So does Martin; that's the point. She has access to
specialists in the relevant fields who work in the UP of
Michigan--the main area of concern.
Stop pretending that only you can consult with those who know
things you don't know. In Martin's case, stop assuming that she
has no relevant education or experience herself.
Oh come on Tom, that garbage your Puppet Master keeps pointing to is
just that - garbage. I mean, I pointed to a few (out of a whole stack)
serious errors, that is quite APPALLING for anyone claiming some
knowledge on the subject to make.
YOU haven't even dared to address those "points", you merely dance to
the string pulling by your master. Do you even realise how obvious
SIR - Philosopher unauthorised
On Wed, 26 May 2004 14:15:05 GMT, Inger E Johansson wrote:
So ad hominem is fine when you do it, eh? All you can do is insult people
it seems. You clearly have no substantive arguments to make, so you say her
article is bogus, which is another of your libels -- illegal, by the way,
according to you. Can you spell hypocrite? You can do something else I
realise, you can also make stupid comments. Exactly what is there about
the situation that requires a degree in metallurgy?
I'll tell you what. Email any metallurgist at the Michigan School of mines
and ask them who is the expert in the ancient copper industry of the Lake
The amount of copper mined is not a question for metallurgists. It's an
archaeology question. But then neither you nor Seppo know anything about
archaeology. You two make a great pair, hurling abuse at anyone you
disagree with. I tracked down Seppo's comments, which you rudely cut out
without any indication of doing so. I see he says that anything on my web
site is dubious. That is pretty funny, he's rejected the main web site
arguing for evolutionary theory, and links that will take you to virtually
every serious archaeology site on the web. Why am I not surprised he
doesn't like those?
And why in the world does it bother you if there was less copper mined
there then those extreme claims? Who's the naysayer now?
Here's the article for those who don't want to read it on the web.
* The State of Our Knowledge About Ancient Copper Mining in Michigan
* The Michigan Archaeologist 41(2-3):119-138.
* Susan R. Martin 1995
* Popular literature contributes to the persistence of fantasy and
mythology surrounding ancient copper mining in Michigan. This paper points
out some of the major elements of mis-statement and myth revealed in
current popular books, and suggests why they are fallacious, using current
archaeological data about copper mining as counterpoint. Michigan's
prehistoric mining data are unique in the world. Their discovery,
description and explanation make an exciting story, one of which the
citizens of this region can be rightfully proud and of which they should
all be aware. Professional archaeologists need to build a public support
base through accessible and competently written accounts of the facts about
Michigan prehistory. Our efforts have improved in the past ten years, but
our publications still lag behind those of non-specialist authors.
* My topic today is the world-famous ancient copper industry of the Lake
Superior Basin. Since 1961 and Griffin's seminal publication of Lake
Superior Copper and the Indians we have learned a lot, archaeologically,
about prehistoric copper use (Griffin 1961) and its persistence through
prehistory. Today I also want to talk about the persistence of fantasy and
mythology surrounding ancient copper mining. Walk into any bookstore up
north these days and you'll see what I mean. Mysterious books with lurid
symbols and tales of trans-oceanic contact fill people's minds with
archaeo- illogical constructs (Sodders 1990; Sodders 1991). 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. Our efforts have improved in the past ten years, but our
publications still lag behind those of non-specialist authors. Some of this
is due to the nature of our data; they are fragile and require careful
analysis and documentation, something that casual authors clearly can put
aside, along with meeting standards of scientific evidence. Some of this is
due to the reward structure of academic life, which tends to stress
preaching to other specialists rather than expanding our public support
base. But some of this is due to having our heads, in addition to our
trowels, in the sand; this we are trying to change. I hope to help correct
this shortcoming vis a vis copper in the next year or so, with accessible
publications for an interested and literate readership. The Society for
American Archaeology's Public Education Committee has made great strides in
organizing a national campaign for archaeological literacy. There is now a
growing nationwide network of archaeological information so that interested
schoolchildren and others can readily find factual data (MacDonald 1994).
Educational materials are available for primary and secondary students and
many people, amateurs and professionals alike, are working hard to
disseminate these materials to interested people in our state. Plus our
state museum system and funding systems are trying hard to do their parts.
* Here at home however, popular books which are widely available and by all
accounts financial successes, help to perpetuate the myths that stand for
the truth about Michigan prehistory. These myths are dangerous for the
* 1) They detract from the pressing need to preserve archaeological sites.
Some of these publications announce that the sites are already destroyed
(Sodders 1990:27-28), which is absolutely false. The trouble here is that
the public may be persuaded to disregard important site protection issues
based on wrong information.
* 2) They put people's energies into false hopes of splendid and snazzy
discoveries (which encourages site looting) rather than into productive
activity, such as training in excavation, analysis of artifacts, and site
preservation and protection.
* 3) They're so sensational that people are liable to devalue the facts in
favor of the fantasy. Archaeology gets a bad name when it takes away
people's pet myths, even if they're irrational!
* 4) These authors overlook the requirements of science, particularly those
about testing hypotheses objectively, yet offer speculations as though they
were scientific fact. This failure to distinguish fact from fiction
disadvantages people in a culture such as ours that prides itself in
generating literacy but also succeeds in the generation of misinformation!
Telling truth from myth is an important skill for citizenship, no matter
what the subject.
* Most of the myths take their 'truth' from mantra-like repetition rather
than empirical evidence. In fact try as I have, it's often impossible to
find the original sources of some of the ideas accepted as fact in these
volumes! For example, when I read about the area in which I've lived and
done fieldwork for twenty years, that being Houghton County, Michigan, I'm
simply amazed! According to these books, there is evidence, everywhere, of
Phoenicians, Bronze Age Europeans, and others sailing copper-laden
flotillas from the Keweenaw home to the Old World! And I've apparently been
asleep at the switch the whole time because I sure never found any such
* I'd like today to point out some of the major elements of mis-statement
and myth revealed in these books, and to suggest why they are fallacious,
using current archaeological data about copper mining as counterpoint. The
copper myths include two major themes that have plagued archaeological
thinking since the nineteenth century: who were the miners and where is all
the copper? These themes are part of a general widespread myth that began
several centuries ago, about the origins of North American indigenous
people, a myth which is also responsible for racist judgments about the
sophistication of indigenous American technologies (Williams 1991:23-24).
