Hampson Museum contains a remarkable collection of late Mississippian pottery.
Archeology connects us with prehistory, and Arkansas archeology connects us with the past nuances of this region. Historical artifacts are a tangible link to past cultures, and specific to Arkansas are historical artifacts that highlight the works of prehistoric American Indians. These inanimate objects are brought to life when park interpreters and exhibits reveal connections between our lives and those in the past. Five Arkansas state parks, including two in partnership with the Arkansas Archeological Survey, serve as portals to the past.
The James K. Hampson Collection presents an amazing look at the historical artifacts and decorative arts of the late Mississippian people from the Nodena Site. Notable pieces include a large collection of the famed "Nodena Red and White" pottery, Nodena type site points, and a variety of effigy vessels, including a remarkable human head effigy, one of only three unearthed at 1,000-year old prehistoric American Indian village sites located in what is today Mississippi County in northeast Arkansas.
Established in 1815 on the banks of the Black River, this important frontier town housed the Arkansas Territory's first post office, courthouse, and land office. When bypassed by the Southwest Trail, stretching from St. Louis to Mexico, the town of Davidsonville began to fade, and was virtually unoccupied by the 1830s. Because there has since been little disturbance, archeologists have recently uncovered the town three inches below ground. Rich with historical artifacts, archeological finds include corners of buildings, streets, and a volume of artifacts relating to Arkansas Native Americans, which are currently at the University of Arkansas being catalogued and preserved.
Historic Washington is a restored 19th-century town. From its establishment in 1824, Washington, Arkansas, was an important stop on the rugged Southwest Trail to Texas. James Bowie, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett all traveled through Washington at various times. James Black, a local blacksmith, is credited with creating the legendary Bowie Knife here. Washington served as the Confederate capitol of Arkansas from 1863-1865. Arkansas Archeology conducted here has led to specific restoration designs and practices, especially in the restoration of the Sanders' home and outbuildings, and interpretation of the Abraham Block Home.
A 17-acre, Mississippian Period Native American village thrived here from A.D. 1000 to 1550. A large platform mound on the riverbank remains, and archeologists continue their discoveries below ground. Many scholars believe the Parkin site is the Native American village of Casqui, visited by Hernando de Soto in 1541, and written about in his chronicles. Arkansas State Parks and the Arkansas Archeological Survey jointly manage this National Historic Landmark. Visitors can watch research on Arkansas archeology in the lab. With exhibits, programs, site tours, and art, you can see firsthand the results of careful excavations and laboratory analysis and learn more about American Indians.
Archeologists tell us that over 10,000 years ago American Indians began coming to the top of Petit Jean Mountain. Little remains of their visits here, little other than their mysterious rock art. In Rock House Cave you can see these images. Some resemble deer, some resemble paddlefish; most mean little to us these thousands of years later, but all had meaning to those ancient people who made them.
Arkansas's tallest remaining prehistoric American Indian mounds are preserved at this National Historic Landmark site located just 20 minutes east of Little Rock. These earthworks are the remains of a large ceremonial complex that was inhabited here from A.D. 650 to 1050 and are rich with historical artifacts from ancestors of the American Indians. The Toltec site is managed by Arkansas State Parks, and serves as a research station for the Arkansas Archeological Survey. Tour the visitor center and see exhibits and audiovisual programs. Then, take a walking tour of the mound site.