Date of Award

December 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

John D Richards

Committee Members

Dawn S Thomae, Brian D Nicholls


Aztalan, Legacy Collections, Milwaukee Public Museum, Museum Collections, Projectile Point, Samuel Barrett


This thesis is a qualitative analysis of chipped stone projectile points from the Milwaukee Public Museum that were obtained from private collectors who reportedly surface collected these artifacts from the site of Aztalan (47-JE-0001). Private collections like these, referred to as Legacy Collections, are the result of early collecting and excavation practices, by private and professional individuals, and in this research, have been only partially examined in relation to Aztalan and mostly overlooked in favor of materials with more reliable and scientific provenience. Through this research I developed a database from the MPM's digital inventory, handwritten catalogs, accession records, and collector provided documents to identify all potential artifacts associated with Aztalan. Each object and its corresponding collector were evaluated to determine how probable it is that the artifact came from the site locality. Once completed, the projectile points from these collections were compared with the previously reported analysis of points from Samuel Barrett's excavations throughout the site (Sampson 2008). The results of this analysis show that there are significantly more types and quantities of projectile points among the privately surface collected material than are represented in the Barrett excavations. A subset of the privately collected is consistent with Barrett’s excavated assemblage but may be biased by collecting practices. Overall, research into museum legacy collections has the potential to assist us in better understanding the archaeological record of a site, as well as to recognize the potential loss from unfettered private collecting.