The Baytown site represents one of the few remaining multi-mound ceremonial centers of the Baytown period in eastern Arkansas. The Baytown Period, which takes its name from the Baytown site, was originally described by Phillips, Ford and Griffin (1951: pp. 337-340, and 437-445). It was a long cultural period dating from A.D. 500 to A.D. 1000 encompassing a large geographic area in the middle and lower Mississippi River Valley. This original description was thought to be too broad in scope, particularly as a chronological entity and was revised by Phillips (1970: pp. 17-18, and 901-912). As presently constituted the Baytown Period begins ca. A.D. 300 and continues until ca. A.D. 700. Further refinement by Phillips organizes the cultural data from the period into some ten regional phases, or spatial/temporal units which demonstrate a degree of cultural similarity. These ten phases are distributed along the Mississippi Valley in Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi. One of these phases retains the original name, the Baytown Phase, and is situated primarily in the lower White and St. Francis River Valleys in Arkansas, with a few sites in Mississippi. The name of the aboriginal pottery type Baytown Plain also derives from this site.
The Baytown Period is a culturally significant period which includes activities in the Mississippi River Valley from the decline of the Woodland Hopewellian influence to the consolidation of the Coles Creek culture. The Baytown site, in addition to being the type site for both the Baytown Period and Baytown Phase also has produced material indicating occupation of the site prior to and subsequent to the Baytown period which would allow the archeologist an opportunity to examine cultural change through an extended segment of time. During a brief test excavation in 1971, in addition to Baytown and Coles Creek pottery, a few sherds of shell tempered pottery were recovered which suggest an even later occupation than had been previously indicated. Although this test was short, one week end, cultural material, primarily pottery, was found to be relatively abundant, and the soil in certain areas showed that sub-surface features would be easy to detect. Faunal material (skeletal) was seen to be in reasonably good condition, which is somewhat unusual for this area of the state due to the normal acidity of the soil. This unique condition permits examination of dietary habits not normally available to the archaeologist. Another important aspect of the Baytown site is its relatively undisturbed condition. Though a small portion of the site has eroded into Indian Bay, and agriculture has been practiced on portions of the site for some years, the majority of the site is still intact, and it is felt that sub-surface features, and midden accumulations are probably largely undisturbed. These factors combine to make the Baytown site one of a number of important and scientifically critical sites where future research can contribute significantly to our knowledge of prehistory in the Lower Mississippi Valley.
Phillips, Philip, James A. Ford, and James B, Griffin. 1951 Archeological Survey in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, 1940-47. Papers of the Peabody Museum of Amer. Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Vol. XXV, Cambridge, Mass., 1951.
Phillips, Philip. 1970 Archeological Survey in the Lower Yazoo Basin, Mississippi 1949-1955. Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. Harvard University, Vol. 60, Parts 1 and 2.