Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park

Last updated
Toltec Mounds Site
3 LN 42
Toltec Mounds Archeological Site Overview HRoe 2013.jpg
Illustrated overview of the site
USA Arkansas location map.svg
Archaeological site icon (red).svg
Shown within Arkansas
Location Scott, Arkansas,  Lonoke County, Arkansas, Flag of the United States.svg  USA
Region Lonoke County, Arkansas
Coordinates 34°38′49″N92°3′55″W / 34.64694°N 92.06528°W / 34.64694; -92.06528
Founded600 CE
Abandoned1050 CE
Cultures Plum Bayou culture
Site notes
Architectural styles platform mounds, burial mounds, plazas
Architectural detailsNumber of monuments:
Toltec Mounds Site
NRHP reference No. 73000382
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 12, 1973 [1]
Designated NHLJune 2, 1978 [2]
Responsible body: State

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park (3 LN 42), also known as Knapp Mounds, Toltec Mounds Site or Toltec Mounds, is an archaeological site from the Late Woodland period in Arkansas that protects an 18-mound complex with the tallest surviving prehistoric mounds in Arkansas. The site is on the banks of Mound Lake, an oxbow lake of the Arkansas River. It was occupied by its original inhabitants from 600 to 1050 CE. [3] The site is designated as a National Historic Landmark.



The identification of the site with the Toltec of Mexico was a 19th-century mistake. Mrs. Gilbert Knapp, owner of the land from 1857 to 1900, thought the Toltecs had built the mounds.

Investigations at the site by archaeologist Edward Palmer from the Smithsonian Institutions Bureau of American Ethnology in 1883 and by others since have proved that the indigenous ancestors of regional Native Americans built these mounds and all other mounds within the present-day United States. They were part of mound building cultures that flourished from the Late Archaic period into the Protohistoric period. [3] They built earthwork mounds for religious, political and ceremonial purposes, connecting them to their cosmology.

Plum Bayou Culture

The people who built the mounds at the Toltec site had a culture distinct from other contemporary Native American groups in the Mississippi Valley. Archaeologists named theirs the Plum Bayou culture, after a local waterway. Plum Bayou sites are found throughout the White River and Arkansas River floodplains of central and eastern Arkansas, but are also found as far west as the eastern Ozark Mountains. Toltec is the largest site of the Plum Bayou culture. Their relationships with neighboring cultures such as the Coles Creek culture to the south and Fourche Maline culture to the southwest are still under investigation. [3] The people lived in permanent villages and hamlets throughout the countryside. They built sturdy houses, farmed, gathered wild plants, fished, and hunted.

Toltec Site

Two mounds at the site Chromesun toltec mounds photo01.jpg
Two mounds at the site

Mound groups, such as this one, were religious and social centers for people living in the surrounding countryside. The Toltec Mounds site had a small population, made up primarily of political and religious leaders of the community and their families. This center was occupied from about 600 to 1050 CE.

Located on the banks of an oxbow lake, the archaeological site once had an 8–10-foot-high (2.4–3.0 m) and 5,298-foot-long (1,615 m) earthen embankment and ditch on three sides. The other side was the lake, now called Mound Pond. Eighteen mounds were built inside the high curving 1 mile embankment, and two were originally 38 and 49 feet (12 and 15 m) high. Mounds were placed along the edges of two open areas (plazas) which were used for political, religious, and social activities attended by people from the vicinity. At least two mounds were used for feasting, as indicated by discarded food remains. Deer were a favorite food. Mound locations seem to have been planned using principles based on the alignment with important solar positions and standardized units of measurement. Most of the mounds were flat-topped platform mounds with buildings on them. Other Native Americans lived on the site in the 15th century, but they did not build the mounds.

The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978., [2] [4]

Culture, phase and chronological table for the Toltec Mound Site

PeriodLower Yazoo PhaseDatesTensas/Natchez PhaseToltec PhaseDates
HistoricRussell1650 - 1750 CE Tensas/Natchez Quapaw  ? 1673
Plaquemine/Mississippian culture
Late Plaquemine/Mississippian
Middle Plaquemine/Mississippian
Early Plaquemine/Mississippian
Wasp Lake1400 - 1650 CETransylvania/Emerald Quapaw ?1650
Lake George 1300 - 1400 CEFitzhugh/Foster--
Winterville 1200 - 1300 CERouth/Anna --
Transitional Coles Creek Crippen Point 1050 - 1200 CEPreston/Gordon--
Coles Creek culture
Late Coles Creek
Middle Coles Creek
Early Coles Creek
Kings Crossing 950 - 1050 CEBalmoral--
Aden 800 - 950 CEBallinaSteele Bend750 - 900 CE
Bayland 600 - 800 CESundownDortch Bend600 - 750 CE
Baytown culture
Baytown 2
Baytown 1
Deasonville500 - 600 CEMarsdenDooley Bend400 - 600 CE
Little Sunflower400 - 500 CEIndian Bayou--
Marksville culture
Late Marksville
Early Marksville
Issaquena200 - 400 CEIssaquena--
Anderson Landing0 - 200 CEPoint Lake/Grand Gulf--
Tchefuncte culture Tuscola400 BCE - 0 CEPanther Lake--

Table taken from "Emerging Patterns of Plum Bayou Culture:Preliminary Investigations of the Toltec Mounds Research Project", by Martha Ann Rolingson, 1982. [3]

See also

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  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. 1 2 "Toltec Mounds Site". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-26.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Rolingson, Martha Ann (1982). Emerging Patterns of Plum Bayou Culture:Preliminary Investigations of the Toltec Mounds Research Project. Arkansas Archaeological Survey. ISBN   1-56349-042-0.
  4. "National Historic Landmark Nomination" (PDF). National Park Service. 1978-02-08.