Robert C. Mainfort, Jr.
Ph.D. Michigan State 1977
Arkansas Archeological Survey, Room 131
Research and Teaching Interests
Emergence of complex societies, mortuary studies, archaeological systematics, historical archaeology, eastern North America
Robert Mainfort is an archaeologist with broad interests in the aboriginal cultures of eastern North America, with a particular research interest in cultural and social complexity. Some of this work involves fairly traditional culture history, but a number of publications have attempted to move debate beyond long-held interpretations of the archaeological record, e.g., archaeological “chiefdoms” and ceramic-based archaeological phases.
Mainfort is Sponsored Research Adminsitrator and Series Editor with the Arkansas Archeological Survey. He also serves on the faculty of the cross-disciplinary Ph.D. program in Environmental Dynamics (ENDY). Mainfort is the past editor of Southeastern Archaeology and serves on the Editorial Board of the Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology.
His major research projects have included historic Native American cemeteries in Michigan, Fort Pillow (Civil War, west Tennessee), Pinson Mounds (Middle Woodland, west Tennessee), nineteenth-century cemeteries in the Arkansas Ozarks, and various Mississippian sites in the Central Mississippi Valley.
Mainfort’s books include Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective (co-editor, with Lynne P. Sullivan; 2010), Sam Dellinger: Raiders of the Lost Arkansas (2008), Woodland Period Systematics in the Middle Ohio Valley (co-editor, with Darlene Applegate; 2005), The Woodland Southeast (co-editor, with David G. Anderson; 2002), Societies in Eclipse (co-editor, with David S. Brose and C. Wesley Cowan; 2001), Arkansas Archaeology: Papers in Honor of Dan and Phyllis Morse (co-editor, with Marvin D. Jeter; 1999), and Ancient Earthen Enclosures of Eastern North America (co-editor, with Lynne P. Sullivan; 1998).
Several years ago I began preparing a synthetic volume on the Pinson Mounds complex and, more broadly, the Middle Woodland (Marksville) period in the Midsouth and Lower Mississippi Valley. This involves a total reassessment of all the previous data from Pinson Mounds, as well as new research that includes geophysical imaging and locating previously unexamined historical documents. This work is leading to a view of Pinson Mounds that differs markedly from that presented in my earlier publications. My collaborators on various aspects of this are Mary Kwas, Charles McNutt, Andrew Mickelson, and Robert Thunen.
Long-term research continues on the late prehistoric mortuary record of the Central Mississippi Valley (i.e., northeast Arkansas and environs). Rita Fisher-Carroll and I have compiled data on all the reasonably well-documented human burials, including transcribing portions of C. B. Moore’s unpublished fieldnotes. The result is a database of over 5,000 burials. Ongoing work includes additional site-specific analyses, as well as regional syntheses and examination of specific artifact classes. Seven Master’s theses and a Ph.D. dissertation have been completed as part of this project.
Courses Taught (alternate years)
4093 — The Archaeology of Death
4243 — Archaeology of the Midsouth
Selected Recent Publications
(editor, with Lynne P. Sullivan) Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
(with Lynne P. Sullivan) Mortuary Practices and the Quest for Interpretation. In Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective, edited by Lynne P. Sullivan and Robert C. Mainfort, Jr., pp. 1-13. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
(with Rita Fisher-Carroll) Temporal Changes in Mortuary Behavior: Evidence from Middle and Upper Nodena. In Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective, edited by Lynne P. Sullivan and Robert C. Mainfort, Jr., pp. 128-144. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
(with Rita Fisher-Carroll) Pecan Point as the “Capital” of Pacaha: A Mortuary Perspective. In Mississippian Mortuary Practices: Beyond Hierarchy and the Representationist Perspective, edited by Lynne P. Sullivan and Robert C. Mainfort, Jr., pp. 174-194. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
(editor and contributor) Archeological Investigations at Upper Nodena: 1973 Field Season. Research Series 64. Arkansas Archeological Survey, Fayetteville.
(with James M. Davidson) Two Late Nineteenth-Century Cemeteries in Northwest Arkansas: A Study in Contrasts. Arkansas Historical Quarterly (Winter 2008): 414-428.
Sam Dellinger: Raiders of the Lost Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville.
(with Jerry E. Hilliard) The Ira Spradley Field Site: A Late Woodland Cemetery in the Arkansas Ozarks. Southeastern Archaeology 26(2):269-291.
(with J. Matthew Compton and Kathleen H. Cande) 1973 excavations at the Upper Nodena site. Southeastern Archaeology 26(1):108-123.
(co-editor and contributor, with James M. Davidson) Two Historic Cemeteries in Crawford County, Arkansas. Research Series 62. Arkansas Archeological Survey, Fayetteville.
(with Eric Cruciotti, Rita Fisher-Carroll, Charles H. McNutt, and David H. Dye) An experiment in ceramic description: Upper Nodena. Southeastern Archaeology 25(1):78-88.
(with Rita Fisher-Carroll and Daniel G. Gall) Sociotechnic celts from the Upper Nodena site, northeast Arkansas. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 31(2):323-343.
(editor, with Darlene Applegate) Woodland Period Systematics in the Middle Ohio Valley. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
Some comments on Woodland taxonomy in the middle Ohio valley. In Woodland Period Systematics in the Middle Ohio Valley, edited by D. Applegate and R. C. Mainfort, Jr., pp. 221-230. University of Alabama Press.
A k-means analysis of late period ceramic variation in the Central Mississippi Valley. Southeastern Archaeology 24(1):59-69.
(with David Hally) Prehistory of the interior Southeast east of the Mississippi after 500 B.C. In Handbook of North American Indians—Southeast, edited by Raymond D. Fogelson, pp. 265-285. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.
(with Mary L. Kwas ) The Bat Creek stone revisited: A fraud exposed. American Antiquity 69(4):761-769.
(with Charles H. McNutt) Calibrated radiocarbon chronology for Pinson Mounds and Middle Woodland in the Midsouth. Southeastern Archaeology 23(1):12-24.