BLTC Press Titles

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Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Characters of Theophrastus


Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross




A sheet-copper ornament found by me near Montgomery, Ala., in a mound which contained many articles of European origin, analyzed by Dr H. F. Keller, yielded: copper 97.425 percent and ponderable quantities of lead, silver, bismuth, antimony, arsenic, iron, and nickel.'

Here we see the great list of impurities which appear in copper admittedly smelted from the arsenical, sulphide ores of Europe, and this was the only kind of copper Europeans possessed in those days.

Although at the present time, in Europe, copper is smelted by improved processes to yield a high percentage of the pure metal, yet ponderable quantities of many impurities still remain in it. Analyses of modern German (Mansfeld) copper give 99.2 percent to 99.5 percent of the pure metal and ponderable quantities of silver, gold, arsenic, antimony, bismuth, lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, sulphur, and oxygen.

In conclusion, then, I make the following offer to those who continue to maintain that all the sheet-copper from aboriginal mounds is of European origin, or to cite the presence of sheetcopper with objects in mounds irrespective of the degree of purity of the copper, as a proof of the European origin of these objects. I will furnish sheet-copper from aboriginal mounds in Ohio and in Florida, in which mounds no object distinctly of European make was met with, and will name an expert to analyze the copper in conjunction with an expert named by the other side, that this matter may be settled, if it is not settled already.

I doubt not that those who have carefully followed this paper will agree with me that the results of analysis will show a copper not only far purer than any that can have been smelted from the

arsenical, sulphide ores of Europe by the imperfect processes of the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, but will give, moreover, a far shorter list of impurities than copper that is smelted in Europe even at the present day.


The paper just read is apparently due largely to my suggestion that the sheet-copper found by Mr Moore in the sand mounds of Florida owed its origin to European influences. The two volumes issued by him illustrative of two winters' labor in Florida are works any one could well be proud of; the illustrations are most excellent, and from them we are able to judge fairly well what the objects themselves are, and what their ornamentation, whether that of a period of savagery or of civilization.

I have been invited by Mr Moore to give my views on the subject, and I do so with great pleasure, as it is one of more than ordinary interest to archeology and to archeologists.

The articles found by Mr Moore consist largely of objects of extremely thin sheet-copper, embossed and ornamented commonly by repousse work of dots, lines, or curves, and of certain pieces thinly overlaying objects of wood, etc. The thinness of this sheetcopper may be judged from the specimen I now present, which was sent to me by Mr Moore some years since.

It will not be questioned that the metal found is of wonderful uniformity if it belongs to a pre-Columbian period and owes its origin to a people living in a pure age of stone and of savagery. Its thinness cannot be compared with anything found elsewhere in the Americas, unless it be with certain objects found in the mounds of Ohio. The technical skill necessary to produce such material is of no mean order, and we are not accustomed to place the primitive Floridian in the human family above the average in culture of the American Indian as he was first found by Europeans. Had there been a people producing such objects at the advent of the whites, can it be questioned that such a fact would have been referred to by early writers who have recorded everything with which they came in contact worthy of notice? The absence of such reference, however, is merely negative and proves nothing, but it is testimony bearing on the subject and consequently is worthy of consideration.

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