The tenacity of this myth in the face of archaeological evidence is rather
difficult to explain. Williams suggests that its appeal is in part based on
nationalism, on ethnic pride, and on a deep-felt pan-human trait in which
"strength of belief is paramount over strength of evidence" (Williams
1991:24). I recommend that you take a look at the Williams book for a very
complete and entertaining account of the histories of marginal hypotheses
and fantasies in archaeological inquiry.
* The Enigmatic and Inscrutable Copper Culture People
* MYTH: Turning now to the question of who the copper culture people were,
a primary misstatement is that the copper was worked by a "virtually
unknown race of people" (Sodders 1990:12).
* FACT: Who, indeed, is this unknown race? Martians following Dr. Spock and
the crew of the starship Enterprise? The race, if you are willing to use
such a misapplied term, that is responsible for the prehistoric copper
exploitation of Michigan, is none other than the race that discovered the
continent, the indigenous American Indians. There are no discontinuities in
biological variation in the Upper Great Lakes or in the rest of the
Americas for that matter. There is unbroken continuity in populations,
based on skeletal and artifact evidence, in the Upper Great Lakes, and
there is absolutely no evidence that there is anything unusual or
biologically separate about the populations that lived in the Upper Great
Lakes during prehistory. To conclude otherwise is clearly a part of
someone's separate reality. The trouble with this mystifying statement is
that it also suggests that there is some scientific basis for drawing
discrete racial boundaries based on archaeological information. This
conclusion is absolutely false.
* Actual studies of the archaeological record in Michigan tell a completely
different story. Archaeological research on the national forests of the
Upper Peninsula, at the region's national parks, by the Michigan
Archaeological Society, and by Michigan's universities during the past few
years expanded our understanding of prehistoric site locations, both of
mining and camp sites, of the many prehistoric copper-using cultures in our
region. The National Park Service supported five years of historic and
prehistoric research on Isle Royale from 1985-1990, expanded the site
location data base, tested many sites, and monitored conditions at others.
Major research reports, journal articles, paper presentations and one
dissertation are the collective result. This systematic and extensive
research program expanded our knowledge about prehistoric pottery-using
people, and turned up no evidence, anywhere, of non-native exploitation of
prehistoric copper (Clark 1988; Clark 1990; Clark 1991; Martin 1988a;
Martin 1988b; Martin 1990; Martin, Martin and Gregory 1994).
* MYTH: The second misstatement has to do with the duration of the
prehistoric mining era, which is quoted to last from 3000 B.C. to 900 A.D.
* FACT: The duration of prehistoric mining is really much longer than this
rough estimate. The dates and ranges of time for prehistoric copper use are
really from about seven thousand years ago to protohistoric times. Suites
of dates from the Upper Peninsula and nearby areas make it clear that the
age of the use of copper lasts longer and extends farther than Sodders
suggests. It does NOT extend as far as Phoenicia or the European Bronze
Age, however! There is a growing cluster of sites with dates in the range
of 7 thousand years ago, found at South Fowl Lake, MN; Lac LaBelle, MI and
Oconto, WI (Beukens 1992; Martin 1993; (Mason 1981). There are at least
three sites with typologically old lithics in the company of copper: at
Itasca, MN; at sites in the Deer Lake, MI area; and at sites in the North
Lakes region, WI (Clark 1991; Salzer 1974; Shay 1971). While certainly
provisional at present, it is possible that copper-working is associated
with sites of PaleoIndian and/or Early Archaic technology northwest of the
Superior basin as well (Steinbring 1991).
* MYTH: The third misstatement has to do with repeated suggestions of Old
World contact, such as in the following two segments: "This new wave of
"open-mindedness" brought additional scientific theories regarding the
Copper Culture people. It was further believed that a Norse King named
Woden-lithi left his mark near Toronto in the year 1700 B.C. He left behind
petroglyphs and writings to indicate his visit was a trading mission for a
well-established copper trade that was known to have existed in the Lake
Superior Region some 1000 years before his visit. Evidently the Keweenaw
copper industry was well established when the Norse King paid North America
a visit!" (Sodders 1990:13) and "it appears entire flotillas of Norse,
Baltic and Celtic ships crossed the Atlantic to enter into trade wars with
the Algonquians for rich mineral deposits" (Sodders 1990:14).
* FACT: There is absolutely no archaeological evidence that anyone but
indigenous Americans and subsequent French, British and Euro-American
miners took copper from the Keweenaw. In contrast to speculative stuff and
nonsense, here's an actual archaeological fact to consider: all cultures
make garbage! Show me some Norse garbage reliably dated to 1700 B.C. in the
Toronto area in pristine context and I'll sign on readily in support of
these hypotheses! What does it take to support them? Archaeological data!
It's not much to ask, given the firm conclusions that have been reached by
some authors. If these conclusions are to be accepted by science,
scientific standards of skeptical inquiry must be upheld. Otherwise it's
archaeo-illogic, not archaeology. Large-scale migrations leave evidence:
witness the global evidence of the expansion of European technologies
during the fifteenth-sixteenth century A.D. If Bronze Age folks transported
themselves to North America there'd be something left behind as material
evidence. Anyone who's ever been on a prehistoric archaeological site in
the Upper Great Lakes knows what levels of trash can be generated by
low-level-consumer cultures such as those of American prehistory. Why, in
contrast to everyone else in world history, are these alleged Bronze Age
people so neat, tidy, and garbage-free?
