Archive for Bronze Age

East Africans & Ancient Navigation

EAST AFRICANS & ANCIENT NAVIGATION

 

by Harry Bourne

bsooty1@aol.com

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Why It Could Not Be

In a series of papers, this writer has proposed that our ancestors were very much more in touch by sea than is usually accepted by most maritime historians. Doubts about this lead us into something seen in many other of those other papers, namely opening with the negatives and this is echoed in this article with “Why it Could Not Be” are expressed. To also be borne in mind is that dates are to be expressed here as Before Common Era (= BCE/BC) and later ones as Common Era (= CE/AD), as are the international comparisons.

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Homer, facts or fiction?

Homer, facts or fiction?

By N.R. De Graaf, The Netherlands

About the naval base of the Faeakedegraffs June 2015

 

 

 

 

In 1879 mr Cailleux, a Frenchman, advanced the idea that the histories told by Homer had been enacted in the Atlantic zone of Europe. This was some decade after Schliemann told the world that he had found Troy at the west coast of Turkey, and substantiated his find with the gold treasures he had dug up. The question is not yet solved, though most archaeologists now believe that Schliemann’s claim is true. It fits the traditional setting since the Roman Empire.

One of the problems is that the scenery quite often does not fit the Aegean Sea or coast, or even the Mediterranean Sea. This was already marked in Antiquity, and Homer sometimes was put away as a fanciful poet, even more so in our days. Instead of bending Homer’s poems to make them fit the traditional interpretation, it might however be interesting to see if Cailleux might point in the right direction.

One way to do this is not only to analyze the verses philologically but also to inspect the topographical indications we find in the texts. These do often not change so strongly as to become unrecognizable, e.g. in the case of springs, characteristics of capes, mountains, islands, landing beaches and harbours, caves and strong, durable, human-built structures. Distances walked and travelled by ship can be characteristic in combination with other topographical and geographical data.

Many people have already sought for Troy and Ithaka, and mostly they found considerable gaps between the descriptions of Homer and the reality found in the field. The indications given by Cailleux however become more interesting the more one goes into detail by visiting the places suggested by Cailleux. I can testify for that.

The most convincing arguments are the characteristics of the sea, often called the Ocean (Ωκεανος) by Homer. It is grey, or greenish like wine, it has (strong) tidal action, it is very, very large, it has strong currents and the routes of the ships when blown by certain winds and driven by the currents are more plausible for the Atlantic, in direction and length. Indeed more so than it is for the Mediterranean. I would call this hypothesis of Cailleux the Atlantic stage of Homer.

To check this Antlantic stage idea, I have visited various places along the European Atlantic coast. The supposed place of Ithaca, near Cadiz, as hypothesized also by Wilkins and Gideon in their books, was not my first choice, being complicated to examine. It will be done next time. Essential in this research is that one has to make a real visit, or various visits, with some expertise in interpretation of satellite images and topographical descriptions, wide interest in archaeology of the Bronze Age and some knowledge of the fallacies of translating the Greek original text of Homer.

Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians, indicated to be Lanzarote (of the Canaries) by Gideon and Wilkins, was a good option. Descriptions of Homer are broad and specific, it seems a fairyland at first look, which if becoming a true location would be quite convincing proof that Homer did not fancy in his poems. This in accordance with his descriptions and observations of human behaviour, which still makes his work marvellous.

Finds on Lanzarote

What I found on Lanzarote was astonishing. Most, or nearly all, details of Homer’s story are found on Lanzarote, starting with the description of far view of the island, when seen by Odysseus on his raft, as a dried raw hide (rhinos) which word traditionally is translated as a shield. But the hide is a better translation for the profile of a high cliff with two truncated volcanic cones on it. There is no real river on Lanzarote, but a salty river is indeed present, El Rio, the strait at the northwest coast of Lanzarote that has a strong current during heavy weather. The isolated bush where Odysseus hides for the nightly cold still has a realistic equivalent, if not it is the same location even after three thousand years, as it depends on a spring. The washbasins like those in which Nausikaa did the laundry with her maidens, still are seen, though dry nowadays. They are newly built or repaired with mortar now. The description of the beach where Odysseus eloquently pleads for help, after having disturbed the ball game of the maidens, the mule cart road over the plain to the capital with its double harbour and its springs uphill from the old city, the descriptions of the harbour and even the orders of Alkinoos the king, to draw the ship for Odysseus’ return out of the harbour in time to avoid low tide problems in the entrance, it all fits remarkably. Also the threats of Poseidon to petrify the returning ship into what is now the lonely Roque d’Este, and to cover the city with a mountain, it all is fitting in the scenery on Lanzarote.

