Old Copper Complex – Great Lake Archaic People – 4000 BC – 1000 BC

The Old Copper Complex started in 4000 BC and remained in existence till 1000 BC. The main areas covered by this complex were the Great Lake region of US.  This culture is mainly known because at this point of time Native Americans started using copper tools and weapons. Regions nearby Lake Superior are very rich in pure copper and it is estimated that these people used to extract all the metal from the gravel strata of this region. Later these people developed the technique to modify raw copper into different tools and weapons like spear point, woodworking tools, harpoons, fishhooks, and pieces of jewelry. Archeological surveys in the Great Lake region have also revealed many copper artifacts created by the natives. Various copper trade routes are also discovered in this region. The natives used to trade copper to get many foreign resources in return.

Old Copper Complex – Great Lake Archaic People Map

Development of Great Lake copper culture

Almost 11500 years ago the ice age began to melt. The earth started warming up and glaciers were concentrating towards the poles. At this point of this certain Native Americans started establishing themselves in the great lake region. These people were mainly hunters and gatherers who eventually started exploiting various metallic resources in this region and developed technique of metal manufacturing technology.

Mining of Copper

It is believed that hunters and gatherers in Wisconsin region of US started developing their own version of Archaic copper mines about 6000 years ago. These copper mines were built few 100 miles away from the southern shores of Lake Superior on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Other mines are found in the regions like Isle Royale, Keweenaw and Ontonagon. The ore extracted by these people was exceptionally rich in copper, over 90%. The amount of copper extracted by the late archaic people is still controversial many archeologists have given value as per their estimate from 1 million pound to 1 billion pound!

Ancient Archaic Copper Mines

Technique of Extraction

Many archeological surveys in this region have revealed large number of hammerstone proving the fact that the mining was done on a large scale and large numbers of people were involved in the mining.

Copper Ore

This is also evident that mining was done manually. These people developed thermal mining technique. They used to heat up rock surface of the mine. Then these people use to apply water on the surface of rocks. This lead to development of cracks and shattering of rock thus enabling easier removal of copper from the rock.

If you’ve found the information helpful kindly promote this post on FACEBOOK. Cheers!


  1. i think you need more on their for the kids who REALLY need it for research and stuff like that.

  2. Mined by Giants with mining techniques that would astonish people today.Later the native tribes after the Giants started to become scarce.There are huge sections of the Americas & this plane that are ancient quarry sites.The Grand Canyon for example.Free your mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *