Updated June 2, 2020
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Lecture - Effigy Mound Ceremonial Landscapes7:30 pm at UWL Student Union, room 3310Thursday, February 21, 2019Lecture
Effigy mounds — mounds of earth sculpted in the shape of birds, bears, and other animals and figures — are concentrated in southern Wisconsin. Built between circa 700 and 1100 A.D., they were often burial places.
While researchers have learned a lot about these mounds over the years, explanations of their meaning remain elusive.
Drawing on archaeological and other anthropological information on Native American religion and worldviews, Robert A. Birmingham, lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, will share the idea that often vast effigy mound arrangements are ceremonial landscapes.
Birmingham, who is a former Wisconsin State Archaeologist, says these ceremonial landscapes reflected 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. He will also share a hypothesis for why this might have been done in a specific geographic area in the Midwest.
Now retired, he continues to write public-oriented books on various archaeological and historical and topics.