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Book: Prehistoric Copper Mining in the Lake Superior Region (Drier & DuTemple)

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  • Susan
    Members of Ancient Waterways Society and PreColumbian Inscriptions, I mentioned a book recently, the bible of ancient copper culture studies called
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2005
      Members of Ancient Waterways Society and PreColumbian Inscriptions,

      I mentioned a book recently, the "bible" of ancient copper
      culture studies called "Prehistoric Copper Mining in the Lake
      Superior Region" (Drier & DuTemple, c. 1961). It is in such demand
      and even more 'gospel' than the work of current researchers on the
      subject that hard cover prices are ranging from $50-150.

      Much to my delight when visiting the copper country last weekend, I
      found the book has just been released in soft cover, not yet in
      wide circulation.

      The co-authors published the book privately. Professor of Metallurgy
      Roy Drier (Michigan Mining and Technology, now Mich Tech. Univ) is
      deceased. Octave DuTemple, in his 80's or 90's, continues his
      work. He and his daughter brought signed, numbered copies of the
      2005 edition to the Copper Harbor shop and museum where I stopped.
      The 200+ page book retails at $14.95, plus tax & P&H. Anyone wanting
      an early copy may write to Judy Davis at minnetonk@... or, 906-
      289-4449. (Judy's dad was a Chicago archaologist. A news article
      the wall of his daughter's museum at the Minnetonka Resort
      shows his comprehensive, diffusionist scope.)

      "Prehistoric Copper Mining in the Lake Superior Region" is a
      collection of reference articles and manuscripts from scholars here
      and abroad covering a span of 300 years. DuTemple wrote in his 1961
      introduction that, following retirement, Dr. Drier continued to
      collect and catalogue additional manuscripts and copper artifacts.
      The authors encouraged every reader of their book to submit
      information and suggestions in order to help them solve `this
      archaeological mystery'. {A note here: proceeds from the
      Conference on Ancient America some of you will be attending next
      month will go toward just such a museum).

      I emphasize that investigation into the subject of an "ancient
      Copper Culture" and "waves upon waves of people"(Rydholm)came
      through the Great Lakes to Lake Superior from many regions of the
      world is not mere parochial study of an insignificant, remote
      wilderness area in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Nor are its
      tremendous implications confined to the Americas. DuTemple
      estimated that 500 million to more than a billion pounds of copper
      was mined prehistorically in the more than 5000 mines and pits in
      the Lake Superior region, and "where this copper went is still a
      mystery" (p. 15).

      The lowest estimates in the amounts of 'missing' copper mined
      suggests mining took place for thousands of years. Charcoal samples
      at the base of specific ancient pits on Isle Royale alone indicate
      3500-4000 years ago. DuTemple felt it very possible that a copper
      trade took place several thousand years ago between America, Europe,
      Asia and South America. And no known burials, pottery, clay tables,
      writings remained of this culture. It is well here to remember that
      historic mines were built upon ancient ones. Huge mounds of
      mine "tailings", debris, and remnants of old mining building
      long-closed historic mines are still spread upward and outward for
      blocks from each mine.

      I am going to close this with two paragraphs in DuTemple's
      introduction. It will show the feasibility of travel throughout the
      Great Lakes from the East. And also relate to a discussion by
      several PreColumbian Inscriptions correspondents several months ago
      discussing water levels and the last glacial period:

      "Current estimates about the last glaciers in this area place
      them at about 11,000 to 14,000 years ago. If one assumes that these
      pits were opened after the glacier retreated this would leave a
      period of something less than 10,000 years between the retreat of
      the glacier and the elaborate ventures which these people operated.
      While there have been some shifts in the lake level of the Great
      Lakes over this period of time, it is believed that Isle Royale
      existed as an island at least 8000 or 9000 years.

      Approximately 3500 years ago the post glacial Great Lakes were in
      the Lake Nipissing Stage (Jack L. Hough, Geology of Great Lakes,
      University of Illinois Press, Urbana (1958) p. 253 and 296). Lakes
      Superior, Michigan and Huron were all at 605 feet elevation above
      sea level. At this time it was possible to travel east directly to
      the ocean via North Bay and the Ottawa River, and thence out the St.
      Lawrence to the sea, or south via Chicago, Des Plaines and the
      Mississippi River. The route over Niagara Falls was also open (pp.

      I hope to entice many of you into considering possibilites and
      the worldwide impact of diffusiom and trade that took place by those
      who navigated through intercontinental, ancient waterways, mined
      copper and other metals using Stone Age tools. Perhaps predecessors
      and an even earlier peoples may have mined deeper levels, using very
      different technologies, whose evidence lies at even greater depths.
      Few contemporary academic researchers and writers have stepped out
      on the limb that early researchers did. Interest is now growing to
      carry forward or use as a stepping stone, the work of the dozens of
      scholars whose writings, drawings, diagrams, and old photograps make
      up the bulk of the book.

      M. Susan English

      ....we'll not know where we're going `til we know where
      we have been.
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