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Caddo Archeology Journal
It is, from time to time, valuable to reassess and perhaps shed new light on long-held perspectives. In "The 'Northern Caddoan Area' was not Caddoan," Frank Schambach provides a provocative reinterpretation of the archaeology of the Arkansas Basin and Ozark Highland regions of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. While certain comments in this paper have merit and deserve deeper consideration, the central theme and supporting arguments are severely flawed, both from conceptual and data points of view.
Schambach's central argument is that there were no Caddoans in the Arkansas Basin and Ozark Highlands north of Spiro. To make this point he asserts that the only Caddoan site north of the Ouachita Mountains is the Brown Mound group at Spiro. All the other sites in the region, including the Craig Mound group at Spiro, are not Caddoan, but are instead a currently undefined Mississippian manifestation. Schambach's scenario goes. something like this: Mississippians moved up the Arkansas River valley in the early,Mississippian Period (presumably in the Harlan Phase, A.O. 850-1250), through western Arkansas to eastern Oklahoma where they displaced the Caddoans living at the Brown Mound group. The Caddoans moved back south to the Ouachita Mountains. The Mississippians, including "people of the Plum Bayou culture ... the Spiro phase [A.O. 1250-1450]" then built Craig Mound at Spiro while possibly operating a trade system "to supply buffalo meat arid hides to the rapidly growing and increasingly protein poor and clothing poor Mississippian populations. . .. " to the east. Later, the Mississippians, who were probably ancestral Tunica, retreated back down the Arkansas River "to south of Dardenelle, where De Soto encountered them in 1541." The Caddoans then returned to the Spiro area to become the people of the Fort Coffee Phase (A.O. 1450-1500s). This sequence of events is a fascinating reinterpretation of regional culture history, unfortunately it falls flat when confronted by either contemporary theory or the data.
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