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Copper Artifact Master Database (CAMD)

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Illinois: The Introduction

 

The above map was created for an Illinois presentation back in 2013. I inserted the codes in the above map, with three different colored circles you can't read in black and white or grayscale. But the gray was Archaic, the brown was Hopewell and the black was Mississippian. You'll also see letter codes that are self-explanatory. The numbers in each county are what I found in a state drive at that time; you'll see those now updated at end of each subsection.

 

For a state with 102 counties, it might seem overwhelming to divide it just into three sections. However, 50 counties have no copper noted. That's nearly half. I list each of them in their appropriate sections. If anyone knows of any copper in these counties, please do contact me. I'd love to update this.

 

If you've already glanced through the tables, and attempted to compare Illinois to Northern Wisconsin and Michigan, you will find some similarities but will also likely be startled by some of the differences, as the Hopewell presence here is stronger. Havana Hopewell is thought to be the earliest form of Hopewell, as noted by Theler and Boszhardt, emerging from the Red Ocher Culture (ROC) right here in Illinois (2003:110).

 

On the left is a map lifted from Ehrhardt's work (2009:11), showing the extent and recognition of the Hopewell, although there's reason to believe they extend farther west as well.  Note that the beginnings of the Hopewell Interactive Sphere could have been at Poverty Point (star) and migrated northward. The Hester site is noted as a site of southern copper sources (Ehrhardt 2009:11-12).

 

I've asked around the various Illinois archaeology circles to find out who, if anyone, knows about the Drier & DuTemple claim (1965:30) that there was a copper knife found in the bones of a mastodon in Illinois. Further in that same reference (79-80) there is an article by Jacob Houghton (n.d.) where he claims that Mr. J. W. Foster talked about this discovery of a copper knife and the bone of a mastodon, saying it was in the same geological formation but separated from each other by a few miles, adding: "One of two suppositions is true -- either that here was an intermingling of the relics of two distinct ages, or that if the synchromism is established, man on this Continent, as a contemporary with the mastodon, was far in advance in the mechanical arts of man, as the contemporary of the fossil elephant on the European continent."

 

A demonstration of the Americas as having an older copper industry than in Europe was in the Northern Wisconsin Copper Artifact Resource Manual (13), so I won't reproduce that here.

 

I have had no luck finding anything further on this discovery. So this knife will remain legend, unless it can be authenticated; in fact, much of their material is rather wildly speculative. But a specific reference to a specific knife should be an unlikely thing to conjure.

 

If you're familiar with glacial activity, you'll know that as the glaciers retreated, the southern-most recesses melted first, meaning that float copper in Illinois would have been uncovered first, picked up and worked on, even before that in Wisconsin. Susan Martin (1999:255n3) noted that this glacial drift would have deposited copper sporadically over an area 450,000 square miles. Sampson and Esarey (1993:461) confirmed an Early Archaic point was found in La Salle County, so look for more on that in that section.

 

We can express disappointment over the low count of copper overall in the Illinois manual. The total count for Illinois is 2,621, not even half of what we found in Michigan. But during the Paleo and Early Archaic, the populations were still pretty low and mobile. Many with copper may have ended up in Wisconsin, adding to the high copper count there. At any rate, we do think logic should prevail, and small amounts of float copper would have been found sooner in Illinois than in Wisconsin.

 

If you wonder over the cover here, there's two reasons: I need permission to use and this is the one I got; and there is a awl connection to Wisconsin that I elaborate on further here. It's very unusual to see an awl connection made.

 

You'll note significantly more Late Woodlands presence than in Michigan or Northern Wisconsin. Goodman noted that she references, not the quality of the artifacts referred to, but the quantity. That is important, also, for the CAMD. She couldn't find adequate dating in many cases (1984:6-7). For dating I try to share only what was noted in the professional literature. But there are times when I can share a potential age based on the type noted in the Updated Wittry Typology that was dated elsewhere.

 

Goodman noted that certain sites could not be assigned to certain cultures. Here I am more concerned about the trading that appears to have happened across locations, and hoping to make cultural connections that way. I've seen a lot of fluidity in these cultural groups; I attempt to address that fluidity through their trade goods, and what their associations mean.

 

Goodman (9) felt copper formed a valuable trade item starting in the Late Archaic; that could explain the explosion of ritual and ornamental copper being made in that period, too, as well as trade items like obsidian turning up; quite a bit of this in Illinois. There's a map of the obsidian fingerprint in DeBoer's work (2004:87) that I am not able to reproduce here but it's pretty substantial. He postulated that there is reason to believe all the obsidian came in one single expedition in 200 CE, but then, that wouldn't explain the obsidian at Riverside that was dated in the Late Archaic. We can suspect that dating to be wrong, of course.