* The competent excavation of many prehistoric archaeological sites in the
Lake Superior basin reveals the continuous use of copper throughout the
prehistoric time range, in association with all of the other items of
material culture (projectile points, pottery and the like) that are without
a doubt the products of native technologies. Many of these sites have been
dated reliably by radiocarbon means (Table 1). Clearly, copper-working
continues up until the years of aboriginal contact with seventeenth-century
Europeans. The speculators could at least acknowledge these facts rather
than pretend that the association of copper with indigenous people doesn't
exist. The fact is, the campsites of indigenous peoples of the Upper Great
Lakes contain everything consistent with a long-lived continuous regional
hunting/gathering/fishing adaptation, and contain nothing attributable to
European cultures until the seventeenth century A.D.
* MYTH: The fourth misstatement: a quiet racism extolling the abilities of
the Old World peoples and implicitly denigrating the accomplishments of New
World indigenous peoples.
* "At a much later period many of these early visitors eventually settled
permanently in the Americas. Some, it has been said, mingled with local
native tribes...From a realistic point of view, the Bronze Age produced
races of people that were definitely not only literate, but also well
educated. Here in the New World they left behind a lasting legacy
containing rock inscriptions ..."(Sodders 1990:14).
* FACT: The implication here is that intellectual achievement, writing and
education are allegedly related to biological mixtures of European genes.
This reasoning is false and so are its implications. In addition, the
alleged inscriptions and their 'translations' are without evidence
(Williams 1991:285). In fact, indigenous metal-working technologies are
incredibly sophisticated, and this sophistication has been repeatedly
documented over the past century, beginning at least with F. H. Cushing
(Cushing 1894). More recently, experimental studies have provided much
information on the formation of prehistoric copper artifacts. Studies of
copper materials through scanning electron microscopy and other
metallographic studies are informing more and more about the sequential
physical changes that hammering, cold working and annealing bring about in
copper artifacts, and the sophistication of the varied technologies
involved. There is a vast body of accessible data about these processes
(Childs 1994; Leader 1988; Vernon 1986).
* MYTH: Fifth, a misunderstanding of Ojibwa folk tales and world view, as
revealed in the following quote. "Let me add quickly that these fables more
or less afford positive proof against the possibility that early Indian
races were the original ancient copper mining people"(Sodders 1990:15).
* FACT: Fortunately there is an extensive body of scholarship about Ojibwa
myth and world view related to copper (Bourgeois 1994; Hamell 1987, Vecsey
1983). This information is easy to come by; in a recent quick count I found
at least seventeen authors who deal with the general mythology of the Lake
Superior Ojibwa. Scholars conclude that Ojibwa myths demonstrate that the
indigenous peoples of this region are the copper users, which of course is
supported by archaeological evidence of worked copper in virtually all of
their prehistoric camp sites in the Lake Superior basin. Everywhere around
the world, cultures record myths about their environmental surroundings and
imbue them with power. In the case of the Lake Superior basin, powerful
mythic underwater creatures or manitous were believed to control copper and
other resources, including animals used for food, good weather for fishing,
etc., which were dispensed or held back depending on immediate
circumstances, those being the negotiated terms of exchange with humans.
Power, after all, is double-edged and can be used for good or for bad;
sometimes these underwater creatures tipped over canoes and drowned their
occupants, and other times calmed the waters after receiving appropriate
tokens of appreciation from humans, such as sacrificed dogs, tobacco, cloth
and the like. Sodders apparently connects the down-side of this
double-edged power with Ojibwa stories about avoiding copper localities,
and concludes that the indigenous people of the region couldn't be the
copper users. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, the
manitous and their powers according to Ojibwa myth are seen as an extension
of the human social world. Humans and not-so-humans strive to influence
each other through ritual exchange (Hamell 1987:68-70) in which copper was
one medium among many. Power was also believed to reside in copper itself,
according to Ojibwa myth ( (Kohl 1956). Copper was considered by some to
contain powerful medicine, a great medium for ritual exchange, that brought
wealth, health and well-being (Barnouw 1977:133). This is probably why it
was worn by and buried with children (Heckenberger 1990;, Hruska 1967). In
addition, contact-era Ojibwa people had every reason to dissemble about the
locations of copper deposits and their significance. After all, powerful
strangers were trying to gain access to Ojibwa lands, primarily to extract
culturally-valued resources. Why aid and abet this attempted seizure by
revealing everything about copper? There is nothing inconsistent about the
myths regarding copper and native use of it; in fact copper use is
completely consistent with the Ojibwa world view and with the
archaeological record of the basin.
* MYTH: The language used betrays a misunderstanding of geology and
geological processes. For example, the Ontonagon Boulder is referred to as
"that freak mass of pure copper" (Sodders 1990:17). Later on, another
trumped-up mystery is presented: "even hidden copper veins that did not
directly surface as mineral outcroppings were previously tapped by these
people from the past...one can but speculate as to this early race's
inscrutable method of ore detection" (1990:28).
* FACT: Native copper deposits come in may forms, from filling linear
fissures, to conglomerate deposits, to amygdaloid deposits. Each is useful,
but requires differing extraction and treatment routines to make it so.
Mass copper is not unusual at all; Sodders herself documents many other
mass occurrences as do other early chroniclers. It's also well-known that
geological copper appears in systematic patterns with indicator rock and
typical land forms nearby; there is no cause to prescribe 'inscrutability'
to this fact of geology. It's quite possible that native cultures were
better at finding copper than Europeans were, seeing as how the indigenous
peoples had been adapting to their home region for 6000 years or more!
* There is also an extensive body of materials science literature which
documents the expansion of our knowledge base about local sources of
copper, by relating the elemental composition of beds of copper to regional
trace element profiles, as well as by linking the trace elements in
individual artifacts to geological sources of similar elemental content.
These methods are very successful in distinguishing European from native
copper, alloys of copper from the metal in its native state, and smelted
copper from cold hammered materials (Childs 1994; Hancock 1991; Rapp 1984).
By these means, it's relatively easy to demonstrate the eventual shift to
European metals and technology which, sadly for the Atlantic
neo-diffusionists, occurs in the first quarter of the seventeenth century
in the Upper Great Lakes rather than during anyone's Bronze Age.