A bold hypothesis was made that the riches of the Phaeacians are due to trade in expensive metals, copper and silver and gold, originating from mines e.g in the actual USA, Michigan. This trade route is quite feasible to do with rowing ships, as proven by daredevils doing the transatlantic crossing from the same Canary islands to the Caribbean. That Homer describes people with transatlantic trade some three thousands of years before present is not a new idea, but that their naval base might be found now is really something to be further checked.

I would invite people interested in my research to mail me to ask for a copy of my report and many photographs about Lanzarote. email: syforbos@xs4all.nl 

In due time the mentioned report and also next ones, will be available on my website <www.Homeros-explorations.nl>

Atlantic currents. From: De Grote Bosatlas 49th edition, Noordhoff Uitgevers, Groningen. Low-resolution

atlantic currentsClick on thumbnail

Were Prehistoric Copper Oxhide Ingots manufactured on the Mississippi coast near the mouth of the Mississippi River?

By,

Jay S.Wakefield, jswakefield@comcast.net

 

Copper: According to American Indian oral tradition, Michigan copper was mined in antiquity by “red haired white-skinned ‘marine men’ who came from across the sea”. Tens of thousands of pits, up to 30’ deep, were mined using fire-setting and stone hammers, with an estimated half a billion tons of pure crystalized copper removed from the glacier-exposed lava beds. From wood timbers anaerobically preserved under water in the ancient mine pits, this mining has been radiocarbon dated to between 2400 BC and 1200 BC, a period of more than a thousand years. During this same period, Europe experienced the Bronze Age, though historians and archaeologists now say they have no idea where the copper came from. One of the more interesting finds in digging out one of these old mine holes (Drier & Du Temple, Prehistoric Copper Mining in the Lake Superior Region) was a Walrus skin bag, indicating the miners had traveled over seas in the north. If people came from overseas to mine copper in Michigan during the Bronze Age, there can be little doubt they transported it back overseas for use in the manufacture of bronze.

 

Ancient routes for the transport of Michigan’s copper have been traced downstream from the mines on Isle Royale and the Keweenaw Peninsula, past storage pits with corroded copper in them, and beyond Beaver Island, with its ancient raised garden beds and huge 39-stone circle. In the Great Lakes, water levels fluctuated widely, as ice dams retreated, and the land rebounded from the glacial weight. Around 2300 BC there was a high water stage, called the “Nipissing Stage”. Dr. Jim Schertz, Professor Emeritus with the Ancient Earthworks Society (Old Water Levels and Waterways during the Ancient Copper Mining Era) says that when the water rose 40-50 feet above present levels, an outlet opened into the Illinois River, through the present Chicago Ship Canal. On the south bank, where the river started, stood a 3,000 pound stone block, overlooking Lake Michigan. Known as the Waubansee Stone, carved with the face of a man with a beard and holes connecting the bowl at the top to the mouth of the face. Another is said to have been on the north bank. At these stones, sacrifices may have been made prior to the perilous voyages, loaded with copper, down the rivers to Poverty Point, Louisiana.

 

Poverty Point: Six huge earthmounds and six enormous concentric earth rings characterize the enigmatic Archaic period town of Poverty Point, formerly accessible only by boat from the Mississippi. The site is carbon dated to 2400 BC, with the big mounds made around 1500 BC. It is one of the largest, and oldest centers of civilization on Earth. Jean Hunt, then President of the Louisiana Mounds Society, wrote in 1993 in Ancient American Magazine that “the Poverty Point archaeologist or curator talked about traces of large “spots” of copper on the surface, which he thought might have represented places where raw copper from the Michigan mines was placed while awaiting trans-shipment”. Dexter and Martin (America’s Ancient Stone Relics) report that Mitchell Hillman, Assistant Curator for the Louisiana Office of State Parks, has found spots of copper on the surface both north and south of Poverty Point, for a distance of five to fifteen miles, on both sides of the river. Researcher Daniel Wood, in another Ancient American article, “Bronze Age Michigan”, describes a 20’x50’ Torch Lake (Keweenaw) pit found to contain 20 tons of carbonate of copper, dated c.1800 BC. Other pits were discovered as far east as Sault Ste Marie, and others in southern Wisconsin. Early in 2006, a magnetic gradiometry study done at Poverty Point by Mike Hargrave and Burley Clay shows large dark spots that were described as metal “hits” (see Rocks & Rows).

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Poverty Point, The Manufacturing of Copper Oxhides for the Atlantic Copper Trade

Bronze Age Town & Gulf Ports on the Copper Trail

Open-fire manufacturing of Copper Oxhides

(NE Louisiana, & Mississippi c.2000-700 BC)

 

J.S. Wakefield, jayswakefield@yahoo.com

 

Photos coming soon, apologies from AA staff.

