Some of our columns contain more metallurgy than others. Some contain well-known history. This month’s nonferrous-focus drew us to the history and legend of the “copper mounds” of North America. Michigan is particularly replete with these mounds. A 1925 archaeological book indicated, “There are fully 600 mounds still to be seen in the state and at least 500 more must have been destroyed in the last 150 years.”
Who made these mounds, and why were they made? Unfortunately, some of this information is prehistoric, but history, legend and archaeology reveal some of the mystery. Some archaeologists believe that the mound builders were intelligent, had entered the Bronze Age and traded with the Aztecs and Mayans. Dr. Henriette Mertz, in her 1985 book The Mystic Symbol, believes that ancient Phoenician mariners traveled across the ocean to Upper Michigan to mine the pure and abundant lodes to satisfy the demands of ancient Egyptians and Greeks. Records indicate that it took three years for the ocean vessels to return with their copper.