Updated November 13, 2018
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Lecture - Effigy Mound Ceremonial Landscapes7:30 pm at UWL Student Union, room 3310Thursday, February 21, 2019Lecture
Concentrated in southern Wisconsin, much has been learned about effigy mounds over the years, including the facts that they are most often burial places and depict sometimes huge animals and supernatural beings that had been sculpted from the earth. However, explanations for the phenomena, which only lasted between circa 700 and 1100 AD, have been elusive. Drawing upon much archaeological and other anthropological information on Native American religion and worldviews, this presentation offers the view that the often vast effigy mound arrangements are ceremonial landscapes reflecting a religious movement in which key powerful spirits were periodically animated in places where the spirits dwell to bring blessings to humans by renewing the world and to carry the dead in cycle of death and rebirth. A hypothesis for why this might have been done in a specific geographic area in the Midwest is also presented.
Robert A. Birmingham is the former Wisconsin State Archaeologist and Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. Now retired, he continues to write public-oriented books on various archaeological and historical and topics.