Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology (PhD)

Degree Level





George Sabo

Committee Member

Ann M. Early

Second Committee Member

William F. Limp


Archaeometry, Arkansas Indians, Native Americans, Protohistoric


In the Central Arkansas River Valley, archaeological investigations of the protohistoric occupation in the Carden Bottoms locality of Yell County, Arkansas suggest the interaction of groups from three adjoining regions at the site (the Central Mississippi Valley, the Lower

Arkansas River Valley, and the Middle Ouachita region). Until now, the analysis of whole ceramic vessels associated with the site (derived from looted contexts) constituted the strongest evidence of this process, but this analysis was based on stylistic cues and macroscopic examination of pastes to discriminate between local and nonlocal wares. This project employed instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) as an important crosscheck of these assumptions and found that some wares previously identified as evidence of trade with Caddo communities from the Middle Ouachita region of southwest Arkansas may have been produced locally by Caddo potters residing at the site. Other results from INAA support some exchange relationships with communities farther downstream on the Arkansas River. In combination with findings obtained from large-scale excavations and other research undertaken during the larger Central Arkansas River Valley project, I suggest that the Carden Bottoms community may be an early example of societal coalescence in which several formerly distinct groups came together during times of regional instability precipitated by the De Soto entrada, the dissolution of nucleated chiefdoms in northeast Arkansas, and severe drought associated with the Little Ice

Age. Most other examples of coalescence in southeastern North America are known from colonial contexts. These combined results shed new light on the process of social interaction, integration, and the projection of social identity in the Central Arkansas River Valley and have broader implications for research throughout the protohistoric Southeast.