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Metal-working in pre-Columbian America?

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posted on Jun, 11 2006 @ 02:52 PM
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Often, the natives of North America are seen as extremely unadvanced in their culture and technology, being set in the "Stone Age".

However there is evidence that they knew the locations of, mined, and extracted, metals, and then worked them into various objects for their own use.

Here is a very simplified presentation of the situation in the Great Lakes region.

Copper Mining on Isle Royale: Early Native Americans, Geology and Knowing the Land
The methods they used to find copper that was buried underground can tell us much about geology. A simple method for finding copper relied on close observation of the ground’s surface. Slight and long indentations represented mineral veins. Looking at the ground after a frost also revealed the location of these veins to the miners—where the rest of the grass and groundcover was whitened from the frost, the areas directly above these veins stayed unfrozen due to the dry and warm air emitted by the veins. They may have also observed noticeable changes in vegetation along mineral veins—trees may have been stunted or vegetation may have appeared discolored


These are relatively unusual things that we often don't hear about in the public area and that at first perhaps appear something to scoff at.
Here is a graphic showing Isle Royal, a proposed site of ancient copper mining in the Americas.

Sometimes this wider complex of mining cultures is refered to as the Old Copper Culture Indians (or perhaps this terminology is only used in Wisconsin).
Here is a site that looks at the evidence for an Old Copper Indian burial site.

And here is an onlilne presentation of a paper called,

The State of Our Knowledge About Ancient Copper Mining in Michigan.
I'd like to chide the professional ranks, myself included, for failing to promote real archaeology as successfully! Competently written accounts of our passion, the study of prehistory, should be out there for public consumption! The professional ranks fail to present an effective public counterpoint to archaeo-illogic.



This is yet another fascinating peice of the puzzle of history that can be overlooked by people who haven't been exposed to the research. What do some of the members here think about these ideas?




posted on Jun, 11 2006 @ 04:38 PM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
And here is an onlilne presentation of a paper called,

The State of Our Knowledge About Ancient Copper Mining in Michigan.
I'd like to chide the professional ranks, myself included, for failing to promote real archaeology as successfully! Competently written accounts of our passion, the study of prehistory, should be out there for public consumption! The professional ranks fail to present an effective public counterpoint to archaeo-illogic.


This is yet another fascinating peice of the puzzle of history that can be overlooked by people who haven't been exposed to the research. What do some of the members here think about these ideas?

Nygdan,

I had a discussion/argument with (I believe it was) Cleasterwood about the above-referenced copper mines. It was stated that the mines had been the source of copper for everyone from the Atlanteans to the Egyptians. Everyone, that is, except for the Native Americans that actually did the mining!

I posted the same link you have posted here concerning the Michigan mines and the pseudoscientific frauds that are selling books based on the misinformation concerning the amount of copper estimated to have been mined at that location.

I don't remember the exact title, but I'm sure it had the words "Anient Michigan Copper" in it.

Regarding my opinion, I don't really have one other than I find it fascinating. Copper, however, is just not all that useful except for in adornments. Also, unless I'm mistaken, it erodes rather quickly. So as far as how much use the natives actually got out of this copper, and what they used it for, that's almost pure speculation.

Harte

[edit on 6/11/2006 by Harte]



posted on Jun, 11 2006 @ 04:55 PM
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I'm going to throw in my $.02
Other copper mines in the UP also had rich silver deposits in them.
Could be maybe?? They wern't just interested in copper?



posted on Jun, 11 2006 @ 09:06 PM
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Originally posted by hawk74
I'm going to throw in my $.02

Was that a pun? Copper, 2 cents?




Other copper mines in the UP also had rich silver deposits in them.

Interesting, I am not aware of if they made use of silver or not? Would it involve anything different I wonder?


Harte
So as far as how much use the natives actually got out of this copper, and what they used it for, that's almost pure speculation

Indeed, from what I understand, to carry an edge it has to be reworked relatively often. Though it does look like they used them as knives in some instances.
copperculture.homestead.com...

Perhaps it serves a purpose in dressing animals after they are hunted. That might be infrequent enough to make it worth their while.
I have also seen some representations of natives with metal weapons as being 'out of place', though this seems to contradict at least some instances of that.



posted on Jun, 11 2006 @ 10:26 PM
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The Archaic Culture were among the first American Indians in a region of Wisconsin known as Pattison's Park. There is evidence here of copper mining as early as 5000 B.C. This site dates the copper samples at a good bit later, but nevertheless confirms the existance of copper miners long before Euro-American prospectors, and these were just a few samples taken from a more recent pit. I never really put much stock in the theories of other civilizations being the "real" miners behind it all. After all, regardless of what kinds of tools or monuments have been found near these "pits", there is no record of civlizations such as Egypt ever finding a place described such as the Americas. The same with other cultures that have been suggested, Phoenicians,...etc. Just doesn't add up. Besides, the copper may have been mined eventually, but there many examples of caves, perfectly natural in formation, that have proven to yield large sources of raw copper. What are the odds that the early Native Americans would not have discovered these, even if by accident?
This paper seems to also illustrate a convincing argument for the side of the early American tribes, as has been used before. I'd have to agree with it, mostly anyway.



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