Archeological Investigations at Arkansas City, Kansas

Editor(s): Robert J. Hoard

Year: 2012


In 1994, the Archeology Office of the Kansas Historical Society (KSHS) initiated excavations to mitigate the impact to eight recorded archaeological sites—Larcom-Haggard, 14CO1; Arkansas City Country Club, 14CO3; Schrope, 14CO331; Havelock, 14CO332; Living the Dream, 14CO382; Radio Lane, 14CO385; Killdeer, 14CO501; and Thompson Gardens, 14CO1509—in the path of the proposed Arkansas City Bypass and Levee Project. The project area is situated on the floor and adjacent uplands of the Walnut River valley east of the City of Arkansas City in southern Cowley County. In the end, over 600 subsurface pit features were excavated, along with numerous features of other types.

Four components are represented at the sites: the Late Archaic, Woodland, Great Bend aspect, and historic period. Only the Great Bend aspect component produced substantial information, the analysis of the other components does not go beyond documenting the location and nature of the recovered material culture.

This report describes the environmental setting of the lower Walnut River valley and its confluence with the Arkansas River at Arkansas City, Kansas, including a summary of the geomorphology of the Lower Walnut drainage. It also includes a discussion of the cultural historical sequence of south-central Kansas up to and including Wichita history and tribal movements. The report emphasizes accounts of archeological research on the Great Bend aspect in Kansas and surrounding areas, providing background for the current analysis. Excavation and analytical techniques are presented, including feature descriptions, sampling strategies, and an analysis of radiocarbon and archaeomagnetic dates. The chronometric analysis shows that the Great Bend aspect component was present in the region minimally between 1350 and 1700 of the Common Era (CE).

Great Bend aspect subsistence is explored through analysis of plant and animal remains. Terrestrial fauna, especially bison, were the most commonly exploited animal resources, riverine resources were largely ignored. Plant remains indicate the cultivation of maize, squash, beans, tobacco, and a variety of native domesticates, though the latter species clearly were being de-emphasized at this locality, eclipsed by the strong role of maize. Analysis of stone tools and ceramics demonstrates very little technological or stylistic change through the period of Great Bend aspect component. Trading patterns are evaluated through the analysis of non-local materials. The Great Bend aspect occupants of the project locality, part of the Lower Walnut focus, traded primarily with non-Great Bend aspect groups to the southwest, south-southeast, and east. Trade between Great Bend aspect localities was not strong, indicating that a free flow of people and goods between different Great Bend foci was unlikely.

The investigation of Great Bend aspect components at these eight sites gives us a comprehensive view of this important time period, confirming some earlier thinking and giving rise to more detailed information on how these people carried out their lives.

Cite this Record

Archeological Investigations at Arkansas City, Kansas. Robert J. Hoard. Kansas Historical Society Contract Archeology Publications ,26. Topeka, KS: Kansas Historical Society. 2012 ( tDAR id: 379247) ; doi:10.6067/XCV81Z43V0

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1400 to 1700

Spatial Coverage

min long: -97.027; min lat: 37.074 ; max long: -97.007; max lat: 37.096 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Robert J. Hoard


General Note: This is the final project report, which supersedes all previous chapter submissions.

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
arkansascityreport.pdf 76.29mb Dec 13, 2012 4:01:28 PM Public