 

Ericson and Baugh (1994:7) noted that the Late Archaic was the first fluorescence period for trade, and its center was Poverty Point. Obsidian, however, has been placed at locations out west, not down South. I rather suggest that there was no center of trade in the Late Archaic. It began gradually and from all directions as populations increased, and was the result of migration as well as with a specific trade route developing (See Butler 2009:625).

 

We might wonder if Illinois was a prime workshop for artifacts sent elsewhere but there's little trace of copper workshops compared to Northern Wisconsin, while there is a big one noted for obsidian and a number of them for stone. This indicates that the worksites (also called camp sites) in the other two manuals were the result of mining activity and not from use of float copper. We might perhaps see more float tooling activity in the other two Wisconsin volumes. Kelly (1991:72) also noted the lack of copper artifacts found in Illinois, although I suspect there's more in the CAMD than he'd expect to see. He suspected that copper in Illinois was reserved for the elite; even the Hopewell artifacts in Illinois were light on copper overall.

 

You're going to see references to embossed and repousse items, so I'll explain the difference here. An embossed item is one that is decorated with a design that stands out in relief. A repousse item has the design hammered into relief from the reverse side. So really, they are the same thing: When an object is called repousse, its decoration technique is by embossing.

 

One thing I do here different than in previous books is to share site markers. A lot has been written about these sites already by the professionals. I have more book references than collectors in this edition, so I want to make sure I didn't duplicate anything. Often the museums report the pieces that are also referred to in book references. Because so few copper was found in Illinois, and it has been much better professionally excavated and written about than in Wisconsin, I felt it would add value to the data here to name the site and yes, even sometimes the burial number, to help demonstrate how I avoided duplication.

 

Here's the breakdown of time periods I provide in the other manuals but with specific changes designed to explain Illinois where appropriate.

PREFACE FOR VOLUME ii: NORTHERN WISCONSIN COPPER ARTIFACT RESOURCE MANUAL, 3RD EDITION

 

 

I always felt that I would have to do at least one more edition of each of the copper artifact manuals, and maybe more, depending on how many more materials are uncovered and how their addition could change some analysis. In this case, I went to two artifact shows and that brought enough pieces into the database to warrant a more immediate 2nd edition to be produced; but also because of an error in the first edition that frankly horrified me. I also have some new data for the Michigan CARM but not enough to warrant a new edition.

 

Because the CAMD is fluid, I found it necessary for time's sake to remove the index added to the 2nd edition. I simply don't have the time to update it. I had to get this done, and the Illinois Copper Artifact Resource Manual published, in time for my presentation on copper trade at the Society of American Archaeologists in March 2023.

 

But yes, there is some new analysis here; note that in this edition, unlike in 2nd edition, I do provide updated maps of totals. Overall, the text has been corrected and improved where needed. If you still have 2nd edition, the index there will help you figure out what topics are discussed, even if the pages in 3rd edition don't match up. First edition is toss-able, or donate it to your local archaeology library or museum. There is still great value in the data there.

I will no longer be attending artifact shows. But I do welcome anyone to contact me when they have artifacts to add to the database. But I only seek out new data now while in the compilation of a first edition, as I am making some contacts with Illinois now.

 

If you don't wish to purchase 3rd edition, but have purchased one of the previous two, please just email me and ask for the new data. With your receipt I'll provide that free of charge. I don't expect to put out a 4th edition, but will keep updates and make them available to anyone who's purchased the previous editions.

 

I am a historian, and as such, gathering sources to reflect on what's been written about these materials is what I do. There are pictures scattered throughout, and I advise you, for interpretive purposes, to get a free copy of the Wittry Updated Typology, nearly 20 pages with photos, always available and kept updated at my website, or you can email me directly.

 

This is a resource for scholars, museums, and anyone interested in pre-contact cultural materials. It's for people who want to do some investigating of their own. That's that the Copper Artifact Master Database (CAMD) is all about.

 

Welcome to the first Wisconsin edition of the CAMD, the northern 1/3rd of Wisconsin. Wisconsin alone has nearly 1/4th of all the copper artifacts uncovered in the CAMD; for this reason, Wisconsin manuals will appear win three parts: northern, central and southern.

 

Ira Fogel asked (WA 1963:129-130), "Since it is known that Wisconsin yields the largest number of Archaic copper artifacts, and the numbers diminish in other states, what relationships or differences existed in terms of time, culture groups, environmental changes, distance from the source of raw material or center of manufacture, major regional associations or modes of dispersal? No single archaeological report was satisfactory for the purposes of the study. It was necessary to visit museums, correspond with many collectors, students and professionals, and rely on much unpublished data."

