March is Arkansas Archeology Month, and three Central Arkansas locations have a slate of fun activities lined up to celebrate. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the Arkansas Archeological Survey, so expect extra festivities!
Petit Jean State Park will host a day-long kickoff celebration on Saturday, March 4 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Petit Jean is known for its cave-like rock formations, bluff shelters, and large concentration of ancient Native American rock art. Hundreds of pictographs and petroglyphs, with estimated dates spanning from 1300 BC to AD 1600, have been discovered in dozens of sites throughout the park. Twelve of those sites are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Rock House Cave, which will be toured as part of the Archeology Day festivities. Special programming will repeat at 9 and 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m., and a car caravan tour headed to the Archeological Survey Station at the nearby Winthrop Rockefeller Institute will depart the park at 10:30 a.m.
If you miss Archeology Day and the group visit to the nearby Archeological Survey Station at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, never fear! The survey station will be open the following weekend, on Saturday, March 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Station Archeologist Dr. Emily Beahm will be on hand to explain the practice and importance of archeology through hands-on activities such as spear-throwing, flintknapping, make-your-own rock art, and ceramic design. The Heritage Farmstead’s spring house and smoke house will also be open for touring.
Three additional programs will take place at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park in Scott. On Saturday, March 11 from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m., Boy Scouts will have an opportunity to earn their Archeology Merit Badges. The cost is $7 per participant. On Sunday, March 12 from 1 to 5 p.m., gather your friends to compete in the ArcheOlympics!, a series of archeology-themed Olympic-style games including spear-throwing, archeology unit setup, tool-making and use, and more. (For a leg up, practice your spear-throwing at the Archeological Survey Station the previous day. You’re welcome!) Two activities are planned for Saturday, March 18: Artifact I.D. Day and a Spring Equinox Celebration. Have you ever dug up something interesting in your yard and wanted to know more about it? Bring up to five items to Toltec from 4 to 5 p.m. and have the Station Archeologist take a look. No appraisals will be given—just great information! From 4 to 7:30 p.m., the equinox will be celebrated with interpreter-led programs and tours, culminating with watching the sun set over Mound A.