* MYTH: Attributing strangeness, or "other-ness," to the copper miners is
an essential element in the copper myth, as we have seen earlier. One
colleague refers to this as the "pygmy Phoenician" phenomenon (Mark Hill,
personal communication, 1994). Other standard elements in the copper
mythology are fantastic accounts of the alleged laborious feats of copper
extraction: "What gang of primitive workers labored so diligently to raise
this ponderous weight some five feet plus off the floor of that early
mining pit? Better yet, one cannot help but marvel at the standards by
which they accomplished this super-incredible feat" (Sodders 1990:22), and
"Who were the common people who performed this almost impossible feat of
labor? Once more, was slave labor employed?" (1990:30).
* FACT: They were very ordinary people indeed! That's because they were not
pygmy Phoenician voyageur slaves but indigenous Americans. I know that this
is a shocking statement for a lot of people but some were probably women.
Turning away from obsessions with mining feats, and looking at
copper-working in situ, gives insight into the social framework of copper
fabrication technologies. If one considers the manufacture and manipulation
of the most numerous and long-lived copper artifact type, the bead, some
rather interesting possibilities arise. For example, the contents of the
excavated copper cache at 20KE20 (Martin 1993) suggest a woman's tool kit
for copper bead fabrication as well as other probable gender-specific tasks
such as food preparation and skin-working. The artifacts of interest are
awls and an ulu, both of which are regularly connected with women's
subsistenceactivities (Penman 1977); Thomas Pleger, personal communication
1995). The beads of the cache represent a range of sizes and manufacturing
techniques, and were probably prepared for a variety of wearers, including
children. Archaeologists, after all, try to connect real materials,
recovered archaeologically, with real human social behavior, rather than
with feats of imaginary brute strength by imaginary invaders.
* MYTH: The mythmakers now approach their major challenge. How do they
explain away the fact that there's absolutely no material evidence to
support their speculations about Bronze Age exploitation, about Old World
import/export trade in copper, about flotillas of Phoenicians? This is a
snap for these inventive people! You simply turn logic on its head, and use
the lack of evidence itself as explanation! There are three avenues of
alleged explanation offered: one, nineteenth century mining destroyed the
ancient evidence; two, the enigmatic miners were so inscrutable that they
never left anything behind to begin with; and three, a _subsequent_ mystery
race scavenged everything of use! "Additionally, these ancient people left
no dead, no household goods, no pottery...no apparent cultural evidence was
discovered to provide clues to this timeworn puzzle. Remember....workers
just seemed to walk right off their jobs!" (Sodders 1990:32-33). "It is
indeed evident that these mysterious people came to the Copper Country,
worked thousands of these copper pits, over an undetermined number of
years, took out vast hoards of copper, then as baffling as it may seem,
mysteriously just disappeared, leaving their tools exactly where they lay"
(1990:18). And "Sadly to say, early prospectors and subsequent mine workers
literally destroyed most of these ancient pits and primitive tools"
(1990:27). Finally, "Why have the temporary camp sites at least, never been
located? Were these itinerant villages perhaps looted by a later race of
people who in turn removed anything and everything they deemed of value,
leaving behind just the cumbersome stone hammers, mauls and other mining
* FACT: I agree that prehistory has disappeared from our immediate view.
All that is left of prehistory is its irreplaceable artifact evidence and
the contexts in which that evidence is found. These are all the data
archaeologists have to go on; they are extremely fragile and admittedly
incomplete. But all known archaeological deposits in Michigan are
consistent with long-lived adaptations of indigenous American people. The
native people of the Upper Great Lakes did leave burials, villages, and
pottery, which constitute the prehistoric archaeological record of this
state. No number of invented inscrutable mythic races can undo this
archaeological fact. Contrary to what is suggested in the preceding
paragraph, the remains of the prehistoric copper cultures are not all
destroyed, at least not yet. However they are very threatened by shoreline
development, by construction plans of all kinds, and mostly by thoughtless
and selfish metal-detecting and illegal collecting of copper artifacts.
* A Mathematical Mystery Tour, or the Prehistoric Numbers Game
* Now we turn to the second major theme in the copper culture myth, that of
the dogma of the missing copper. Where did all the copper go? This theme is
formulated on a calculus of mythic arithmetic, a prehistoric numbers game!
The mythic calculations involve the numbers and depths of copper extraction
pits, the numbers and weights of stone hammers, the percentage volume of
copper per mining pit, the numbers of miners, and the years of mining
duration. Ultimately, the mix of these numbers yields the alleged total
amount of extracted prehistoric copper, that being in the range of 1 to 1.5
billion pounds. It's difficult to attribute this branch of mathematics to
any one individual, but if there's credit to be given, it should be given
first to Drier and Du Temple (Drier and Du Temple 1961) and then to a
Chicago-area writer named Henrietta Mertz, who lays out her numerology
proposals in a book entitled Atlantis: Dwelling Place of the Gods (Mertz
1967). In contrast, I propose that none of these numbers, save those
related to the weight of the hammers, are actually knowable in an empirical
sense. We'll start then on our firmest ground, the weights of the hammers.
* MYTH: A primary aspect of the mathematical mystery tour is the use of
numbers, most unreferenced as to source, to present what is supposed to
pass as scientific substance to claims of prehistoric mining feats. The
following account of the myth also includes the doctrine of the grooved
versus the ungrooved hammers. "Rudimentary mining activities existed with
the use of crude 20-pound stone hammers. Oddly enough, the hammers found on
the mainland were grooved, to be held in place by perhaps a thong of sorts,
while those discovered in the Isle Royale pits, were nongrooved...perhaps
handheld" (Sodders 1990:17-18). "....the hammers averaged from 6 to 8
pounds and measured approximately 8 inches in length. On one occasion, a
maul was recorded to have weighed a hefty 39 1/2 pounds and subsequently
was fitted with two grooves instead of the normal one" (1990:27). "On one
occasion at the Island's Minong Mine location, over 1000 tons of stone
hammers were found, representing a staggering tool count of some 200,000 to
300,000 items" (1990:27).