 

I think you'd approve of this effort, Ira. The Copper Artifact Master Database (CAMD) was created in hopes of creating an easier access to materials to answer Fogel's questions. He found it impossible to establish firm context for many, even when the locations were reported, because of disturbances of potentially excavate-able locations (Martin 1999: 185). This leads many archaeologists to wish private collectors away, even though there is no way they can excavate most of the sites private collectors find; if, indeed, what they found were in sites at all.

 

As it turns out, this northern area may well hold materials than either of the other two, in part thanks to the cooperation of private collectors. The idea of excavations to add to museum collections could be coming to an end; unless I've misunderstood, academics is no longer allowed to remove artifacts in situ, especially from burials.  There has to be a solution to open reporting, sharing, and even displaying. I hope, working together, collectors, curators and archaeologists can find that solution. Displaying what has been found and currently buried in storage, and interpreting them, should be the future of archaeology. Let's excavate and create out of stored archives.

 

"Why Wisconsin" was a question that Warren Wittry also tried to answer (WA38-4 1957:205 & 208). While he decided that he didn't have enough information to establish any trade routes, he acknowledged that because Wisconsin had so many artifacts, "the actual migration of people as well as trade or diffusion may account for a good deal of the dispersal [in Wisconsin.] The CAMD has more than Wittry imagined, and tracking a trade network is its purpose. Because of the added materials, I discovered the need to update Wittry's 1957 typology, with added information from Jack Steinbring, an archaeologist, with his approval; this is what you can download free at my website; I update it every three to six months there.

 

This northern area will have a subjective feel of its own; it remains colder with less crop activity than the other two areas in Wisconsin. Thus, we should find some similarities to Upper Michigan as we explore east to west here. This area also includes the Oconto museum and copper burial ground where I was curator for three years.

 

But this northern area was not just free space for collectors. There have been studies done up here, including by Robert Salzer and the Northern Lakes Project (1974:40), designed in 1964 at Beloit College. They studied the lakes region that extends through Vilas and Oneida counties, and into portions of Iron, Price, Lincoln, Langlade and Forest, and also a strip of land into Michigan (which I assume to be Gogebic County, as that county was overlapped by collectors as well).

One thing we should be able to ascertain with the CAMD in this northern section is that mining activity was the reason for the great amount of worksites up here. We know that copper tooling began before copper mining as the glaciers melted from south to north, what I call glacial recession. When the glaciers came through in the last glacial age, referred to as the Wisconsin Glaciation, about 31,500 years ago, huge chunks of ice picked up loose copper boulders of various sizes from the Lake Superior region directly above Wisconsin and pulled them southward, dropping them, on recession, as far south as southern Illinois. That makes Illinois the prime location for the earliest copper tooling as climate warmed faster in the south; for that reason, the Illinois manual will be the next one available.

 

Wisconsin is surrounded on three sides by waterways; the Mississippi River heads into Minnesota but is joined at the Wisconsin borderland by the St. Croix River. The Wisconsin River flows through the state from this northern area; this, too, was a copper trade network. The Wisconsin River at one time had its source in Upper Michigan when, after the glaciers melted, all water levels reached high saturation.

 

The People traveled those waterways; that's where they lived. The CAMD's main focus is finding their trade and migration networks.

 

There is a major difference between this manual and the Michigan one published previously. I have since renumbered the category of spatulates. So if you see one in Michigan numbered type III-H, you will now find them in Updated Wittry VIII as the C variant. I'll make sure another edition of Michigan notes the changes, if I provide one.

 

These manuals were created for anyone who is interested in the pre-contact past of the United States, and will give readers ideas of what life was like here before the Europeans came. I'm dedicating this manual, in part, to Dave Thoen, captain of the Apostle Island cruise ship Arc on Lake Superior (August 2021). His fascinating talk left one resource out that Lake Superior is known for -- copper. When I asked him about it later, telling him about Lake Superior as the source of the world's purest copper, he said no, that's Lake Michigan. So for Dave and all the others out there who get Lake Michigan mixed up with the body of water that started it all, this manual is for you.

 

You'll also be interested in these resource manuals because, and Susan Martin (1999:141) agrees, copper tooling began around the Great Lakes earlier than anywhere else on the continent. It's become apparent that, though those in South America began smelting and casting copper, they began to anneal copper later than in the Great Lakes area. This might lead us to believe that they learned it from the "Great Lakers," or migrated from the north themselves. This would be a good area of inquiry for anyone interested in a project. Students of archaeology and historians find a lot of ideas for projects in here.

