Aztalan : Mysteries of an Ancient Indian Town (Robert Birmingham and Lynne Goldstein : Nonfiction) c. 2005

Summary: Following the Winnebago War of 1827 and the Black Hawk War of 1832, settlers poured into the newly organized Wisconsin Territory. Fifty miles west of the newly founded village of Milwaukee, along the Crawfish River, these new arrivals made a startling discovery: a series of large man-made mounds, all that remained of an abandoned city. Believing the site to be the remains of the mythological northern homeland of the Aztec the site was dubbed Aztalan, and became the site of extensive archeological research for the next 175 years. Only in recent years have archeologists been able to piece together the story of this site. Occupied between 1050 and 1100 AD, Aztalan was the northern outpost of a complex chiefdom level society centered around Cahokia, a civilization that has been named ‘Mississippian.’ Birmingham and Goldstein tap into research and history both old and new to paint a picture of this unique settlement.

Review: This slight book (138 pages) provides an able overview of the Mississippian settlement of Aztalan, but is primarily for neophytes in Wisconsin archeology. Birmingham is a past state archeologist for the state of Wisconsin, and Goldstein is a current professor of anthropology at Michigan State University. This is a good starting point for anyone interested in learning more about a little known and very important archeological site in the area; those already familiar with the basics of the site can probably take a pass.

Read-a-likes: Those looking to read more about Wisconsin archeological sites might pick up Buried Indians : Digging Up the Past in a Midwestern Town by Laurie Hovell McMillin, or Indian Mounds of Wisconsin by Robert A. Birmingham. Those seeking a comprehensive overview of the prehistory and archeology of southwestern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois should look no further than Twelve Millennia : Archeology of the Upper Mississippi River Valley by Robert Boszhardt and James Theler. The library does not currently own this title, but it can be obtained via Interlibrary Loan. For fiction titles featuring archeology and/or archeologists, check out the works of Elizabeth Peters, Lynn Hamilton and Mary Anna Evans.

Availability: This item is available at the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book. Click here to check on the availability.

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