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 anthropology courses in the Henderson State University Department of Sociology, Human Services/Social Work, and Criminal Justice and 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 Staion archeologist 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 provides internship opportunities for students in HSU's museum studies program. 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 edited a new book, Research, Preservation, Communication: Honoring Thomas J. Green on his Retirement from the Arkansas Archeological Survey, published in 2016 by the Arkansas Archeological Survey. This collection features recent archeological work from contexts across North America ranging from Paleoindian caches to World War II prisoner of war camps, and highlights collaborations between professional, descendant groups, and the public.
- 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 the Caddo Center. For more information, contact Dr. Trubitt.
Teaching and Mentoring
- Students at Henderson State University can take courses in anthropology and archeology that can lead to a minor in Anthropology or may be applied to a minor in Museum Studies 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 for anthropology courses on Canvas.
- Dr. Trubitt teaches several Anthropology courses in HSU’s Department of Sociology, Human Services/Social Work, and Criminal Justice:
- ANT 4053 - SOC 4063 - ANT 5053, "World Cultures"
- ANT 3043, "North American Indians"
- 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 2018-2019, the Survey’s Henderson State Research Station advised the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. Arkansas State parks, National Park Service, and the Nature Conservancy 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 Clark County Historical Association, the Hot Springs County Historical Society, and the Arkansas Master Naturalists.
- 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.
- Dr. Trubitt serves as editor for Southeastern Archaeology the official journal of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, through 2020. She is past-president of the Caddo Conference Organization, a group established to promote interest in and knowledge of the archeology, history and ethnology of the Caddo area and the Caddo Indians. She and Dr. Doug Heffington (Geography) were co-organizers of the 2018 South Central Historical Archaeology Conference, held at HSU.
Mary Beth D. Trubitt, Ph.D.
Arkansas Archeological Survey
HSU Box 7841
1100 Henderson St.
Arkadelphia, AR 71999-0001
Tommie N. Cotton, MSc.
The HSU Research Station is located in Huneycutt House and the Caddo Center.