* FACT: Until recently only Tyler Bastian and Burton Straw had ever, to my
knowledge, counted, weighed and measured large collections of hammerstones
from the mainland and the island and documented hammerstone characteristics
(Bastian 1963; Straw 1962). Looking at a collection of 193 hammers from
Isle Royale, Bastian reported that ca. 5% were grooved, such as the one
illustrated in Figure 3[omitted], collected from an archaeological deposit
at the Siskowit Mine on Isle Royale. In a related study, two-thirds of
hammers measured from the mainland were found to be grooved (Straw 1962).
According to Bastian, it is very difficult to "distinguish slightly
modified, or heavily weathered, hammerstones, from ordinary cobbles and
boulders..." (Bastian 1963:288). Bastian states that it is possible that
reports of very heavy hammerstones are a result of mis-identifying ordinary
beach cobbles as hammers; he also states that there may be two size classes
of hammerstones on Isle Royale (1963:289-290). Weights in Bastian's study
ranged from 1 1/2 to 26 pounds. Additional work on hammerstones was carried
out this year at Michigan Tech (Sieders 1995) on a collection of
hammerstones (n = 82) taken from the Mass City, Michigan area. In this
collection, the weights of the hammers ranged from 11 ounces to 17 pounds,
and greater than 80% of the collection weighed less than 4 pounds. Sieders
also suggests that there may be two kinds of hammerstones, to accomplish
two different mining functions. What's important to learn is this: not only
are the actual weights much reduced from the estimated ones, but also the
measurements taken from these hammerstone studies are replicable and
verifiable, as opposed to estimated and repeated as gospel. In addition,
the unsubstantiated grooved/ungrooved dogma falls, and it's about time.
* MYTH: Other elements that are found in many copper culture myths are
mantra-like repetitions of numbers that combine the head count of miners, a
time duration of mining, and mining pit counts into an algorithm of total
exploited copper. "Furthermore it is believed that as many as 10,000
miners, labored some 1000-plus years, in an estimated 10,000 Copper Range
pits" (Sodders 1990:30). Essentially the same mathematical alchemy is
reported by Drier and Du Temple, who add that the total amount of removed
copper approaches 1 to 1.5 billion pounds:
* "If one assumes that an average pit is 20 feet in diameter and 30 feet
deep, then it appears that something like 1000 to 1200 tons of ore were
removed per pit. If the ore averaged five percent, or 100 pounds per ton
then approximately 100,000 pounds of copper were removed per pit. If 5000
pits existed, as earlier estimates indicated (and all pits are copper
bearing), then 100,000 pounds per pit in 5000 pits means that 500,000,000
pounds of copper were mined in prehistoric times - all of it without
anything more than fire, stone hammers, and manpower. If the ore sampled 15
percent, and if more than 5000 pits existed, then over 1.5 billion pounds
of copper were mined (Drier and Du Temple 1961:17).
* Henriette Mertz tells it more plainly and lays culpability at the toes of
the archaeological profession: "This incredible amount of copper has not
been accounted for by American archaeologists ..... the sum total according
to archaeological findings here in the States amounts to a mere handful of
copper beads and trinkets.....float copper. Five hundred thousand tons of
pure copper does not disintegrate into thin air. It cannot be sneezed
away......it must be somewhere, and to date, it has not been located in the
United States," and "99.9% is still to be accounted for" (Mertz 1976:18).
Mertz concludes, of course, that the copper was disappeared by Old World
Bronze Age metal mongers.
* FACT: The figures are made up out of thin air and can be sneezed away.
That's because no one has a means to measure any of these variables
accurately or with any precision. All of these figures are built on
ill-constructed estimates. Let's examine the variable "percentage of copper
in the trap rock" as an example. Clearly, the actual percentage of copper
in rock varies from none (plain old rock) to one hundred percent (Ontonagon
Boulder). Additionally, while the course of copper in trap rock is somewhat
predictable, the amount of copper isn't necessarily constant or even
regular. Many failed mining concerns of the nineteenth century found out
this fact of geology the hard way! The counts of copper pits, the sizes of
pits, and the weight of removed trap are 1) either arbitrarily-chosen
numbers, or 2) variable in reality; despite this they are used as constants
in the algorithm. Drier and Du Temple used a constant for copper percentage
(error) and then multiply it by an estimated number of pits (error
inherent) of a constant size (error), counting some and extrapolating to
unknown areas (another error). Because we know that pits are not randomly
but systematically located, excavated and followed, it makes no sense to
extend their probable locations to unknown areas unless one is willing to
accomodate enormous errors. In these algorithms, error compounds error
compounds error. The resultant sums are a statement of faith, not fact; the
numerologists may as well be counting angels dancing on heads of pins.
* Can We Agree with the Mythmakers on Anything?
* After all this complaining, can we agree at all with the generators and
perpetrators of these myths? Why, yes, as a matter of fact. There are two
statements Sodders makes that I'd go to the wall for as a professional
archaeologist. One is this: There are a good number of things scientists
know (and admittedly, don't know)..." (1990:12). This is absolutely the
fact; in fact it's the key to differentiating science from non-science.
Scientists subject their pet hypotheses to rigorous testing, and proclaim
all conclusions to be provisional: that is, temporary, always subject to
disproof by new discoveries. Our knowledge of prehistory is incomplete, and
everybody I know in this endeavor would jump to acknowledge that fact.
While I am so far confident that no evidence to date undermines the
conclusion that indigenous Americans mined copper, we must, as scientists,
hold to the principle that we will change our tunes when presented with
novel and compelling data, such as reliably dated Norse (or Bronze Age or
Phoenician) garbage in pristine context! Those data, of course, will also
be subjected to rigorous skeptical scrutiny, and so on forever. All
scientific conclusions are temporary and contingent. It's as simple as
that. Mistakes are made when pet conclusions are upheld despite the power
of contradictory data. This is the sort of error that is being perpetuated
by archaeo-illogical books.
