View Full Version : Where did "The Iceman" find his copper?
03-25-2003, 03:47 PM
Please pardon my posting, but I was wondering if anyone here could point me to a good source of information on late Neolithic/Early Copper Age mining techniques-Or, to be more presence, where and how the famous "Iceman" would have found the copper for his axe?
Well, thanks for your patience,
03-25-2003, 03:55 PM
There are a few areas where native Copper can be found: in North America, there are some deposits in Michigan's UP; in Europe, the place to go was Cypress:
03-25-2003, 03:56 PM
"Cypress" is a tree. "Cyprus" is a country.
I are so stoopid.
03-25-2003, 06:14 PM
According to this (http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/open-file/of02-268/maps/map1.pdf) map (warning large PDF), there are known deposits of copper scattered in a broad band stretching from along the top edge of Turkey and up through Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. The nearest of these to the ice man would probably be those in Hungary, but there are probably smaller deposits (not mentioned on the map, as I believe it only lists those which are commercially significant) dotted about much nearer to home.
I'm sure that the metal could be analysed for trace elements and more or less pinned down to a single geographic region.
03-25-2003, 06:28 PM
Alas, that is a map of Porphyry Copper deposits (which are characteristically large, but low-grade), the extraction of copper from which would be beyond the technological scope of Neolithic Man. In fact, they weren't largely exploited until the late 20th century.
For Neolithic cultures, rare Native Copper deposits are still going to be your best bet.
03-25-2003, 06:38 PM
03-25-2003, 06:57 PM
The copper used by neolithic peoples was in malleable metallic form that could just be picked out of the rock and used - it didn't need to be smelted. It was rare, but certain American native peoples as well as Europeans had access to it and it's been found in several archeological sites.
03-25-2003, 07:18 PM
Copper From the Bronze Age to the Fall of Rome (http://www.unr.edu/sb204/geology/rome.html)
Bronze age copper mine in Wales (http://www.greatorme.freeserve.co.uk/)
Prehistory of Copper and Bronze (http://www.angelfire.com/me/ik/copper.html) - the Balkans.
Serbia (http://www.museumbor.org.yu/razvoje.htm): There is movable material from the location of Rudna Glava (about 4.500 B.C.) which is the oldest mine in Norty-Eastern Serbia. The material include: stone mining hammers obtained from river pebbles; ceramic vessels, which were used for technological processing of forged copper ore of azurite and malachite Perhaps Mangetout's map isn't completely of the wall. ;)
03-25-2003, 08:42 PM
A bit more digging turned up some interesting tidbits in a BBC article on Otzi (http://www.daziend.unibo.it/italiano/web-docenti/lzan/italiano/didattica/BBCMU2.HTM):
So his hair was covered in copper and contained arsenic levels normally associated with chronic arsenic poisoning.
If the Iceman was exposed to high levels of arsenic and copper during his lifetime, there was only one source:
smelting copper ore which produces arsenic vapour.
Someone may have come up with a better explanation since 1998, but it seems likely that Otzi's copper was produced locally by alpine tribes.
03-25-2003, 09:23 PM
"...Surface anaysis of the axe-head by theX-ray fluorescent method at the Roman-Germanic Central Museum's laboratory showed that the metal is 99.7 per cent copper, 0.22 per cent arsenic, and 0.09 per cent ilver. Judging by the trace elements arsenic and silver the metal may well have come from one of the copper deposits in the Alps. To put it simply, the blade of the Hauslabjoch axe was most probably made of local copper.....Even the preliminary analytical data indicate that the Hauslabjoch axe was not made of deep-mined copper. Instead, secondary copper minerals were used, such as green malachite or blue azurite. "
---from [B]The Man in the Ice[/B[ by Konrad Spindler (leader of the Iceman Investigation), trans. by Ewald Osers. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1994. pp. 90-91
Elsewhere, the book notes that several Alpine Bronze-asge ites have yielded burial artices made of copper, and suggests that the axe may not even have been incredibly valuable at the time.
An excellent book, and one that I'm annoyed that I couldn't find here in the States. Good books on Otzi have come out in the States since, but there's no reason this one couldn't have been published here.
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