The Aztalan Site in historical perspective


Lynne Goldstein - Michigan State University  


Abstract: Aztalan is the most famous archaeological site in Wisconsin, and is related to the Cahokia site. Aztalan dates in part to what archaeologists call the Middle Mississippian period (ca. AD 1000-1300), and is the northernmost of the large Mississippian villages. In trying to prepare a synthesis of what is known about Aztalan, I was struck by the fact that what we know about Aztalan is totally determined by the questions that have been asked. While of course that is true of any site and any research, it is especially the case at Aztalan, in part because there have been a smaller number of researchers overall. In thinking about this situation, it occurred to me that one way to present a synthesis of Aztalan is to frame it as a history of American archaeology, in which it is as important to understand the research questions and the research context as it is to understand what was found. While I plan to present this work as a book, my talk will outline this perspective, noting the highlights of the approach, as well as an overview of over 150 years of research at the site.