Update: Study Committee on the Preservation of Burial Sites

We would like to share this brief note regarding Wisconsin’s burial sites preservation law based on our experience participating with the 2016 Legislative Council Study Committee on the Preservation of Burial Sites. The study committee, chaired by Rep. Amy Loudenbeck and co-chaired by Rep. Robert Brooks, held five meetings, each lasting about six hours. Many individuals, including several WASociety and WASurvey members, presented information and answered questions relating to their areas of expertise.

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Man Mound designated as a National Historic Landmark

The Man Mound is the 43rd site to be designated as a National Historic Landmark in Wisconsin.  It joins Aztalan, Copper Culture State Park and Silver Mound as archeological sites with that designation in the state.  The Man Mound is the first effigy mound from the region of the Effigy Mound Culture that flourished in southern Wisconsin and small adjoining portions of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota from approximately 800 to 1200 C.E. to be designated a National Historic Landmark.

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New Exhibit at Oshkosh Public Museum

New exhibition explores prehistoric and early life in Oshkosh

Dismantling of Wetlands & Waterways exhibit to begin this summer; 
People of the Waters expected to open mid-2017


The word for the Fox River in the native language of the Menominee people is Meskwahkiwp Sipiah, meaning “Red Earth River.” For the last two years, the Oshkosh Public Museum has been researching and developing a new long-term exhibition called People of the Waters that enables visitors to discover the region’s rich Native American heritage that spans 10,000 years. The story will be presented in a compelling, state-of-the-art format.


The total cost for People of the Waters is $750,000 and the Museum has about 75% of the necessary funding to complete this important project. Community financial support is needed to reach the final goal to make the new People of the Waters permanent exhibit a reality.


People of the Waters is a full gallery refit, meaning the existing exhibition, Wetlands & Waterways, will be removed from wall to wall. Dismantling of Wetlands & Waterways is set to begin this summer. Working with the award-winning Split Rock Studios of Minnesota, the Clan Committee of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin, and some of the best, most highly acclaimed content experts in the state, People of the Waters will soon replace this main floor gallery.


Creating a vibrant sense of place that brings the past to life through pioneering techniques, the new exhibit ties directly to the educational goals of Wisconsin Act 31, and it focuses on curriculum points for 4th Grade study of the Ice Age and Native American cultures. Storylines within the exhibit will be broken down into four key areas:


• Journey Through Time: amazing mammal remains from the Pleistocene Era, when great animals walked the earth, see the sweep of how huge ice sheets changed the land from prehistoric times, to today’s landscape, and a 40’ long glass wall showcases artifacts representing the cultural history from about 12,000 years ago up to the 1850s.

• Early People: walk inside a recreated Oneota longhouse to learn about the major cultures of Native settlement in this area, uncover the past in an archaeological dig site, and discover daily activities in Native villages in the natural resource display.

• Travel and Trade: explore how materials and goods from around the world made their way to Oshkosh and discover the history of tribal and European trade, dating back thousands of years.

• Living Cultures: the content is brought into a more recent period, exploring groups like the Oneota, who lived here between 1000 and 1670 and gave rise to modern tribes.


People of the Waters is a cutting-edge exhibition that will be rich in artifacts and include new interactive techniques. It is expected to become an anchor point exhibition for the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway, and it will be a primary resource for teachers and students from throughout the region. The Oshkosh Public Museum will be unique in that no other similar exhibition exists in Wisconsin.


If you would like to make a charitable gift toward this incredible exhibition, donations are accepted online through the Museum’s website, oshkoshmuseum.org, or checks can be mailed to the Oshkosh Public Museum at 1331 Algoma Boulevard, Oshkosh, WI 54901.


People of the Waters is expected to open mid-2017, pending full funding. For more information about this project or if you are interested in becoming a major sponsor, please contact Director Brad Larson (920.236.5769 or email blarson@ci.oshkosh.wi.us) or Marketing Coordinator Karla Szekeres (920.236.5763 or email kszekeres@ci.oshkosh.wi.us).


Research Award 2013 winners — Results of Investigations

Announcing the results of investigations by the 2013 WASRA Award Winners

In 2013, the Wisconsin Archeology Society provided funding to three student and avocational projects through the Wisconsin Archeological Society Research Awards (WASRA).  Learn more about their research projects and the results of WASRA-funded investigations here:


Timothy Dahlen of Westby, WI obtained an AMS date from ceramic residue recovered during avocational research at the Ransom Rock Site (47VE1322) in Vernon County:

  Val Pierce and Ryan Letterly excavating Unit 3 at 47VE1322.

Val Pierce and Ryan Letterly excavating Unit 3 at 47VE1322.

The Ransom Rock site is located in a small valley that contains a tributary of the west fork of the Kickapoo River in Vernon County.  The site is situated on the slope below a small sandstone outcrop located slightly above the valley floor.  Four units were excavated at the site after several flakes and pottery sherds were found on the eroding surface below the outcrop.  Each of the units revealed the presence of a sheet midden capped by varying amounts of fill.  The midden contained large amounts of lithic debitage and faunal remains, as well as some pottery and charcoal.  A Madison Triangular point was found at the base of the midden.  Numerous plain, grit-tempered pottery sherds were present in the fill above the midden.  The majority of the sherds appear to be from the same vessel, with rim sherds exhibiting a decorative pattern consisting of a combination of punctates and incised lines.  A 2013 WASRA award was used to partially fund the AMS analysis of a sample of charred residue from the interior of one of the body sherds.  A conventional radiocarbon age of 1540±30 BP was returned, which calibrated at the 2-sigma confidence level to Cal AD 430 to 600 (Beta-366562).


