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:

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