Fortress village of Aztalan was first discovered by settlers in the early part of the 1800's when they settled in the lands near the Crawfish River.
Aztalan had been deserted for many centuries by the time these settlers arrived and few understood what they had found. Aztalan and the ancient people who lived within its walls remained shrouded in mystery for nearly two centuries.
As archeologists began to peel back the veil of time, it was determined that Aztalan thrived between A.D. 1000 and 1300.
The people of Aztalan built large flat topped pyramidal mounds upon which they erected temples and homes for shamans and high officials. They also created mounds that served as burials for the dead. Around the entire village complex they constructed a wooden stockade. The stockade walls were very likely covered over with a mud-based plaster to protect it somewhat from fire and other hazards. At various intervals along the stockade there were watch towers, presumably for defense.
It is theorized that the people of Aztalan may have shared in the cultural traditions associated with Cahokia, a large Mississippian period settlement that once existed near Collinsville, Illinois. It has also been theorized that Aztalan was a satellite village and trading partner with Cahokia.
There has been much speculation as to why the people of Aztalan disappeared. The archeological evidence points to a difficult and violent time period where warfare over resources, human sacrifice, and cannibalism were common place. Fragmentary human bones excavated at the site bear numerous cut-marks indicative of butchering. Considerable quantities of these human remains were found in the ancient garbage pits, mixed in with the remains of other food sources and discarded pottery. It has been assumed that individuals being killed and eaten were war captives.
There are some (sensitive types) who dispute this evidence and offer that it is not solid proof that cannibalism actually occurred. Regardless of the acceptance of that evidence, it should also be considered that many engraved human bone artifacts have been found that were worn as charms or talismans. It was a brutal time!
The reconstructed stockade of Aztalan looking from within the village compound. The mounds on the horizon are burial mounds.
Aztalan is one of the most important archaeological sites in the State of Wisconsin.
Aztalan is situated in south eastern Wisconsin about 50 miles to the west of the modern city of Milwaukee. Aztalan is a Wisconsin State Park and is open to the public. Visitors must purchase a Wisconsin State Park vehicle sticker to enter the park.
Visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for details.
Engraved Human Bone Talisman
Typical Mississippian Projectile Point