John M. Lambert, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis documented Paleoindian materials from private and museum collections 

Archaeologists have long been interested in the behavior of the first human groups to occupy postglacial North America. Archaeological evidence indicates that Northern Wisconsin was first colonized by Agate Basin and Cody/Scottsbluff groups after 10,500-10,000 B.P. when glacial ice receded to the southern shore of Lake Superior. How these hunter-gatherer groups used mobility to cope with the unique ecological challenges presented by recently deglaciated landscapes remains a matter of considerable debate. Data I have gathered on a number of early Holocene lithic assemblages (n=9) from northern Wisconsin support the assertion that Paleoindian groups in the region were highly mobile. Average transport distances routinely exceed 200 km (several sites are located over 300 km from individual raw material sources), toolkit composition reflects a reliance on long-distance residential movement, and transport of toolstone occurs along a predominantly north/south axis, often between paired raw material sources that are inferred to lie at opposite ends of groups' annual ranges. Others have documented a strikingly similar pattern at early Paleoindian sites in the Great Lakes and Northeast, which has been interpreted as evidence for high seasonal mobility centered on the exploitation of large game. The distribution of specific lithic raw materials at the sites noted above implies that colonizing populations exploited an area extending from northeast Minnesota (e.g., Knife Lake siltstone and Gunflint silica) to central Wisconsin (e.g., Hixton orthoquartzite and Prairie du Chien chert). WASRA-funded travel to document the analysis of collections from the Forks View site in Calumet Co. Forks View site, as well as four other private collections containing Paleoindian material from a number of sites in Calumet and Sheboygan Co., as well as two museum collections, WI is helping to elucidate the behavior of groups at the southern end of this range, and is a crucial step toward answering questions about the role of mobility among human groups who colonize early postglacial landscapes. 

  Paleoindian projectile points and preforms in the Babler collection from the Forks View site (47-CT-100), including Clovis/Gainey (n=3), Folsom (n=1), Midland (n=2), Alberta (n=1), Agate Basin (n=11), Scottsbluff (n=14), Upper Valley Dalton (n=7), and several point and preform proximal (n=4), medial (n=10), and distal (n=8) fragments.

Paleoindian projectile points and preforms in the Babler collection from the Forks View site (47-CT-100), including Clovis/Gainey (n=3), Folsom (n=1), Midland (n=2), Alberta (n=1), Agate Basin (n=11), Scottsbluff (n=14), Upper Valley Dalton (n=7), and several point and preform proximal (n=4), medial (n=10), and distal (n=8) fragments.

Katie Zejdlik, a Ph.D Candidate Department of Anthropology, Indiana University examined dentition of Late Woodland and Mississippian peoples:

  WASRA award winner Katie Zejdlik

WASRA award winner Katie Zejdlik

WASRA funding helped support my dissertation research, which is an investigation of biological relatedness between Cahokia and individuals at the northern limits of the Mississippian landscape. The processes behind the Mississippianization of the Midwest are unknown and often assumed to be the result of interaction with individuals from the Mississippian center, Cahokia. These assumptions are based on material culture and site organization but it is unknown to what level direct contact occurred. Biological relationships can be derived from the size and shape of teeth as these traits are genetically inherited. Individuals from 8 Wisconsin Effigy Mound sites and 2 Wisconsin Mississippian sites are being compared to individuals from Late Woodland and Mississippian sites in the Central Illinois River Valley and southern Indiana as well as Langford sites in northeastern Illinois. WASRA funding provided me the resources for travel, room, and board so that I could examine the Wisconsin component of this project.

2014 WASRA competition is NOW OPEN until March 15

See the following link for details:


Kenosha County Archaeological Society in the News

The Kenosha County Archaeological Society, a local chapter of the Wisconsin Archeological Society, was recently featured in the Kenosha News. For the last 40 years, the organization has been working on site preservation, documenting artifact collections, and assisting in local excavations. 



New Book on Wisconsin Native American Artifacts

A new book titled, "Native American Artifacts of Wisconsin" by Paul Schanen  and David Hunzicker highlights Native American projectile points, agricultural tools, and ceramics from around the state. Their book features photos of hundreds of artifacts, many of which are from the Tomah area and central Wisconsin. Schanen was quoted in the Lacrosse Tribune, saying his motivation for writing the book was partially the lack of recent books on the topic. He says it took about three years to write.


"Native American Artifacts of Wisconsin" can be purchased for about $75 from amazon.com. The book currently has 8 reviews and a five-star rating.



Busy Summer at Aztalan State Park

Recognized as a National Historic Landmark, the prehistoric Mississippian village of Aztalan is well-known as one of the most important archaeological sites in Wisconsin – and this summer is shaping up to be a very busy time for archaeologists at Aztalan!

  Photo Credit: Dan Seurer ::   http://danseurer.com/aztalan-archeology-2013/

Three teams will be conducting investigations at Aztalan from early June through mid-August:

  • Michigan State (Currently underway and continuing through June 28th). Dr. Lynne Goldstein is directing excavations of the “Gravel Knoll” and an area outside the main palisade line, just west of the southwest platform mound;  investigations are on-going from Tuesday mornings through Sundays at noon.
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (July 22nd – August 17th).  Dr. John Richards will be continuing his research, excavating along Aztalan’s banks and shoreline areas on the west side of the Crawfish River.
  • DNR/University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (dates TBA).  Working with Dr. Richards of UWM, Wisconsin DNR is supporting geoarchaeological investigations of various areas within the site, on both sides of the Crawfish River.

This will be the most active archaeological field season at Aztalan in decades – a perfect time to visit the site and see real archaeologists “in action” (note that Michigan State is working on weekends).  

For additional information, please contact Mark Dudzik, Departmental Archaeologist, at mark.dudzik@wi.gov