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Press Release



April 6, 2015

Kansas Archaeology Day to explore the “first” Ark City


archaeology dayThe Anthropology Program at Cowley College, with the Cowley Public Archaeology & History Group, will explore the history of the “first” Ark City at the fourth annual Kansas Archaeology this Saturday, April 11. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Earle N. Wright Community Room at Cowley College, and is free and open to the public.

In 1601, Spanish conquistador and explorer Juan de Oñate encountered a great settlement called Etzanoa at the confluence of the Arkansas and Walnut rivers. Based on new translations of the Spanish documents, it appears this town was home to 20,000 people, more than Arkansas City today. This would also make it the second-largest Native American settlement in North American history.

Dr. Donald Blakeslee, Professor of Anthropology at Wichita State University, is undertaking a major research project in the region, looking for the archaeological remains of this settlement. He will present the day’s keynote address at noon, discussing the research and the history of the region and its people. The public is invited to bring a sack lunch for the noon-time presentation.

Dr. Blakeslee will also conduct artifact identification workshops at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., for those who are interested in assisting with the local research. Collectors are encouraged to bring their artifacts for possible identification. 

Informational exhibits by Cowley archaeology students on Great Bend archaeology and proto-Wichita culture will be on display all day. There will also be a display on the tools of archaeology.  Activities for children include the popular kid’s dig, in which young children can participate in a simulated archaeological excavation, and a pottery puzzle that challenges children to put the artifact back together.

For more information, contact Chris Mayer, Cowley College faculty member and head of the Anthropology Program, at 620-441-5229, or by finding Cowley College Anthropology on Facebook.