Board Director I:
Dr. Roland LiebenowLinks Section
Round House Uncovered (1949)
Cone feature found in the mounds along the road in 1919.
There was a pole or post in the center in ancient times.
Skeleton of a young woman found in 1919 in a mound behind the Baptist church at Aztalan.
The mound located directly back of the Aztalan Baptist church was originally 47 feet in diameter and probably stood about six feet above the surrounding surface level at its center. most of its earth was hauled away many years ago, presumably for filling in around the church which was built in 1852. Only the base of this mound remains and averages 1.2 feet above the surrounding surface level.
At the center of the mound and at a depth of 3.75 feet below the surrounding level or about 9.75 feet below the assumed original summit of the mound, was a burial of a young woman, perhaps 20 to 25 years of age. The grave measured about eight feet in length by three feet in width at the bottom. The body was placed on its back and extended at full length.
The condition of the spinal column indicated that she had been at least slightly abnormal, and possibly her deformity may have been quite considerable. Whether this abnormality caused her to be looked upon with awe or reverence, as is the case among certain tribes even at the present day, can not be determined in the absence of further evidence concerning the burial and other customs of the people of ancient Aztalan. Unfortunately the main burial place of these people has never been discovered and we know practically nothing about their mortuary customs. It is significant that this is the only burial encountered in a mound or elsewhere which was attended by any such elaborate preparation of the body as was evident in this instance. Though the bones were in a fairly good state of preservation, they showed every evidence of an age measurable in centuries at least. There was nothing easily perishable in or around these remains except some slight traces of decomposed fragments of wood or bark, but there were indications that originally there had been much of a perishable nature buried with the body.
It was evident that the corpse had been carefully wrapped for burial and that about the outside of the bundle had been wound three belts woven of, or at lease richly decorated with clam shell beads. The skeleton rested on its back with the arms places naturally at the sides and with the legs extended full length. Its total length from the crown of the head to the heel was 5.1 feet. The head faced toward the left and the feet were turned in the same direction. Over all the skeleton measured 5.7 feet.
Each of the bead belts was about four feet in length by six inches in width and, as was easily seen from the positions and relations of the beads, particularly those under the skeleton, each belt was so woven that, in the main, the larger beads were at one end. From this end they graded down until at the opposite end of the belt were the smallest beads. The beads used were chiefly discoidal ones made evidently from the shells of the river clam, though several short, tubular beads, probably made from columella of some Gulf Coast shell, were found. Of the clam shell beads there was a good number of irregular forms and there was several showing careful shaping as squares or rectangles.
Each of the belts was similarly wrapped around the body, one about the shoulders, one about the waist and the third twice about the lower part of the legs and ankles. Apparently all three belts were laid down with the large ends to the right. The body was then placed on these ends and the other ends brought over on top of the bundle. Those at the shoulder and the waist position went around the bundle once but the one about the legs made two complete turns about the bundle, beginning at a point shortly below the knees and ending at the ankles. From the top, it would appear that there were two separate bands of beads wrapped about the legs. The fact is that the belt passed diagonally at the back though its two sections went straight across the front. The two upper belts included the arms, showing that they were placed about the body after death and probably after it had been wrapped as a bundle for burial.
These three belts contained respectively 585, 846 and 547 beads making a total of 1,978. In the earth above the body were eighteen more beads scattered at random as if thrown in a few at a time as the grave was being filled in. Thus, there were found with this burial 1,996 beads in all.
This burial is so unique in Wisconsin archeology that it was reconstructed as a special exhibit in the Wisconsin Geology and Archeology Hall of the Milwaukee Public Museum, (it is no longer on display) exactly as it lay in the pit below this mound.
Headless Burial of a Adult Outside of Enclosure at Aztalan
Refuse pit containing broken bones of animals and five humans at Aztalan
11 Crematorium burials in northwest pyramidal mound at Aztalan
Refuse pit filled with river clam shells
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