Aztalan State Park
Lake Mills, Wisconsin
Aztalan State Park Lake Mills Reviews
Wisconsin's most important archaeological site Jul 04, 2010
Aztalan State Park is Wisconsin's most important archeaological site and contains remnants of a Middle-Mississipian village from around 1000 A.D. These people are related to the Cahokians near St. Louis and are believed to have traveled here by boat.
The site is a 20 acre area that was at one time surrounded by a 10-foot high stockade. The site contains several mounds - some were ceremonial and others were burial. The site was discovered in 1835 and was attempted to be preserved. However, President Van Buran denied the request to withdraw the property from public sale and the site was sold for $22. Many of the mounds have been destroyed by farming and several of the aritifacts were removed to use as fill.
Some of the original post holes from the stockade were excavated during an archaeological dig. The stockade has been reconstructed in a few places, but part of the stockade survived at least until the 1800s. The stockade consists of trees sunk in the ground at 1-2 foot intervals. The space in between was filled with mud, grass and leaves, similar to wattle and daub.
The center of the village was a comunual area, possibly a site for rituals. The villagers had crops, fished the river, gathered food from the woods and hunted the prairie. The predominate features here are the large, platform mounds. The function of these mounds are unknown. One is believed to have been used for corn storage. Another is believed to have been a ritual burial - with 10 bodies lined up inside and burned. The smaller mounds to the northwest were not burial mounds as expected. Their purpose is unknown. They may have been to mark the site, used for announcements or for astrological purposes.
The park has a nice self-guided tour of the grounds with a brochure that explains more of the site and culture. There is also a small picnic area, but no camping. The entire site can be visited in a couple of hours. As most of these mounds have been reconstructed, you can walk on them. A Wisconsin State Park sticker or daily entrance fee is required if you drive in.
Part of the Wisconsin travel blog
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