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Arkansas Archeological Survey

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  • What is the background and history of the Arkansas Archeological Survey?

The Survey was created in 1967 by the Arkansas Legislature, and is administered as a unit of the University of Arkansas System. As a statewide organization, it is our legislated charge to "provide the citizens of Arkansas, and the nation, with maximum benefits from the sites, objects, and information available from the past." The Survey is responsible for discovering, protecting, developing, interpreting, and caring for Arkansas' prehistoric and historic archeological resources for the benefit of present and future generations, and for working with state institutions of higher learning, museums, parks, and with the public to achieve these ends. Since its inception, the Survey has earned a national and international reputation as one of the finest state archeological programs in existence.

  • How many archeological sites are there in Arkansas?

There are currently more than 43,097 known sites, and nearly 5665 archeological surveys and projects statewide. All of this data is managed through the Survey's Automated Management of Archeological Site Data in Arkansas (AMASDA) computerized database. Detailed information about archeological sites and projects is made available to cultural resource managers, planners and researchers via the Internet.

  • Who uses archeological information, and why?

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires state and federal agencies using federal money to assess the effects of their projects on archeological and historic properties. To do this, state and federal agencies must determine if archeological and historic properties exist within their project right-of-ways and consult with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) in the Department of Arkansas Heritage in Little Rock. The AHPP has access to the Arkansas Archeological Survey's databases via the Internet through which they are able to utilize the cultural resource site and project data, as well as the Survey's geographic information system (GIS) to perform the required spatial comparisons and assessments to make essential land management decisions. Other agencies that benefit from the Survey's integrated data management system include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. National Park Service, USDA National Forest Service, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, as well as researchers at university campuses both within and outside of the State of Arkansas.

  • What is the connection between the Arkansas Archeological Survey and universities within the State of Arkansas?

At the heart of the Survey are eleven research stations located across the State. Staffed by Ph.D.-level archeologists, these stations are located on the campuses of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, University of Arkansas-Monticello, Arkansas State University, Henderson State University, Southern Arkansas University, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, Parkin Archeological State Park, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute Research Center, and at the Blytheville Aeroplex. Each university-based station archeologist is responsible for research and public service in a section of the state, and they also contribute a portion of their time to their host institution. They commonly teach two courses in anthropology or related subjects, and may also work in the host university's museum. The archeologists at the state parks are responsible for research, as well as interpreting the prehistory and history of their park.

  • How can I get involved in Arkansas archeology?

You can get involved in Arkansas archeology by joining the Arkansas Archeological Society. The Society was formed in 1960 to draw together all those interested in the prehistory and early history of Arkansas. Recognized as one of the nation's best public archeology programs, the Society has chapters in various parts of the State, holds annual statewide meetings, and publishes a semi-monthly newsletter. Society members can also take part in training programs that consist of Survey-sponsored archeological excavations, as well as formal classes and lectures taught by professional archeologists.

  • Does the Survey ever do archeology on a contract basis?

Yes. The Sponsored Research Program (SRP) is a branch of the Survey that conducts or administers archeological research through contracts and grants. Federal and state agencies contract directly with SRP to provide archeological services so they can comply with federal and state laws.

  • Are there laws protecting archeological sites?

Yes. Act 58 of 1967, Arkansas' State Antiquity Act, protects sites on State land and contains a legal precedent-setting provision requiring permission from both the private landowner and the Arkansas Archeological Survey in order to excavate Survey-designated sites located on private property. In addition, Act 753 of 1991 protects all unmarked graves in the State. Archeologists must apply to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) for permission to excavate a grave, and the application must show evidence of consultation with the appropriate Native American group when applicable. Unmarked graves can not be excavated under any other circumstances. The full text of these laws are posted on this website.

  • Does the Arkansas Archeological Survey provide any public service or public education programs?

Yes. The Survey provides information of archeological and historical interest through a wide variety of printed materials and on the World Wide Web. The Survey works in cooperation with the Arkansas Archeological Society during the annual Arkansas Archeology Month, Society Training Program, and at the Arkansas State Fair. Staff members from the Coordinating Office and Research Stations also provide talks to school classes, civic organizations, historical societies, and others. You can find out more about our Education Program through this Website.

  • Are there any Indian tribes still living in Arkansas?

No. There are no recognized Indian tribes living in Arkansas today. There are, however, over 12,000 Indians and many others with some Indian ancestry who reside as private citizens in Arkansas. The Arkansas Archeological Survey works closely and regularly consults with the indigenous tribes of Arkansas. These include the Quapaw, Caddo and Osage in Oklahoma and the Tunica in Louisiana.

  • How can I get more information about the Arkansas Archeological Survey, the Arkansas Archeological Society, and public outreach and education programs?

The Arkansas Archeological Survey maintains this World Wide Web site (www.arkansasarcheology.org), and the Arkansas Archeological Society has its Web site at www.arkarch.org. The Survey Coordinating Office can be reached by phone at 479-575-3556.

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