Another on the 'essential' list 


Probably the greatest-ever American archeological tragedy occurred in 1934-35 in eastern Oklahoma, only about 10 miles across the border from Fort Smith, near a little crossroads now called Spiro.

A thousand years ago, the place was home to a Mississippian people more highly civilized and far more culturally advanced than the present-day clodhopper residents, and over a span of centuries those ancients built a complex of burial mounds comparable to those at Scott on the lower Arkansas.

The Spiro people disappeared about 600 years ago for reasons unknown — the Caddo, Wichita, or, according to the great Frank Schambach formerly of SAU at Magnolia, the Tunica might be their descendants — but those mounds they left behind contained a fabulous treasure of artifacts and artwork discovered and dug up and dispersed first by looters and pot hunters and later by WPA workers in the 1930s.

Although much of the Spiro material eventually found its way piecemeal into museums nationwide and worldwide, the loss is often equated with what would have been lost if grave robbers had similarly plundered and squandered the King Tut treasures.

The story has many Arkansas angles and Arkansas characters and it is admirably told in “Looting Spiro Mounds: An American King Tut’s Tomb,” by David La Vere, a history professor at the University of North Carolina. It’s an original paperback from the University of Oklahoma at Norman, priced at $24.95. A strong candidate for addition to our Essential Library of Arkansas Books.


From the ArkTimes store



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Bob Lancaster

  • Banned in 2018

    Here's some arcana reeking of 2017 that I'm banning from consideration, attention, even out-loud mention in 2018. I'm unfriending all this 2017-reminding shit. It's dead to me in 2018.
    • Jan 11, 2018
  • More »

Most Shared

  • A mayor stands up against freeway widening. No. Not in Little Rock.

    Another booming city, Indianapolis, fights ever wider urban freeways. Meanwhile, back in Little Rock .....
  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Latest in Books

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28  

Most Viewed

  • After the storm

    A new collection listens to the trailblazers of desegregation

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation