Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology (PhD)

Degree Level





George Sabo

Committee Member

Kirstin Erickson

Second Committee Member

Ann Early

Third Committee Member

Jamie Brandon


Archaeological Ceramics, Arkansas, Indian Pottery, Protohistoric, Rock Art, Southeastern Archaeology


For nearly a century, ceramic vessels looted from Protohistoric Native American Graves in the Central Arkansas River Valley have raised questions about the ethnic identity of the inhabitants of the region and their relationship to their neighbors in time and space. This analysis combines careful documentation of 1198 of these vessels with excavated sherds and other data from the Carden Bottoms site (3YE0025) and adjacent rock art sites in the Arkansas River Valley to provide a context for these vessels and, in so doing, defines the Dardenne Style of artistic production. Comparing motifs, and the manner in which they are applied to the whole vessels in the assemblage, to other earlier and contemporary assemblages suggests a shift in the way potters chose to place the same motif on vessels across two hundred years. Motifs that were limited to placement on the sides of vessels, around the body, or in non-ceramic media, were depicted in superior and inferior views on pottery vessels from this region in the Protohistoric period. This change in pottery decoration, especially the differential use of the same motif through time and on different artistic media, demonstrates the agency of objects and images within the process of cultural change during the turbulent Protohistoric period. The stylistic picture of the ceramics from this region are examined using structuration theory and Alfred Gell's anthropological theory of art to reveal how changes in sociocultural structure, precipitated in this case by the unforeseen events of the Protohistoric period, are reflected in and perpetuated through material culture. Based on the findings of this analysis, it appears that the inhabitants of Carden Bottoms and contemporary sites in the Arkansas Valley responded to the dramatic events of the Protohistoric period through adaptations and responses that drew from known principles of their recent past which were manifested through the images and objects they created and used in the everyday practice of their changing world.