by Robert. A. Birmingham
At one time boasting an estimated 1,200 preserved mounds of various types, the Four Lakes region of present-day Madison, Wisconsin was a major center of a Native American culture that built huge effigy earthworks from A.D. 700 to 1100. Shaped as birds, bears, spirit beings, and other figures, many clusters of effigy mounds persist today as world wonders, comparable to the great megaliths of Europe.
Copiously illustrated with maps, drawings, and photographs, Spirits of Earth is a compact history and interpretation of the mounds as well as a visitor’s guide to effigy mounds in the Madison area. Archaeologist Robert Birmingham documents mounds near Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Wingra, Lake Waubesa, and Lake Kegonsa, as well as other mound sites, including Edna Conservancy Park, Elmside and Hudson Parks, Goodland County Park, Governor Nelson State Park, Indian Mound Park, the Mendota Mental Health Institute, the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, the University of Wisconsin campus, Vilas Park, Vilas Park Circle, and Woodland Park.
Robert A. Birmingham was Wisconsin State Archaeologist at the Wisconsin Historical Society for fifteen years. He now teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha and writes from his home in Madison. He us coauthor, with Leslie E, Eisenburg, of Indian Mounds of Wisconsin, and, with Lynn G. Goldstein, of Aztalan: Mysteries of an Ancient Indian Town.
“This is the most comprehensive book that any reader can find on the earthworks of prehistoric mound-building cultures in a heartland area of effigy mound construction. A welcome addition to the literature of Native America.”
—Robert L. Hall, author of An Archaeology of the Soul: North American Indian Belief and Ritual