The Center for Archaeological Research was founded in the early 1970s by Robert Thorne to take advantage of the extraordinary research opportunities provided by the construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway. Since that time, CAR has conducted research funded by contracts and grants with the Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority, National Park Service, Soil Conservation Service, National Geographic Society, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Aeronautics and Space Agency, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, National Audubon Society, and others. This research has focused on the northern half of Mississippi but has included projects in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, New Mexico, and California. Projects have ranged in size from small surveys to major excavations.
In addition to more traditional archaeological methods, we have been applying remote sensing and GIS technology to archaeological research since the 1980s with a major emphasis on geophysical prospection since the late 1990s. CAR owns a full range of geophysical equipment including a gradiometer, ground penetrating radar, a conductivity meter, a resistivity system, and a thermal IR sensor. CAR has done several subcontracts to conduct the geophysical survey and analysis for universities, CRM firms, and cemetery associations.
CAR has always been closely tied to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology with most of its staff holding joint appointments. Graduate and undergraduate students have formed the major work force for field and lab work. More than half of the MA theses in anthropology since the 1990s have made use of data derived from CAR-funded research.