A Metal of Power and Prestige: The Ancient Copper Industry of North America | Ancient Origins Members Site


A Metal of Power and Prestige: The Ancient Copper Industry of North America

A Metal of Power and Prestige: The Ancient Copper Industry of North America

There are several criteria archaeologists look for in the quest to determine the level of cultural advancement of ancient peoples. Obviously, one of these criteria is technological advancement, considered by some to truly get underway with the introduction of metallurgy.

For some time it was believed that the people who exploited the massive copper supplies from the North American Great Lakes region were members of a single cultural entity, once referred to as the Old Copper Culture. A far more interesting picture has emerged in recent decades, as archaeologists have gradually realized that Great Lakes copper was at the center of an industry for thousands of years, utilized by many different cultures. Furthermore, various dating techniques are constantly pushing the fabrication of advanced copper tools further back into America’s ancient past.

Diorama of Anishinaabe people mining copper near Lake Superior

Diorama of Anishinaabe people mining copper near Lake Superior (Ellenm1/CC BY-SA 3.0)


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