I’m happy to report that Historical Archaeology of Arkansas: A Hidden Diversity has just been published by the University of Tennessee Press. This volume is edited by my friend, former student & colleague Dr. Carl Drexler and I could not be prouder. The volume had its origins in a pair of conference symposia–one at the 2006 Society for Historical Archaeology in Sacramento, California and a second in 2010 at the Southeastern Archaeology Conference in Lexington, Kentucky.
Not only am I proud of Dr. Drexler, but the volume also contains articles by many alumni of the University of Arkansas Anthropology Department…a number of which I had the privilege to work with when I was an adjunct and/or when I was the Research Station Archeologist at SAU in Magnolia (the position that Dr. Drexler now holds). These include Eric Proebsting (Ph.D. 2006), Alicia Valentino (Ph.D. 2006), Mary Brennan (Ph.D. 2009), Duncan McKinnon (Ph.D. 2013), and David Markus (MA 2011). I also have a chapter in the volume–co-authored by Jerry Hilliard. It is entitled “Zachary Taylor & the Sisters of Mercy: An Archaeology of Memory, Landscape, Gender and Faith on Arkansas’s Western Frontier” and it describes the Spring Break excavations that Jerry & I lead in Fort Smith in 2005.
This is the first book-length, edited-volume to focus specifically on Arkansas’s historical archeology, and it contains an excellent overview (by Dr. Drexler) as well as an insightful piece by the recently-retired Dr. Leslie “Skip” Stewart-Abernathy–the first trained historical archeologist to work in the state.
Here’s what the jacket blurb says:
Arkansas’s diverse geography, spanning the Ozark Mountains, densely forested Timberlands, and Mississippi River Delta, and its complex Native American and Euro American history belie the inattentive historical treatment the Natural State has thus far received by scholars. Often disparaged as a cultural and intellectual backwater—and indeed perhaps best known for President Bill Clinton and Wal-Mart—this overly simplified image of Arkansas shadows a state rich in historic significance and the archaeological record…In nine essays that range from Civil War sites to the Ozark Mountains to the nineteenth-century Jewish community, Drexler and his contributors present an Arkansas unknown to all but those dedicated individuals working to publicize the state’s hidden diversity. The research presented herein depicts a strong state and federal commitment to documenting Arkansas’s history, perhaps unmatched by any other state in America, and the success of public archaeology through the efforts of the Arkansas Archaeological Survey. Historical Archaeology of Arkansas not only showcases the natural beauty and rich history of Arkansas, but it also serves as a primer for historical inquiry for other state and federal organizations looking to bolster their own programs.