitt has served as a humanities scholar on several Arkansas Humanities Council cemetery preservation grants, including one at Helms Cemetery in Clark County.
- Dr. Trubitt and other members of the Ouachita Chapter of the Arkansas Archeological Society obtained an Arkansas Heritage Month grant to create a children's book in 2014. Copies of What’s for Supper? Native American Foods in the Ouachita Mountains were distributed to second-grade classes in elementary schools across the region. This program was made possible in part by a grant from the Department of Arkansas Heritage.
- Dr. Trubitt assisted the City of Arkadelphia in creating several signs along the DeSoto Bluff Trail. This new walking trail features signs interpreting early Clark County history.
- Mary Beth Trubitt currently serves as the editor for Caddo Archeology Journal, published by the Caddo Conference Organization. She served as editor for Southeastern Archaeology, the official journal of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, through 2020.
Mary Beth D. Trubitt, Ph.D.
Arkansas Archeological Survey
HSU Box 7841
1100 Henderson St.
Arkadelphia, AR 71999-0001
Jason Wilhelmi, M.A.
The HSU Research Station is located in Huneycutt House (1042 Haddock St.).