 

I found this quote that explains why a copper-smelting industry did not occur in most parts of the U.S. "Copper, when melted, is thick and pasty, and without the addition of some other metal, will not run into the cavities and sinuosities of the mould" (P.R. Hoy 1886 (reprint): 2). It takes a pound of zinc to ten of copper to make an alloy that will flow freely. Lake Superior is that source of pure copper that Hoy noted as hard to smelt.

 

There could also be those in Wisconsin who believe that the Old World copper trade route accounts for the "missing copper" of Lake Superior. To you, like to the ranger at Copper Falls State Park (August 2021), pay close attention: There is no way to tell how much copper was there to start with, or how much got dragged by glaciers, or how much is in archives or still underground, and thus, no way to state as a fact that any copper is missing. Charles Brown (WA 3-2, 50:1903) noted that "a very considerable number … found their way into the hands of roving peddlers and junk dealers and afterwards into the founders crucible."

 

While that statement makes me sigh, it reiterates the need for this data; the CAMD shows how much is spread out across the Americas, and will retain those pieces in one database for posterity, no matter what happens to the artifacts themselves.

 

If this is your first foray into the CAMD, welcome. I hope you don't get overwhelmed.

 

Click on the cover to be taken to the Amazon purchase page. This is Vol. i - Vol. iii is due out January 2023.

Final edit is progress on VOLUME iii -- the ILLINOIS COPPER ARTIFACT RESOURCE MANUAL. I am doing final read aloud read-through and don't anticipate any further problems. Here's a bit from the opening chapter:

 

For a state with 102 counties, it might seem overwhelming to divide it just into three sections. However, 50 counties have no copper noted. That's nearly half. I list each of them in their appropriate sections. If anyone knows of any copper in these counties, please do contact me. I'd love to update this.

If you've already glanced through the tables, and attempted to compare Illinois to Northern Wisconsin and Michigan, you will find some similarities but will also likely be startled by some of the differences, as the Hopewell presence here is stronger. Havana Hopewell is thought to be the earliest form of Hopewell, as noted by Theler and Boszhardt, emerging from the Red Ocher Culture (ROC) right here in Illinois (2003:110).

 

On the left is a map lifted from Ehrhardt's work (2009:11), showing the extent and recognition of the Hopewell, although there's reason to believe they extend farther west as well.  Note that the beginnings of the Hopewell Interactive Sphere could have been at Poverty Point (star) and migrated northward. The Hester site is noted as a site of southern copper sources (Ehrhardt 2009:11-12).

 

I've asked around the various Illinois archaeology circles to find out who, if anyone, knows about the Drier & DuTemple claim (1965:30) that there was a copper knife found in the bones of a mastodon in Illinois. Further in that same reference (79-80) there is an article by Jacob Houghton (n.d.) where he claims that Mr. J. W. Foster talked about this discovery of a copper knife and the bone of a mastodon, saying it was in the same geological formation but separated from each other by a few miles, adding: "One of two suppositions is true -- either that here was an intermingling of the relics of two distinct ages, or that if the synchromism is established, man on this Continent, as a contemporary with the mastodon, was far in advance in the mechanical arts of man, as the contemporary of the fossil elephant on the European continent."

 

A demonstration of the Americas as having an older copper industry than in Europe was in the Northern Wisconsin Copper Artifact Resource Manual (13), so I won't reproduce that here.

 

I have had no luck finding anything further on this discovery. So this knife will remain legend, unless it can be authenticated; in fact, much of their material is rather wildly speculative. But a specific reference to a specific knife should be an unlikely thing to conjure.

 

If you're familiar with glacial activity, you'll know that as the glaciers retreated, the southern-most recesses melted first, meaning that float copper in Illinois would have been uncovered first, picked up and worked on, even before that in Wisconsin. Susan Martin (1999:255n3) noted that this glacial drift would have deposited copper sporadically over an area 450,000 square miles. Sampson and Esarey (1993:461) confirmed an Early Archaic point was found in La Salle County, so look for more on that in that section.

 

We can express disappointment over the low count of copper overall in the Illinois manual. The total count for Illinois is 2,620, not even half of what we found in Michigan. But during the Paleo and Early Archaic, the populations were still pretty low and mobile. Many with copper may have ended up in Wisconsin, adding to the high copper count there. At any rate, we do think logic should prevail, and small amounts of float copper would have been found sooner in Illinois than in Wisconsin.

 

If you wonder over the cover here, there's two reasons: I need permission to use and this is the one I got; and there is a awl connection to Wisconsin that I elaborate on further here. It's very unusual to see an awl connection made.