Research Programs: Collaborative Research

Period of Performance

7/1/2009 - 6/30/2013

Funding Totals

$240,000.00 (approved)
$240,000.00 (awarded)

American Indian Art, Ritual, and Social Interaction in the Central Arkansas River Valley

FAIN: RZ-51028-09

Arkansas Archeological Survey (Fayetteville, AR 72704-5590)
George Sabo (Project Director: November 2008 to May 2016)

Archaeological investigation of settlement sites in the central Arkansas River valley to shed light on materials looted during the last two centuries from Native American burial sites. (36 months)

The Carden Bottoms locality in Arkansas is well known for exquisitely decorated artifacts (ca. A.D. 1400-1700) preserved in museums across the country. Artifact designs reflect styles originating at the world-famous Cahokia site and represented at the Spiro Mounds site along the Arkansas River. Yet we know little about the people who produced these extraordinary materials. This project will employ remote sensing technologies to locate preserved cultural features at known archeological sites. Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw Indians will join Arkansas Archeological Survey archeologists in the excavation of those features to generate new information concerning the occupational history of the region and to provide better contextual information for studying the existing museum collections. Analysis of the resulting data will examine the role of art and ritual in the expression of community identity and regional social interaction.

Associated Products

Cosmological Landscapes and Exotic Gods: American Indian Rock Art in Arkansas (Article)
Title: Cosmological Landscapes and Exotic Gods: American Indian Rock Art in Arkansas
Author: George Sabo, III, Jerry E. Hilliard and Leslie C. Walker
Abstract: American Indian rock art is distributed across a portion of the east-flowing Arkansas River Valley in a distinctive spatial pattern in which motifs and compositions referencing spirit world subject matter predominate along the north side of the river, in contrast to imagery depicting the observable world on the south. This pattern accords with cosmological components of the belief systems of Dhegiha Siouan-speaking tribes, as expressed in the spatial elements of other cultural phenomena, including village layouts and ritual choreographies, among such groups as the Osage and Quapaw, who occupied the region during later historic times. One sandstone prominence also located south of the river attracted the attention of Precolumbian artists, who decorated its exposed surfaces with an intriguing depiction of a mask, partly obscured by lichen, exhibiting the telltale eyes and other characteristics of theMesoamerican rain god Tlaloc. Examination of this image, along with a second possible Mesoamerican- or Southwestern-inspired image located north of the river, serves to enlarge our understanding of the wider distributional pattern, especially on the topic of how local communities incorporated exotic ideas into the fabric of their cosmological landscapes.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Link to Cosmological Landscapes and Exotic Gods: American Indian Rock Art in Arkansas in Cambridge Archaeological Journal
Access Model: Subscription
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Cambridge Archaeological Journal
Publisher: Cambridge University Press