Ka Do Ha: A Blend of History and Treasures

Ka Do Ha: A Blend of History and Treasures

Ka Do Ha Mounds Photo: Kathleen Walls

Posted May 31, 2024

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Just outside the small town of Murfreesboro, Arkansas, a sign near the entrance of Ka Do Ha proclaims it as the “home of the world’s largest diamond.” I think the village itself is a precious gem. Ka Do Ha is a beautiful mix of authentic scientific knowledge and tourist attraction fun you do not want to miss.

Ka Do Ha Diamond Display

World’s Largest Diamond at Ka Do Ha Photo: Kathleen Walls

Ancient Mounds Provide a Glimpse into the Past

Ka Do Ha contains the only open mounds in the United States. Discovered in 1964 by Glen Kizzia, an amateur archaeologist, the mounds date back approximately 1,000 years. They preserve the remnants of an ancient Caddo Civilization. Remains left at the mound sites tell us the people buried here had a well-developed civilization. They were farmers as well as hunters and gatherers. They made tools, created elaborate pottery, and had advanced religious beliefs.

The largest mound once served as a temple mound. Looking down into the excavations inside another mound there are burial sites. Out of respect for Native Americans, the skeletons are plastic replicas not actual bones. However, they do give a feel for what the mounds were like when first excavated. Believed to be the burial site of a chief, the larger mound contains personal effects, pipes, water bottles, food bowls and pottery. Another site contains two sets of bones. One is believed to be a chief and the other, a younger man possibly a sacrifice.

Nearby, a nature trail provides a place to wander and commune with nature after observing the mounds.

Ka Do Ha Replica of Bones in Mounds

Replica of Bones in Mounds Photo: Kathleen Walls

Explore Ancient Artifacts from the Paleo Period

Ka Do Ha’s Museum displays artifacts from the earliest people in America. Each exhibit features a recording explaining the era and the artifacts. The oldest exhibit features the Paleo period from about 12,000 to 8,000 BC. During that period, the first people began migrating through the Bering Straits (a land bridge at the time) into what is now Alaska and ultimately down across the American continents.

The exhibit contains Clovis Points – the early arrow and spearheads crafted from stone or mammoth bones. There is a display showing how the points were made going from a mammoth bone through five more steps in the shaping of the finished spearhead. As an anthropology major, this was one of the most interesting exhibits for me as Clovis Points are the oldest human-made tools found in America.

Anthropologists are still not sure if they began in America or evolved from earlier Asian points. If you look carefully, you can see the point was made by flaking at both top and bottom of each chip. They used a stone such as flint to chip the spearhead or arrowhead. The spearheads are usually about a third of an inch thick, one to two inches wide, and about four inches long with a slightly concave front and back so they could be mounted on a spearhead. They were so sharp they could pierce the hide of a mastodon.

Ka Do Ha Artifacts from the Paleo Period

Artifacts from the Paleo Period Photo: Kathleen Walls

Archaic and Woodland Periods

The next exhibit moves into the Archaic Period. Arrowheads and points in this exhibit resemble the earlier Clovis Points. Moving into the Woodland Period, notched arrowheads and early basket weaving appear. They would have used a lightweight, spear-throwing stick called an atlatl for hunting bigger game.

Ka Do Ha Artifacts from the Woodland Period

Artifacts from the Woodland Period Photo: Kathleen Walls

Caddo Culture

Skillful potters and basket makers, the Caddo people created more elaborate pottery and weapons. These semi-nomadic people also planted farms to supplement their hunting and gathering. Trading and religious ceremonies were part of their life. A diorama in the museum shows the dwellings constructed of poles thatched with grass. By the time of the first European contact, the Caddo consisted of many tribes who had treaties with neighboring tribes. They had an advanced civilization in spite of European efforts to make them appear ignorant savages.

Ka Do Ha Diorama

Ka Do Ha Diorama

Mississippian Period

Exhibits featuring Mississippian pottery and culture illustrate how the crafts became more artistic and elaborate as people became more settled. show how, as these people became more settled in one place for longer periods, their pottery became more artistic and elaborate. Fine ware pottery was used for decoration or religious purposes and other coarse ware pottery for everyday use. Some of the pottery from this period features animal effigies and humanlike faces. Archaeologists are not sure if it had symbolic or religious meaning or was just for decoration. Another exhibit goes into the historical period with artifacts of Native Americans we are most familiar with like beaded moccasins, beads, and bracelets.

Ka Do Ha digging field

Digging Field Photo: Kathleen Walls

Ka Do Ha Tourist Attractions for All Ages

Ka Do Ha features a Trading Post with a mix of authentic and reproduction artifacts. Tomahawks and feather headdresses appeal to kids.

Outside, a large field beckons adults and kids seeking treasures. Here you can dig for arrowheads or diamonds and keep what you find. I dug for a brief time and found a few interesting pebbles. Some of my friends found arrowheads and one even picked a four-leaf clover to go along with her lucky find.

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  • Kathleen Walls, former reporter for Union Sentinel in Blairsville, GA, is publisher/writer for American Roads and Global Highways. She is the author of several travel books including Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways, Finding Florida’s Phantoms, Hosts With Ghosts, and Wild About Florida series.  Kathleen's articles have appeared in Family Motor Coaching Association Magazine, Food Wine Travel Magazine, Weekender Extended, Travel World International,  Tours4Mobile and others. She is a photographer with many of her original photographs appearing in her travel ezine, American Roads, as well as other publications. Her fiction includes Last Step, which was made into a feature movie of the same name by Forbes Productions, Kudzu, Under A Bloody Flag and Under A Black Flag. PODCAST FEATURE Listen to Kathleen's interview talking about the American south.