* Now on to the second statement with which Sodders will find wide
agreement amongst archaeologists: "The ancient prehistory copper pits found
along the 120-mile Copper Range of the Keweenaw Peninsula represent one of
the most unique aspects of prehistoric remains found in Michigan today"
(1990:21). I'd actually go beyond this to state that Michigan's prehistoric
mining data are unique in the world. Their discovery, description and
explanation make an exciting story, one of which the citizens of this
region can be rightfully proud and of which they should all be aware. There
is no need to cloak this story in mystery to make it interesting; all that
mythic silly chatter does is generate misinformation. Sadly in that
pursuit, the true value of the archaeological record, to inform us about
our unique past, is forgotten and ignored. In my opinion, it is the duty of
the professional archaeological corps to make accessible their collective
findings about the past and thereby to build public support for the study
of archaeology and the conservation of the archaeological record. This is a
task too important to leave to casual authors.
* Given its global significance, it is particularly important that the
archaeological record be carefully preserved in our state. Archaeological
fieldwork and data collection, as other forms of scholarship, can be slow,
unrewarding, lonely and somewhat tedious processes and are not pastimes for
the fainthearted, nor for the untrained. Thoughtless searching for
artifacts, or excavation without training, can ruin the unique and fragile
record of the past. But many interesting discoveries continue to be made
about prehistory in our unique region. Some of these discoveries forever
change our way of thinking about the past; others are rather mundane and
predictable. Most archaeologists, professional and avocational alike, only
take part in the latter kind of discovery. But all valid archaeological
discoveries and scientific conclusions about them are based on material
evidence, first and foremost. The Michigan Archaeological Society plays a
critical role in the discovery and documentation of the story of Michigan's
past, a role that we can continue if we expand our base of support while
replacing a frivolous story with one full of the richness of scientific
inquiry, and disseminating that story to the public.
* Acknowledgments. This paper is a revision of an address presented to the
1995 Annual Meeting of the Michigan Archaeological Society, East Lansing,
Michigan, April 23, 1995. I'd like to thank Scott Beld for encouraging me
to submit these thoughts to The Michigan Archaeologist for publication.
Thanks to Mark Hill for introducing the pgymy Phoenicians to Michigan
* Department of Social Sciences/Archaeology Lab Michigan Technological
University Houghton MI 49931
* REFERENCES CITED
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of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI.
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Park, Michigan. Unpublished M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology,
University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
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P.J. Julig and W. Ross 1992 Radiocarbon dating of copper-preserved
organics. Radiocarbon 34 (3):890-897.
* Bourgeois, Arthur P. 1994 Ojibwa Narratives of Charles and Charlotte
Kawbawgam and Jacques LePique, 1893-1895, recorded with notes by Homer H.
Kidder. Wayne State University Press, Detroit.
* Childs, S. Terry 1994 Native copper technology and society in eastern
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proceedings of a symposium organized by the UCLA Institute of Archaeology
and the Getty Conservation Institute, edited by David A. Scott and Pieter
Meyers, pp. 229-253. The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles.
* Clark, Caven P. 1988 Survey and testing at Isle Royale National Park,
1987 season. Midwest Archeological Center, National Park Service, Lincoln,
* 1990 Archeological survey and testing at Isle Royale National Park,
1986-1990 Seasons. Midwest Archeological Center, National Park Service,
* 1991 Group composition and the role of unique raw materials in the
Terminal Woodland substage of the Lake Superior basin. Unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University, East
* Cushing, Frank H. 1894 Primitive copper working: an experimental study.
American Anthropologist 7:93-117.
* Drier, Roy W. and Octave J. Du Temple 1961 Prehistoric copper mining in
the Lake Superior region: a collection of reference articles. Published
privately, Calumet, MI and Hinsdale, IL.
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miscellaneous studies of Great Lakes prehistory. Anthropological Papers 17.
Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
* Hamell, George R. 1987 Mythical realities and European contact in the
Northeast during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Man in the
* Hancock, R.G.V., L.A. Pavlish, R.M. Farquhar, R. Salloum, W.A. Fox, and
G.C. Wilson 1991 Distinguishing European trade copper and northeastern
North American native copper. Archaeometry 33(1): 69-86.
* Heckenberger, Michael, James Peterson, Louise Basa, Ellen Cowie, Arthur
Spiess, and Robert Stuckenrath 1990 Early Woodland period mortuary
ceremonialism in the far northeast: a view from the Boucher cemetery.
Archaeology of Eastern North America 18:109-144.
* Hruska, Robert 1967 The Riverside site: A Late Archaic manifestation in
Michigan. The Wisconsin Archaeologist 48 (3):145- 260.
* Kohl, Johann G. 1956 Kitchi-Gami: wanderings round Lake Superior. Ross
and Haines, Inc., Minneapolis, MN.
* Leader, Jonathan M 1988 Technological continuities and specialization in
prehistoric metalwork in the eastern United States. Unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Florida,
* MacDonald, Cathy 1994 Kids 'n' digs: programs that target all grades.
Archaeology and Public Education 5 (2):5-7.
* Martin, Patrick E. 1988a Historic sites investigations, 1987. Michigan
Technological University, submitted to MWAC, National Park Service,
* 1988b Technical report on archaeological survey and evaluation, Isle
Royale National Park, 1986. Archaeology Laboratory, Michigan Technological
University, Houghton, MI.
* 1990 Mining on Minong: copper mining on Isle Royale. Michigan History 74
* Martin, Patrick E., Susan R. Martin, and Michael Gregory 1994 Technical
report: 1987-1988, Isle Royale archaeology. Report of Investigations 16.
Michigan Technological University Archaeology Laboratory, Houghton, MI.
* Martin, Susan R., ed. 1993 20KE20: excavations at a prehistoric copper
workshop. The Michigan Archaeologist 39 (3- 4):127-193.
