Greater Ancestors

World Museum

Wisconsin Mound Skulls

Wisconsin mound skull


WISCONSIN MOUND SKULLS: Top photo is of anomalous skulls found by Mr. Connolly in a South American Museum. The general opinion seems to be that they are not the result of medical deformation and are too anomalous to be the result of “binding” techniques. In addition, some of the skulls have brain vault capacities significantly in excess of modern man.

Wisconsin Mound Skulls
Skulls found in the mounds of Wisconsin are orthocephaic, while the Native American Indian skull is brachycephalic. Showing that these people were not of the Native American Indian Tribes – however through crossbreeding the Native Americans could today carry some of the traits of these people.



Madison, Wis., Aug. 9 – The largest prehistoric work in this state heretofore described, and of which the Smithsonian Institution has published a complete report, is Fort Aztalan, near Lake Mills, so named from the pyramidal mounds found there, which greatly resemble those found in Mexico. But without doubt, the most stupendous and elaborate system of defensive works in the state are found in the vicinity of this city. The celebrated mounds of Ohio and Indiana can bear no comparison either in size, design, or the skill displayed in their construction with these gigantic and mysterious monuments of earth-erected, we know not by whom, and for what purpose we can only conjecture. That the unknown race was semi-civilized is certain, as art of a high type flourished among them. Carving in stone, especially, was brought to a high degree of perfection. The art of weaving and dying cloth was known and practiced, the color used being invariably red.

Madison was, in ancient days, the centre of a teeming population numbering not less than 200,000 souls. It is situated on the northern end of a chain of five lakes, between Lakes Mendota and Monona, and extending south to Lake Wingra. It is built on a chain of hills which slope gently down to the water’s edge or end in high bluffs. This was the mound builders’ paradise in bygone ages, and the region has lost none of its natural beauty.

On the land of George Catterson, seven miles south of Madison, is a prehistoric fort. It occupies the summit and southeast side of a huge hill overlooking Lake Kegonsa. It is bounded on the east by a marsh and the cliffs of the lake on the south. It is undoubtedly a strong position for defense. The fort is square in shape. Its four outer walls are each 400 feet in length, and from the centre of each side high walls, 300 feet long, stretch out. Inside the fort, about ten feet from the first line of breastworks, extends a second, parallel to the others. In this line gates were left in the corners, and these were protected by round mounds, the tops of which show evidences of fire, for a few inches below the surface are found quantities of charcoal. In the center are three mounds in a direct line, connected with each other by a thin bank of earth. The tops of these mounds are sunken, showing that they served the purpose of “caches,” being hollow, but in the lapse of ages, the tops have caved in.

Scattered about inside the second line are six rows of earthworks about twenty feet long. A group of seventeen burial mounds occupied the northeast corner of the fort, arranged in the shape of a turtle. Two of these were opened, and interesting finds made. In the first mound opened, a layer of forest mold six inches in thickness was first removed; then seven feet of yellow clay was penetrated, and a thick bed of ashes and charcoal, in which were scattered arrowheads of flint and pottery prettily ornamented in various patterns, was brought to light. Below this was a foot of clay so hardened by the fire as to turn the edge of a spade. Beneath this was a rudely made coffin of large flat stones, probably brought from the lake. Upon being

Caving in of the lake bank every year exposes them to view. In the open field on Lake Mendota’s shore, between the Yahara River and ex-Gov. Farwell’s house, was once the battlefield in the olden time. To the north extended an almost impassable marsh, while on the southern side, a steep hill rises up from the lake shore 150 feet in height. On the topmost point stands a lookout mound, from whose summit one can command a view of the country for miles around. Long lines of fortifications extend along the lake shore, rising tier above tier, almost to the summit, one being over fifteen in length. Crowning the top are two altar mounds from which rose the smoke of sacrifices offered to the red men’s god. The ground is baked as hard as a rock from these fires.

In bygone ages, a terrible combat took place upon this open field. The place is strewn with the debris of the battle, a person living nearby having picked up hundreds of arrowheads and many axes. Every axe picked up is broken. After the fight, an excavation was made near the shore about ten feet square, which, after being lined with a peculiar substance, served the purposes of a huge coffin. In this mortuary chamber were deposited the dead. The ground near the pit is covered with flint chips, showing that weapons were manufactured on the spot to deposit with the fallen, who until this year reposed in peace. Many skeletons were found in the bank, and wherever a cave-in occurred from the encroachment of the waves more were exposed to view. This spring, the chamber was reached and exposed, but the wind in a week’s time has almost wholly choked it with sand. A high mound 600 feet long was erected over the dead. A similar one, horseshoe-shaped, measures 1,100 feet in length. It is close beside the one described and probably contains other victims of the fight. Nearly every skull in good enough preservation to be examined shows marks of violence, the cleft of the tomahawk, or the fracture caused by an arrow, which in one or two instances was found embedded in the skull.

In the construction of the mounds in this vicinity, great care was taken to remove even the smallest stone from the material used except when placed there for a purpose. A tumulus opened on the Wisconsin Hospital grounds showed stones placed in position to form a neat pattern running from the top to the bottom, and beneath this was placed the body. This vicinity gives evidence of a long occupation and a very large population. The fireplaces showed different strata of cinders and ashes, and the lower the excavations are pushed, the ruder the forms of the pottery disclosed. Calcined bones split to extract the marrow are scattered through the mass.

In the construction of the mounds, the earth was brought from long distances and differs entirely in character from the native soil. Stratification was universally practiced in building. Two forms of burial were employed. Some were buried with their weapons in the ordinary manner, while others were cremated. In no case were any weapons found with a cremated body, but only ornaments and pottery were placed within the tomb. Some were provided with rude coffins, while others were buried without them, and the clay firmly placed about the body and burned into a mass nearly as hard as brick. A number of the peculiar flint-like bones found in the head of Haploidonotus grunhilus, a fish extinct as far as these lakes are concerned, are frequently found in the mounds here.

Many implements of copper, consisting of beads, disks, spears

Wisconsin Mound Skull
There are certain “earmarks” of longevity that one can bear witness to with these ancient predecessors. The Wisconsin Mound Skulls are not the same as today’s skull beyond the obvious elongation. First the eyebrows are more prominent which would suggest a higher level of maturity.  The nose would have been much more pronounced according to the size of the nasal cavity. The ears would have been longer as well. These are what are called the earmarks of longevity and a an indicator of greater maturity.
Madison Wisconsin is in Dane County.
Chris L Lesley GAWM