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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark TOBIAS-THOMPSON COMPLEX

Location: Rice County, on the Little Arkansas River, about 4 miles southeast of Geneseo. The Tobias Site is on a ridge south of the river; the Thompson Site is about 450 yards away on a ridge north of the river.

Ownership and Administration. Privately owned.

Significance. Most historians, ethnologists, and archeologists agree that the Quiviran, or Wichita, sites visited by Coronado and later by Bonilla and Humaña were located in present Rice and McPherson Counties, Kans. Fragments of chain mail of ring diameters that fall within the 16th-century pattern have been excavated at the Thompson Site of the Tobias-Thompson Complex. European glass, copper, and iron objects have been obtained from the complex, as well as from the Malone and Saxman Sites in Rice County, and from the Paint Creek Site in McPherson County.

Further evidence of contact between the inhabitants of the Tobias Thompson Complex and the Southwest Indians has been provided by the discovery of turquoise beads, Rio Grande glaze paint pottery, and Chupadero black-on-white pottery. The glaze paint pottery probably dates from about the time of Coronado's excursion onto the Great Plains, in 1541.

Culturally, temporally, and spatially the Tobias and Thompson Sites are parts of a single community. However, because they are separated by a small stream and were considered separate sites prior to excavation, they bear separate designations in archeological literature. Interesting features of the Tobias-Thompson Complex and associated sites are the so-called "council circles," low mounds that may have been temples or ritual centers. The "council circle" at the Tobias Site is approximately 60 feet in diameter and is surrounded by four or possibly five elliptical basins in a discontinuous circle. Only four similar "council circles" are known, all in Indian sites culturally related to the Tobias Thompson Complex.

Present Appearance. The complex is well preserved. It is chiefly in grassland, but includes some unbroken sod. [21]

NHL Designation: 07/04/64

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Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005