Dr. Donald Gaff, Northern Iowa University Excavates at Site of Aztalan, Wisconsin

Students from the MIchigan State University Archeology Field School, led by Dr. Lynne Goldstein, continue excavations at Aztalan Wisconsin. In addition to Michigan State University students and staff,  a number students from the University of Northern Iowa, led by Dr. Donald Gaff, are also earning field school credit.  Dr. Gaff is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UNI.  Dr. Gaff received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2005.  He specialized in Midwestern Archeology, Woodland and Mississippian Archeology, and Archeological Theory.

Dr. Donald Gaff describes excavations at Aztalan to former NIU student. 

Dr. Donald Gaff describes excavations at Aztalan to former NIU student. 

Dr. Gaff has been concentrating his work in the area west of the stockade behind the southwest platform mound.   To date, little is known about how tis part of the site was used.  The team hopes to better understand what this area was used for, and to trace more of the palisade that was identified by earlier investigations.

 
Excavations West of Stockade

Excavations West of Stockade

MSU Field School Continues at Aztalan

Students participating at the MSU Archeology Field School are continuing work at the site of Aztalan.  Overall the weather has been favorable.  A bit of rain, a little cool at times, but at least not the excruciating heat we experienced last summer. 

 

Excavations and mapping continues on the southeast gravel knoll, and west of the stockade behind the southwest platform mound. 

 

 

Mapping the site.

Mapping the site.

Excavations near the reconstructed stockade.

Excavations near the reconstructed stockade.

Completing the paper work at the end of a long day.

Completing the paper work at the end of a long day.

A Brief History of Archeologists who worked at Aztalan

The site of Aztalan has been the subject of numerous archeological investigations since it was first thoroughly mapped by Increase A Lapham in 1850.  The most extensive excavations were conducted by Samual Barrett of the Milwaukee Public Museum in 1919, 1920, and 1932.  His book, “Ancient Aztalan”, remains the most comprehensive published account of excavations at the site. It was Barrett’s work at Aztalan that led to the discovery of the extensive stockade system that protected the inhabitants during Aztalan’s peak around 1100 A.D.

In the years since Barrett’s excavations, research by a number of archeologists have taken place at Aztalan.  Between 1949 and 1968 archeologists from the Wisconsin Archeological Survey who conducted excavations at Aztalan read like a who’s who of famous Wisconsin archeologists.  These include Warren Witry, Dave Baerries, Chandler Rowe, Moreau Maxwell, Joan Freeman, and William Hurley.  More recently, excavations conducted by Lynne Goldstein and John Richards  in the 1980’s and 2011 have expanded our knowledge of Aztalan.

State Archeologist Mark Dudzik and Dr. Lynne Goldstein discuss plans for Aztalan excavations.

State Archeologist Mark Dudzik and Dr. Lynne Goldstein discuss plans for Aztalan excavations.

This year’s excavations by Dr. Goldstein and  Dr. Richards will undoubtedly add valuable information on the inhabitants of Wisconsin’s most famous archeological site.

Aztalan Archeologists 2013: Michigan State University

Yesterday, May 28, after a day of heavy rains, and and a foggy evening with nearby thunderstorms, students from Michigan State University arrived at Aztalan State Park to begin their field school.  Led by noted Aztalan archeologist Dr. Lynne Goldstein, the field school will concentrate their efforts on two separate areas within the ancient stockaded village.

Aztalan State Park.  Thunderstorm passing.

Over the course of this field school, and another field school conducted by Dr. John Richards of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, I will be documenting the work being done by these archeologists.  Please continue to check back often for new posts about all the activities going on at Aztalan State Park.