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Aboriginal Copper

A Compilation of articles from the Wisconsin Archeologist

  • Ancient Copper Workings on Isle Royale (1911)

  • Native Copper Implements of Wisconsin (1904)


 Gustav's Library Vintage Reprint

Copper from the Upper Midwest has always been an interesting subject and these two articles published in the Wisconsin Archeologist describe both the artifacts and the mines from whence they came.  This compilation includes two related volumes  of the Wisconsin Archeologist bound into one book.  The Ancient Copper Workings on Isle Royale (Vol. 10, No. 2, 1911) and Native Copper Implements of Wisconsin (Vol. 3, No. 2, 1904)

Concerning the remarkable copper workings on Isle Royale:

"In the year 1872 some of the most remarkable of the ancient works yet encountered were brought to light by a party of mining explorers on Isle Royale. The amount and character of the work here revealed was something so extraordinary as to almost exceed belief.
The works * * * are generally pits of from a few feet to thirty feet n diameter; some being quite shallow, while many reach a depth of from twenty to sixty feet. They are scattered throughout the island wherever the amygdaloid copper bearing rock is found, and are invariably on the richest veins; great intelligence being displayed in locating and tracing the veins and in following them up when interrupted. This has elicited the astonishment of all who have witnessed itóno mistakes apparently having been made in this respect. The excavations are connected underground, drains being cut in the rock to carry off the water. Stopes one hundred feet in length are found. A drain sixty feet long presented some interesting features: having been cut through the surface drift into the rock, it had evidently been covered for its entire length by timbers felled and laid across. When opened the timbers had mostly decayed, and the center portions had sunk into the cavity, filling it for nearly its entire length with rotted wood. The amount of mining on three sections of land, at a point on the north side of the island, is estimated to exceed that of one of our oldest mines on the south shore of Lake Superior, a mine that has been constantly worked with a large force for over twenty years. * * *
At another point the excavations extend, in nearly a continuous line, for more than two miles, the pits being often so close together as to barely permit their convenient working. Even the rocky islets off the coast have not escaped observation, and where bearing veins of copper are generally worked. But it is probable that, including all the discoveries not one tenth of the excavations have been disclosed."

Concerning usage of copper by the American Aborigines:

"As a result of scientific research and study much of the mystery which has heretofore surrounded these people has now been dispelled. The conclusion now almost universally accepted among archeologists is that there is no reason for attributing the working of the copper deposits or fabrication of the implements to any other people than the Indians. The early explorers found both the northern and southern tribes in this country using implements and ornaments of native copper, often in common with those of stone. From South America to as far north as Canada almost every traveller refers to this metal being in the possession of or employed by the natives."

This 6" x 9-1/2", soft cover, facsimile reprint contains: 112 pages and includes many illustrations and full-size plates.  $12.95


Copper Implements Hammerstones in roots of tree at copper workings

Copper Implements

Sample  Plates - click on image to enlarge