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Arkansas's National Landmarks: Eaker Site

Arkansas’s National Landmarks: The Eaker Site is a large, prehistoric archaeological site located near Blytheville in Mississippi County. The area was designated as a National Historic Landmark on June 19, 1996.

The Eaker Site, located on land that was formerly Eaker Air Force Base, is considered the largest and most intact Late Mississippian Nodena site in the Central Mississippi Valley. The Arkansas Archeological Survey’s Blytheville Research Station developed a multi-year archeological project at the site to increase understanding of Mississippian towns, to gather information to aid in the management and interpretation of the site for the public, and to provide information about the site to the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.

 The Eaker site, like most Mississippian settlements, stands on the bank of a river, in this case Pemiscot Bayou, which was a major waterway in earlier times. Pemiscot Bayou is located in the St. Francis Basin of the Mississippi Valley. The site consists of several components from different time periods, perhaps indicating that people kept coming back to the area generation after generation. There is no known mound, although unsubstantiated rumor has it that there once was one. Previous work at the site has resulted in as many questions as answers about the people who lived there. Archaeologists use the term “Nodena” to describe the Native American way of life along the Mississippi River that the Eaker Site represents. The site is believed to have been a Nodena-Phase town, with sturdy permanent houses, a defensive wall and ditch, and a mound. Nodena people enjoyed a widespread trade network, bringing whelk shells (sea snails), chert (a form of microcrystalline quartz used for arrow and spear points), basalt and other exotic goods to the area. Historians believe that Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto may have visited the Nodena villages in the early 1540s, so it is possible that he visited the Eaker Site because of its size and importance as a Nodena complex. The Eaker site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and the Quapaw Tribe has declared it a Quapaw Sacred Site. Learn more about the Eaker Site at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, the Arkansas Archeology Survey Blytheville Research Station. Read the National Historic Landmark nomination for more information. [Pictured, L to R: NASA Satellite Image, STS073-E-5091 (30 October 1995); The Mississippi River meanders through its floodplain between the northeastern corner of Arkansas and the northwestern corner of Tennessee. Blytheville, Arkansas, and the former Eaker Air Force Base can be seen near the top of the image. Arkansas Archeological Survey conducting excavations at Area E in 2004. The AAS discovered Mathew Incised pottery, dating to between AD 1200 and 1400 at the site. Both images courtesy of Arkansas Archeological Survey. ]