Thursday, June 27, 2013

Old Copper Complex

A 12.1-ounce nugget of natural native copper from the glacial drifts of Michigan
Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Ancient Civilizations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, the Andes, and Mesoamerica are all known to have worked with copper.  A number of Native North Americans societies, referred to collectively as the Old Copper Complex, were also skilled in the production of copper weapons, tools, and ornamentation.  

Copper items have been featured in the first two books of the Timekeepers Series and will continue to be showcased in Book Three. The move from copper to bronze occurred at different time periods around the globe, so some of the cultures in our books, like the Ancient Native Americans, are still working with copper at the  same time that others, like the Shang Dynasty in Ancient China, have discovered that adding an alloy to the copper makes a stronger metal and are operating bronze foundries.

Copper was being quarried in the Great Lakes region of North America at least 6000 years ago. A little research into this subject reveals a surprising controversy.  Some investigators don’t accept the notion that the indigenous people were the miners, but rather that it was explorers from afar, including the Phoenicians or Minoans, who mined the copper. One piece of evidence supporting their theory is, well, lack of evidence. They estimate that a minimum of a half a billion tons of copper was taken from the area. Where did it go? It’s true that there was an extensive trade network across North America and Great Lakes copper artifacts were a part of that network. But could any of it have made it across the Atlantic Ocean as some claim? Skeptics dispute the idea that there is any reliable way to estimate the amount of copper mined, thus dismissing the need to account for vast missing quantities. They insist that it was indeed Native Americans who mined, worked, and traded the copper. Stay tuned for Book Three of the Timekeepers Series to find out what really happened!

To read more about the theory of Great Lakes copper being taken from American shores, see Phillip Cohen’s article Copper: a world trade in 3000 BC? at
For a more detailed discussion on the Old Copper Complex and their production methodologies,  go to This site is the culmination of more than 40 years of research and artifact collection by its creator and his father.
Go here to find out how to make your own “Miskwabik” (copper) tapered tang dart point:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interactive Websites

Studying the ancient past has never been so exciting with the abundance of interactive websites available.  At The Princeton University Art Museum, you can learn about ancient Chinese bronze casting through an interactive that “provides a schematic recreation of some techniques that were used.”  You begin by choosing a clay model and then carve designs on it. The remaining steps are depicted through user controlled animation.
Zun Vessel
Princeton University Art Museum: China Early Western Zhou dynasty, 11th–10th century B.C.      

In the BBC’s Pyramid Challenge, you’re an Egyptian vizier tasked with building a tomb for the King’s final resting place. After choosing a suitable location, you pick your design and building materials and orient your pyramid.  You must then choose your work force and select their food rations and living supplies before transporting your materials to the construction site.
Transport d'un bloc de pierre à l'aide boeufs, carrière de el-masara: "A popular Account of the Ancient Egyptians" by Sir John Gardner Wilkinson, 1854 {PD-1923}

You can also visit Virtual Museum Canada where you will participate in an interactive archaeological dig.  You can either educate yourself first by working your way through their Archeology 101 lesson or just jump right in. After digging for and retrieving artifacts, you can log them in your field notes before transporting them to and cleaning and sorting them at the lab.

This is just scratching the surface.  A web search will help you dig deeper to uncover more details about life in ancient civilizations.