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Toltec Mounds Site
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park is located in Arkansas
Nearest city: Scott, Arkansas
Coordinates: 34°38′49″N 92°3′55″W / 34.64694°N 92.06528°W / 34.64694; -92.06528Coordinates: 34°38′49″N 92°3′55″W / 34.64694°N 92.06528°W / 34.64694; -92.06528
Governing body: State
Added to NRHP: January 12, 1973[1]
Designated NHL: June 2, 1978[2]
NRHP Reference#: 73000382

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, also known as Knapp Mounds, Toltec Mounds Site or Toltec Mounds, is an archaeological site from the Late Woodland period in Arkansas that protects 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 orignal inhabitants from 600 to 1050 CE.[3]



The identification of the site with the Toltecs of Mexico was a nineteenth 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 helped prove that the ancestors of Native Americans had built these mounds and all other mounds within the present-day United States, and were part of a mound building tradition that stretched from the Late Archaic period to the Protohistoric period.[3]

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 the culture 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 their 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

Several 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 and 5,298 foot-long earthen embankment and ditch on three sides. Eighteen mounds were built inside the embankment and two of them were originally 38 and 49 feet high, respectively. 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. 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 1400s, but they did not build the mounds.

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

Culture, phase and chronological table for the Toltec Mound Site

Period Lower Yazoo Phase Dates Tensas/Natchez Phase Toltec Phase Dates
Historic Russell 1650 - 1750 CE Tensas/Natchez Quapaw ? 1673
Plaquemine/Mississippian culture
Late Plaquemine/Mississippian
Middle Plaquemine/Mississippian
Early Plaquemine/Mississippian
Wasp Lake 1400 - 1650 CE Translyvania/Emerald Quapaw ? 1650
Lake George 1300 - 1400 CE Fitzhugh/Foster - -
Winterville 1200 - 1300 CE Routh/Anna - -
Transitional Coles Creek Crippen Point 1050 - 1200 CE Preston/Gordon - -
Coles Creek culture
Late Coles Creek
Middle Coles Creek
Early Coles Creek
Kings Crossing 950 - 1050 CE Balmoral - -
Aden 800 - 950 CE Ballina Steele Bend 750 - 900 CE
Bayland 600 - 800 CE Sundown Dortch Bend 600 - 750 CE
Baytown culture
Baytown 2
Baytown 1
Deasonville 500 - 600 CE Marsden Dooley Bend 400 - 600 CE
Little Sunflower 400 - 500 CE Indian Bayou - -
Marksville culture
Late Marksville
Early Marksville
Issaquena 200 - 400 CE Issaquena - -
Anderson Landing 0 - 200 CE Point Lake/Grand Gulf - -
Tchefuncte culture Tuscola 400 BCE - 0 CE Panther Lake - -

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


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b "Toltec Mounds Site". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d 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". National Park Service. 1978-02-08. 

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