Old Copper Complex Flourishes in North America (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: A series of related Archaic Indian cultures in the western Great Lakes known as the Old Copper complex mined copper to produce tools and ornaments.
Summary of Event
As early as the late 1800’s, historians and archaeologists began to note the collection of copper tools and ornaments from plowed fields and exposed soils in areas of Wisconsin and Michigan. Some early scholars thought these artifacts were the products of lost races or cultures that preceded the North American Indians. However, as more and more were discovered and as archaeology advanced the understanding of North American prehistory, it became clear that Great Lakes Indians had developed a copper-based metal technology as early as 4000 b.c.e.
Between approximately 4000 and 1000 b.c.e., a number of Archaic tradition Indian groups in the western Great Lakes of North America mined and collected nearly pure copper in the Lake Superior Basin and adjacent areas. Archaeologists refer to these early copper-working cultures as the Old Copper complex. These early metalsmiths used hot- and cold-hammering, grinding, and polishing techniques to produce a variety of copper tools and ornaments. They used copper along with stone and bone technology to produce artifacts for survival and for trade.
Thousands of heavy copper tools have been recovered in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ontario. These tools include spear points,...
(The entire section is 1014 words.)
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