You know the old real estate motto- location, location, location. It can pertain to ancient towns as much as it does to the modern cities of the U.S.. The tech, traditions, religions and recreational pursuits may differ entirely. However, a place with an abundance of resources and an easier life are always tops in any age.
The ancient town I’m Alluding to is known modernly as Aztalan. It’s actually a Misspelling of a mythical Aztec settlement known as Aztlan. When it was discovered, men, who found large pyramidal mounds at the sight, figured it was a lost Aztec city. Their beliefs were misplaced, as it was a settlement of the Mississippian people, yet the misspelled title remained.
Its location inspires dreams of a primitive culture living in harmony, both with nature and each other. It is a place where one can hunt, farm, fish and forage -providing a very balanced and nutritional diet.
I’ve been craving a historic site, and the weather today was one hundred percent cooperative. Unfortunately, many cool attractions are closed till next week, not this one. It was the location of probably one of the biggest archeological digs in Wisconsin, at least as far as ancient peoples are concerned. Today, it is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
When I arrive, I’m greeted by a panorama that has never greeted my eyes before. Large timbers stretch towards the sky, lined in a matter that forms a stockade. They surround an emerald green step pyramid (more commonly known as a platform mound). Between that and the road, dormant prairie grass lies pale in a rolling field that descends to a swift flowing river.
I park and follow a grassy path towards the stockade. When I reach it, I’m actually stunned. I’ve seen effigy mounds before, but not to this scale. I walk around the giant hill and find a staircase built into the side. I follow the steps to the top. It lends a marvelous view.
It is not known, since there was no written language of the Mississippians, why these mounds were built. Some believe it to be religious, others ceremonial. Whatever the reason, its evidence of a hardworking society.
From there, I make my way to the rapidly flowing river, known as the Crawfish River. Along a path following the contours of the Crawfish, I find placards outlining what is known about the people who lived here. They know a little from digs, yet, there is a lot that remains a mystery. Through carbon dating it is known they lived at the site from the 10th century to somewhere during the 13th, why they left remains unknown.
Some of the placards explain a way of life, at least from as far as archeologists can deduce. Partially, the location helps understand their mode of survival. As I stand on one bank of the river, facing the opposite, I am aware of a stark contrast. My surroundings are rolling grassy lands. A different setting of a thick woodland lies on the other side. One could have used the timbers and hunted on the opposite side and farmed my side.
There has been evidence of houses grouped together, leading to the belief that there was town planning. It is believed that this was a small town of about 500 inhabitants.
I follow the trail away from the small rolling prairie and am walking through a small wooded path. I find another mound much like the first, surrounded by a stockade and stepped into a pyramid.
The peacefulness of this picturesque park, even if the trees are bare, stir pictures of purposeful and prosperous lives. Today there are a few people in the park, as the trails are suitable for walking this mid spring day. I finish up my tour of the park by viewing a few conical mounds, then make my way to the car.
The park is 170 acres and exploring it takes about an hour. It was really quite a fun little experience as, like I said, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The biggest city nearby would be Madison, I arrived mainly by following Hwy 26 from Oshkosh. The park was once used for farmland so some of the mounds are restored, as is the stockade. It’s still pretty cool!