The Toltec Mounds research station is located at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park in Scott. The Toltec Mounds site is a National Historic Landmark. Survey staff carry out ongoing research at the site, providing the primary resources for development of interpretive programs at the park. The Toltec Mounds site was the religious, social, and political center for people of the Plum Bayou culture of central Arkansas. Built and occupied between a.d. 650 and 1050, it is one of the largest and most complex American Indian sites in the Mississippi Valley. Archeologists who visited the site more than 100 years ago found 16 mounds inside a 5298-foot-long ditch and earthen embankment. Though many of the mounds have been plowed down or mined for fill dirt, several remain visible today, along with remnants of the embankment. Most of the mounds were square, flat-topped earthen structures built by carrying basket-loads of dirt. Several of the mounds were arranged around an open plaza and aligned according to astronomical observations. The two largest were built in stages, and stand today at 39 and 49 feet high. The site had a small permanent population of religious and political leaders and their families, but most Plum Bayou people lived in scattered villages and hamlets in the surrounding countryside, only gathering at the site for religious and community activities. The Plum Bayou people grew a variety of native domesticated crops, harvested nuts, hunted, and fished.
Elizabeth Horton (Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis, 2011) is the Survey’s Research Station Archeologist for Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, and Research Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She came to the Survey in 2010 as a postdoctoral researcher at the coordinating office, and began the position at the Toltec Mounds research station in July 2011. Horton’s doctoral research focused on Pre-Columbian fabric technology and plant fiber use in the Southeast, and Arkansas in particular, using assemblages from the University of Arkansas Museum Collections. Her specialization in paleoethnobotany brings much-needed skills to the Toltec station and to the entire Survey organization.
Marilyn Whitlow has been the assistant at the Toltec Mounds station since 1985. She works with the station archeologist on many aspects of station management, including daily operations, research (field and lab), processing and cataloging artifacts, and outreach, including hosting lab days for volunteers.
Katy Gregory (MA, Florida Atlantic University) joined the Survey as station assistant at UAM in October 2014. She earned her BA in Anthropology from Marquette University and her MA in Anthropology from Florida Atlantic University. She previously worked for the Seminole Tribe of Florida Tribal Historic Preservation Office.