Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gunnerson, Dolores A., 1923-||Lange, Charles H.||Gunnerson, James H.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Aztalan (Wis.)--Antiquities; Mississippi River Valley--Climate


James B. Griffin has proposed that major changes in the prehistoric cultures of the Upper Mississippi Valley were responses to changes in climate that took place between A.D. 700 and 1700, Specifically, Griffin believed that a warm phase beginning about A.D, 700 permitted Middle Mississippians to settle at Aztalan, Wisconsin; and a cool trend after A.D. 1200 forced them to abandon this site. The purpose of this thesis is to test this hypothesi The procedure used in this paper is to reexamine and to reevaluate Griffin's hypothesis in the light of evidence developed since I960 when Griffin first formulated his argument. To this end, new evidence both of climatic change and of internal cultural change that could reflect adaptation to climatic change is considered. Finally, the chronology provided by radiocarbon dating has been compared to Griffin's timing of climatic and cultural events. The conclusion of this paper is that the settle­ment of Aztalan did not correspond to the climatic changes of about A.D. 700, but, instead, took place at about A.D. 1100, There is no firm evidence of cooler climate in southeastern Wisconsin after A.D. 1200; and Aztalan probably continued to be occupied at least until A.D. 1300. Lastly, the cultural changes in southern Wisconsin after A.D, 1200 can better be attributed to adaptation to particular local conditions rather than to climatic change.


Includes bibliographical references.


58 pages




Northern Illinois University

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