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Mississippian Culture and Aztalan

About the same time that Viking settlers founded colonies in Greenland and Canada, carriers of a new culture appeared in Wisconsin. Archaeologists call their culture "Middle Mississippian." About AD 1000, emigrants left the ceremonial center of Cahokia, across the Mississippi River from modern St. Louis, and built new towns in northern Illinois. Shortly afterwards, Middle Mississippians moved up the Mississippi and Rock River valleys into Wisconsin.

At its peak, between AD 1100 and 1200, Cahokia was a massive community with a population of between ten thousand and forty thousand (larger than London, Paris, or Rome at the time). The city centered... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: A visitor publishes the first description of Aztalan in 1837.  A visitor publishes the first description of Aztalan in 1837.
Link to article: The second scholarly attempt to map and explain the mounds (1842)  The second scholarly attempt to map and explain the mounds (1842)
Link to article: An 1839 visitor credits Aztalan to ancient foreigners  An 1839 visitor credits Aztalan to ancient foreigners
Link to article: A Mormon writer theorizes about the origins of Aztalan in 1845  A Mormon writer theorizes about the origins of Aztalan in 1845
Link to article: The first careful investigation of Wisconsin mounds is published in 1838.  The first careful investigation of Wisconsin mounds is published in 1838.
Link to book: Cyrus Thomas proves in 1894 that Indians built the effigy mounds.  Cyrus Thomas proves in 1894 that Indians built the effigy mounds.
Link to images: Photographs of Aztalan in August, 2004  Photographs of Aztalan in August, 2004
Link to images: Oneota cultivated fields near Lake Winnebago.  Oneota cultivated fields near Lake Winnebago.
Link to images: Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868  Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868
Link to manuscript: An 1838 letter describes Aztalan  An 1838 letter describes Aztalan
Link to manuscript: Archaeologist Increase Lapham writes home from the field.  Archaeologist Increase Lapham writes home from the field.
Link to manuscript: An early settler tries to investigate Aztalan in 1838.  An early settler tries to investigate Aztalan in 1838.

Primary Sources Available Elsewhere

Link to book: Increase Lapham's scholarly book on Wisconsin's effigy mounds, 1855  Increase Lapham's scholarly book on Wisconsin's effigy mounds, 1855

Related Links

Visit our archaeology Web pages
Read about our "People of the Woodlands" museum exhibition
Visit the Web site of the Menominee Indian Tribe
Visit the Web site of the Ho-chunk Nation
Visit Aztalan State Park and Museum (directions, hours and photographs)
Visit the Cahokia Mounds Web site
Discover the standard book about Wisconsin Indians, by Patty Loew
Discover classroom resources available from our Office of School Services
Search our catalogs for materials on this topic that aren't yet available online.
Borrow books about this topic through our interlibrary loan service
Borrow manuscripts about this topic through our Area Research Center network.
Learn about other topics from our new book, Wisconsin History Highlights
Arrange a tour on this topic at our Museum
Discover the most authoritative book about Aztalan

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