* Mason, Ronald J. 1981 Great Lakes archaeology. Academic Press, New York.
* Mertz, Henriette 1967 Atlantis: dwelling place of the gods. Privately
* Penman, John 1977 The Old Copper culture: an analysis of Old Copper
artifacts. The Wisconsin Archeologist 58 (1):3-23.
* Rapp, G., E. Henrickson and J. Allert 1984 Trace element discrimination
of discrete sources of native copper, in Archaeological Chemistry III,
edited by J. Lambert, pp. 273-294. American Chemical Society, Washington,
* Salzer, Robert J. 1974 The Wisconsin North Lakes project: a preliminary
report, in Aspects of Upper Great Lakes prehistory: papers in honor of
Lloyd A. Wilford, edited by Elden Johnson, pp. 40-54. Minnesota Prehistoric
Archaeology Series 11. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, MN.
* Shay, C. Thomas 1971 The Itasca bison kill site: an ecological analysis.
Minnesota Prehistoric Archaeology Series 6. Minnesota Historical Society,
St. Paul, MN.
* Sieders, Barbara 1995 Aboriginal copper mining: stone hammers. Ms. on
file at the Archaeology Laboratory, Michigan Technological University,
* Sodders, Betty 1990 Michigan prehistory mysteries. Avery Color Studios,
Au Train. Michigan.
* Sodders, Betty 1991 Michigan prehistory mysteries II. Avery Color
Studios, Au Train, Michigan.
* Steinbring, Jack 1991 Early copper artifacts in western Manitoba.
Manitoba Archaeological Quarterly 1 (1):25-61.
* Straw, Burton 1962 Copper mining hammerstones from Upper Michigan. The
Wisconsin Archeologist 43 (3):76.
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changes. The American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.
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Copper industry. MASCA Journal 3 (5):154-163.
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American prehistory. The University of Pennsylvania Press, Phildelphia.
* Dr. Susan R. Martin
* Program in Industrial History and Archaeology
* Michigan Technological University
* Houghton MI 49931-1295 US of A
That article/address is all very well as far as it goes but it is
primarily directed at attacking various erroneous beliefs or views of
the matter of which the author disapproves. It does virtually nothing
to answer the original question raised by Gunner in his Message-ID:
"Yet some race of antiquity had carried away millions of pounds
of native copper. This puzzle is one of the great prehistoric
mysteries of North America."
For example, there is considerable dispute over both the quantities of
copper which have been removed and the time span over which it was
removed. It would be hard to match some claims short of a modern
mining operation. Reducing the claimed quantities removed and
increaasing the time span over which they were removed brings the
question into the realms of feasability for a primitive society. Facts
are more effective than diatribe when it comes to speculations such as
those in http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf090/sf090a01.htm
LOL! Betty Sodders writing in _Ancient American_.
Exactly how much debunking do you think that crap needs?
Martin showed the funny math upon which that whole edifice
stands, and did so based on her own long and informed
experience. She also pointed out that copper from the area has
been used, mostly via mining, for at least 5000 years. And the
noted that while we note several main periods of copper use
(e.g.: the Old Copper industry, the Hopewell and Mississippian
periods), copper use at some level was going on for most of that
True, it would be nice to have an estimate of the total tonnage
of copper removed from the UP and Northern Wisconsin. However,
Martin pointed out the difficulty in doing so, and therefore the
vacuousness of the 500,000 to 1.5 billion tons claimed by the
sensationalists. One might also note that the many citations of
these figures in various books and articles all seem to be
traceable back to two or three sources; and yet they are quoted
by all these folks as though they were proven because of how
many people write about them!
One might also notice the absence of archaeological evidence
showing anyone but Indians doing the mining and using the
copper. Since this is an archaeology ng, and since the issue is
amenable to archaeological investigation, and since Dr. Martin
is an archaeologist who has conducted relevant archaeological
investigations for a good number of years, does it not make some
sense to pay attention when she says that she knows of no
evidence for non-Indian exploitation of the copper.
But of course one might look for articles by Martin, or even
contact her with questions.
If its going to be debunked then polemics is not the way to go. That
is my point!
I accept that some of the facts are contained in her article but the
ore concentration in that lode is lower than that of the copper
deposits of which she is writing. Doug's page is aimed at debunking
with informing coming a poor third.
Don't know about you, but I suspect many conferences have at
least one speaker who expresses the frustration of the
membership about the inanities of those who want to believe. In
this case, polemic (with significant evidence interspersed, BTW)
is appropriate. It is not sufficient, but the truth in it ought
not to be ignored.
Don't you ever get frustrated at the numbskullishness of folks
without a clue who pretend to know more than you and your peers?
I see Doug's page as giving a lot of information, of varying
academic quality, to address the huge wave of crap archaeology
out there. As for debunking, information is part and parcel of
Yes, but you have to remember that my objection was raised in the
context of Doug citing her article as the authoritative source on the
subject. My point really was that it really was an academic polemical
diatribe rather than an academic source of information.
But was it peer reviewed? :-)
I should have said but who in this thread was really arguing that
there was significant non-Indian exploitation of the copper?
Doug was citing Martin as an authority on the subject. He
didn't say that the cited material was the last word on it.
This is what Doug said when presenting the url:
"The article here:
is written by the person who is probably the leading authority
on the subject. She looks at the questions you raise."
She *is* such an authority. She *did* look at the questions
raised in the url Doug gave. He did _not_ say that the quoted
material was the final word. It was, however, a good, quick
statement of her opinion on some of the main issues at play.
By all means, anyone interested in the topic can go to the
horse's mouth for more and better information. But the original
question was general and vague, and based on the bad scholarship
floating around free. Martin's response not a fully scholarly
article, but it had more relevant experience to back it up than
anyone on the other side has presented recently.
I haven't plumbed the depths of Sodder's theories as much as I
have Von Daniken's. Probably because VD is so catholic in his
fantasies that I'm at enough distance to be amused rather than
irritated at them.
