Conical Mound Precinct

© Photographed July 21, 2015
Aztalan State Park
Jefferson, Jefferson County, Wisconsin
43.063353, -88.861921
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Conical Mound Precinct
When I.A [sic] surveyed the site in 1850, there were over 40 mounds in this area. Today only these few remain. When these mounds were excavated by archaeologists in the 1920's they found no burials, which was unexpected. Instead they found a large post set in a pit in the center of most mounds. The post was surrounded by gravel and soil and the pit capped with a mixture of clay and gravel to steady the post in its foundation. When all the mounds were built, you would have seen a row of tall posts set about ten feet above ground surface.

A few of the mounds were reported to have burials excavated by locals in the early 1800's. One mound at the north end of the row, currently located behind the Historical Society's museum, contained the famous "Princess Burial".

There are several theories about the purpose of the large posts. One is that they were marker mounds that marked the site for travelers. Another is that they were used for astronomical observations or to announce events. Yet another theory is that the posts were raised as part of a harvest or "green corn" ceremony because of their location overlooking the agricultural fields.

Whatever their purpose, it is clear they were sacred and played an integral part of village ceremonial life. The mounds are still considered sacred by Native Americans today.
The marker is one of a series of markers located on the grounds of Aztalan State Park,



Aztalan has remained a mystery since the early 19th century when it was discovered by settlers who came to the Crawfish River, 50 miles west of Milwaukee. Who were the early indigenous people who inhabited this place? When did they live here? Why did they disappear? Robert Birmingham and Lynne Goldstein attempt to unlock some of the mysteries, providing insights and information about the group of people who first settled here in 1100 A.D. Filled with maps, drawings, and photographs of artifacts, this volume examines a time before modern Native American people settled in this area.

To receive a review copy or press release, to schedule an author event, or for more information contact the WHS Press Marketing Department:
whspress@wisconsinhistory.org.

Note: This book meets and exceeds the requirements of the Wisconsin American Indian Education Act (Act 31).

See also, Marker 515: Princess Burial Mound, at nearby Lake Mills Aztalan Historical Society, Inc.



The small marker is visible in the distance,
between the two trees on the right.



The marker is in the "Marker Mounds" area.

 The visitor center was closed the day of my visit.

The marker is located at Aztalan State Park in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

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