Arkansas Archaeology: Essays in Honor of Dan and Phyllis Morse

By Koldehoff, Brad | Plains Anthropologist, May 2001 | Go to article overview

Arkansas Archaeology: Essays in Honor of Dan and Phyllis Morse


Koldehoff, Brad, Plains Anthropologist


Arkansas Archaeology: Essays in Honor of Dan and Phyllis Morse. Edited by ROBERT C. MAINFORT JR. and MARVIN D. JETER. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 1999. xiii + 344 pp., figures, tables, references cited, index. $22.00 (paper, ISBN 1-55728-571-3).

The ten essays in this volume were assembled to mark the retirement of Dan and Phyllis Morse and, more important, to highlight and honor their long and productive careers in archaeology. While largely dealing with sites and data sets from Arkansas, the chapters in this volume present interpretations and insights that well exceed the bounds of Arkansas archaeology. The same can be said of the Morses. While they are identified with Arkansas archaeology, because of their thirty years of work in that state with the Arkansas Archaeological Survey, their well-documented investigations have cast new light on nearly all time periods in the Mississippi Valley, from Dalton culture to the de Soto expedition. Their findings have contributed to both national and international syntheses, placing Arkansas and the Mississippi Valley squarely in the fore of archaeological research.

In Chapter 1, Mary L. Kwas provides an overview of the careers of Dan and Phyllis Morse, a sixpage selected bibliography of their publications, and a series of short commentaries by the Morses' colleagues. These commentaries spotlight some of the significant archaeological discoveries made by the Morses, but they also provide personal anecdotes. For example, the editors of this volume-- Bob Mainfort and Marvin Jeter-recount Dan and Phyllis's hospitality, encouragement, and assistance when the editors were rookies. (From personal experience, I know that these are not isolated incidents.)

Paul A. Delcourt, Hazel R. Delcourt, and Roger T. Saucier in Chapter 2, provide an integrated picture of vegetation and landform evolution in the Central Mississippi Valley. Synthesizing decades of pollen (P. A. Delcourt and H. R. Delcourt) and geomorphological (Saucier) research, the authors literally map the major environmental shifts in the valley, starting at 18,000 B. P. and ending at 1,000 B.P. This authoritative summary will undoubtedly become a standard reference for researchers up and down the Mississippi Valley. In Chapter 3, Marvin D. Jeter and Ann M. Early provide an excellent summation of the archaeology of the Saline River, a major tributary of the Ouachita River that stretches from southeast to central Arkansas. One of the important points they make is that the modern-day partitioning of the Saline Basin into three different Arkansas Archaeological survey research stations has had a "marginalizing effect" because "the major research attention in each station territory has been directed elsewhere" (p. 32). Here Jeter and Early make a great stride toward reuniting and highlighting the archaeological resources of the Saline Basin. Such efforts are sorely needed in most states, and boundaries between states represent even more formidable arbitrary fault lines.

David G. Anderson, in Chapter 4, summarizes a large-scale survey of the L'Anguille River basin in northeast Arkansas funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Flowing along the west side of Crowley's Ridge in the Mississippi Valley, the L'Anguille Basin contains ample evidence of prehistoric utilization, especially during the Dalton and Archaic periods. Anderson should be commended for publishing this summary, for as he notes, cultural resource management (CRM) reports with their limited distribution often contain significant information that is essentially unavailable to researchers unless principal investigators publish their results.

In Chapter 5, J. Christopher Gillam, employing a Geographic Information System, examines Paleoindian settlement patterns in northeast Arkansas. His recognition and interpretation of regional patterns are similar to those he presents in at least two other recent publications. His findings generally support Dan Morse's earlier interpretations of Dalton land-use patterns. …

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