 

Summary

The “Late Archaic” Poverty Point earthworks in Louisiana are the earliest and largest monuments in prehistoric North America. The site that remains covers a square mile, features six concentric segmented semi-circular walls, surrounded by six large mounds. The site is shown to be a prehistoric town, and a manufacturing and trading center which was a part of the worldwide megalithic culture. The site design reveals encoded latitudes of transatlantic sailing routes, and evidence of multicultural involvement in the manufacturing of copper oxhide ingots.

 

Introduction & Dating

The Poverty Point complex is a Louisiana State Commemorative Area, open to the public, and has been a National Historical Landmark since 1962. Collectors have been picking up artifacts since the 1870’s, but it was not recognized as such a huge site until the ring pattern was recognized in a 1938 aerial photograph (Fig.2, right). The American Museum of Natural History dug at the site in 1942/3 and 1955, and showed “how large and unusual [the site] was” (Ref.1). Today, there is a road built through the rings, and 15,000 visitors a year pass through the site’s museum. Some of the illustrations used in this article are from the book (The Ancient Mounds of Poverty Point, Place of the Rings) and website of John L. Gibson, previously employed as the site archaeologist, who devoted his career to the study of Poverty Point.

 

The site is located in the northeastern corner of Louisiana, northwest of Vicksburg, Mississippi at 33°N (Fig.1). Poverty Point is built on Maçon Ridge, a plateau 90 miles long, and five miles wide, in the swampy floodplains of the Mississippi River. Gibson reports 38 radiocarbon dates, all between 2278 BC (2470-2040) and 650 BC, with most between 1500 and 1300 BC. Gibson says that while the land and waters were biologically rich, the richest asset was the location. “This was one of the few places in the entire Mississippi valley where a departing pirogue could have been paddled without portages”(Refs.1,2).

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Composition Analysis of Michigan Copper

Michigan Copper in the Mediterranean,

The Shipping of Michigan Copper across the Atlantic in the Bronze Age

 

(Isle Royale and Keweenaw Peninsula, c. 2400BC-1200 BC)

J.S. Wakefield, jayswakefield@yahoo.com

 

Photos coming soon for the article. Apologies from the AA staff.

 

Summary

Recent scientific literature has come to the conclusion that the major source of the copper that swept through the European Bronze Age after 2500 BC is unknown. However, these studies claim that the 10 tons of copper oxhide ingots recovered from the late Bronze Age (1300 BC) Uluburun shipwreck off the coast of Turkey was “extraordinarily pure” (more than 99.5% pure), and that it was not the product of smelting from ore. The oxhides are all brittle “blister copper”, with voids, slag bits, and oxides, created when the oxhides were made in multiple pourings outdoors over wood fires. Only Michigan Copper is of this purity, and it is known to have been mined in enormous quantities during the Bronze Age.

 

The Geology of Copper

Copper is said to be the most common metal on the face of the Earth with the exception of iron. However, most of it is in the form of low-grade ores that require a sequence of concentration mechanisms to upgrade it to exploitable ore through a series of proto-ores. Copper ores of the “oxidized type”, including the oxide cuprite, and carbonates (malachite) are generally green or blue, and reducible to copper metal by simple heating with charcoal. Ores of the “reduced type” are sulfides or sulfosalts (chalcocite, chalcopyrite, tetrahedrite), and are not readily identified in outcrops as ores; they require roasting to convert them to oxides, then reduction of the oxides to produce metal. There are a number of places in the world where copper can be found in small deposits in the pure state, but it is usually embedded in a rock matrix, from which it must be freed by intensive labor, or, today, crushed in huge volumes, and treated to obtain the metal.

 

The Unique Geology of Michigan Copper

Early in Earth’s history, there were huge volcanic outflows over the Great Lakes area. As new sediments overlaid these flows, copper solutions were crystallizing in the Precambrian flood basalts of the lava layers. The copper had been crystallized in nodules and irregular masses along fracture zones a few inches, to many feet wide. After a billion years, about a quarter of the age of the Earth, four major glaciations ground upon the edges of the old layered basalt lava beds, and exposed some of the embedded copper (Fig.2, top drawing). Isle Royale and the Keweenaw Peninsula remained high ridges of volcanic basalt. The scraping and digging by the glaciers, followed by surface exposure of the hardest material, the metal, was followed by sluicing of the land by glacial meltwaters. This left many mineral nodules of all sizes on the surface, in the huge pine forests. This was called “float copper”, as it appeared that it had “floated” to the surface. Nodules of copper were discovered shining in the surf along the shores of Isle Royale. The prolonged crystallization, followed by glacial exposure, was a unique sequence of events. When exploited, it took man from the stone age to an industrial world. The half billion pounds mined in prehistory were followed by six and a half billion pounds mined in the “industrial age” in America, starting in the late 1800s

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