What I've read of Sodder's work strikes closer to home for me,
to the extent that it discusses things I know about and people I
feel have been treated dismissively by a certain type of
misguided 'investigators'. I've known a number of Anishnabe,
Menomonee, Ho Chunk, Sioux and other folks who were around here
aboriginally. Even though they were probably not, or not
closely, related to those who mined and used the copper in past
millenia, they are tarred by the same brush by those who support
the necessity of Old World in-comers to provide sophisticated
behavior such as copper mining and tool and ornament making.
Personally, I think anyone who studies the archaeology of the
upper midwest and Great Lakes area should be honor bound to
demand extraordinarily competent scholarship from anyone who
would suggest non-Native sources for cultural advances. This
isn't PC; this is based on a clear reading of how Native
Americans have been marginalized by those with agendas to
promote Old World causes for New World sophistication.
NO genuine realistic person who can be called "an authority" would
stoop to mere mudslinging and demeaning of other people's work. They
would uphold their own work and research. This person does NOT do so.
Examples of language:
Other people's work = "Popular literature"
which amounts to = "fantasy and mythology"
...and THAT is merely on the very first line of the so called
"abstract"!! But there is more UNscientific tactics of a politician:
"mis-statement and myth"; "popular books"; "fallacious";
Oh and if a politician wants some words for a campaign here they are:
"Their discovery, description and explanation make an exciting story,
one of which the citizens of this region can be rightfully proud and
of which they should all be aware."
Oh and this is the signal as to who are the writers of the above, they
are the "non-specialist authors", but those who are right are the
"Professional archaeologists" and they are the people who tell "facts
about Michigan prehistory", or particular revisionism preferred by the
All of that mudslinging crud is in the "abstract" - something that is
supposed to be a scientific summary or statement of the contents of a
book, article, or a formal speech. That alone is sufficient
"substance" to judge the remainder as bogus. But if one goes further
it will be proven to be true. After all what the abstract does do is
openly tell you that they are about to engage in revisionism - not
facts! Something she goes on to call "real archaeology".
Why other researchers are not "real" is outlined in 4 "dot points" of
Point 1 is an over generalisation or hyperbole. Therefor bogus.
Point 2 is a reinforcement of the above, and otherwise hollow words in
relation to the subject at hand. However they do paint a picture that
SHE is the only one that really knows - the rest are uneducated twits
apparently because they need "training" in the very basics of
Point 3 serious mudslinging - unscientific clap-trap and a waste of
Point 4 To thing she has the temerity to then claim "These authors
overlook the requirements of science" after all the unscientific swill
she had come up with - and she refers to everyone who doesn't agree
Oh and all the "others" resort to "mantra-like repetition" of "myths"
- only what will come from this point on is her reliance on EXACTLY
those "myths" for her own revisionism. Therefor she is guilty of
exactly that which she accuses others of -and the story HAS to be
totally BOGUS, by her own words!
But let us not be side-tracked by trivialities like the material being
BOGUS, let us look at what she say's under an emphasised "FACTS" and
this is what she points to: "Martians following Dr. Spock and the crew
of the starship Enterprise?" - ah yes, and such a person wants to be
taken seriously! HAH!
OK so you are a Start Trek fan and consider it valid in an
archaeological claim about facts. Then there is this "...none other
than the race that discovered the continent, the indigenous American
Indians. There are no discontinuities in biological variation" -
interesting isn't it! Not only does she do a Weller, and misrepresent
what another has said, but she is a racist on top of everything else!
She points to "biological variation" to explain "race"!! How
unscientific can you get? More importantly the reference to race is
unfortunate as "a people" is the intended meaning. Neither has anyone
said anything about "biological variation" in the words she quoted.
She points to it being "clearly a part of someone's separate reality"
- yes, HERS!
NOTE this: "turned up no evidence, anywhere, of non-native
exploitation of prehistoric copper" - first of all, I didn't know
copper of any kind being mined was anything BUT "prehistoric" even
today! Specifically she now refers to "non-native ... copper" - or
ordinary copper ore. For references she points to HERSELF and someone
"Clark" who appears to have been a cohort - but listed separately for
a greater impact! SO we have an circular claim "because I said it, it
must be true" thing again.
Then we come to another so called "fact" again. Where she says:
"prehistoric mining is really much longer than this rough estimate"
and she suggested it was claimed to be 3000 B.C. to 900 A.D. (Sodders
1990:12). Only she then goes on to say this: "NOT extend as far as
Phoenicia or the European Bronze Age, however" - the governing time
here is "Europe" any part of it. So now she has painted herself in to
a corner. Bronze age in Europe did not exist before 3000 BCE.
Immediately after that she claims "sites with dates in the range of 7
thousand years ago" - or to 5000 BCE. But how can thos be, as she
later on claims this: "indigenous peoples had been adapting to their
home region for 6000 years or more" - or to say they found copper at
that place a whole 1000 years before they arrived there.... like WOW!!
So let me state a FACT of my own here - that Susan Martin doesn't know
what she is talking about, simple as that!
So is nothing by SUCKER TUCKER! What else do you expect to find on
Doug's web pages anyway?
SIR - Philosopher unauthorised
Just as I thought. You have no real arguments with which to
counter Martin's points, so you pick away at trivialities and
In another post, I asked you something that you have neatly
[begin unaddressed post]
1. What in it is bogus?
2. Where can I read material on the subject that you think
is not bogus?
So, Seppo, do you have specific references to show that Martin
was wrong in any of her main points? Or are you satisfied with
nitpicking her rhetoric? If the last, why are you posting on
sci.archaeology? You do know what archaeology is, don't you.
Well, don't you?
IF you had thought at all you wouldn't have posted what you did!
WHAT points? Mudslinging isn't "points" - I already made that clear up
As I said elsewhere already and this proves it to be correct - there
is NO point in showing you anything at all - you are blind, and
electing to remain blind as you are on a religious bent here, when
even claims the discovery and working of "copper" can occur a whole
millennia before the people even arrived there!
SIR - Philosopher unauthorised
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