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North America's ancient copper use, predicted to originate as early as 9000 cal BP, represents the earliest use of native copper for utilitarian tool production in the world. Although recent work has focused on establishing the first use of copper in the western Great Lakes region, little attention has been paid to determining the age ranges of subsequent copper using groups or to the identification of broader trends in copper use during the Archaic Period (10,000-3000 RCYBP). Here we address this issue by applying Bayesian modeling to a comprehensive suite of 76 radiocarbon dates directly associated with copper use. Our results identified two distinct peaks in copper usage, ca. 5500 cal BP and ca. 3300 cal BP. Age ranges for the three Archaic Period traditions and practices associated with copper use of the western Great Lakes are revised using modern calibration curves. Bayesian revisions of age ranges from sites where copper tools and/or production debris have been found provide insight into the historical relationships between, and cultural interactions among, these early copper using groups. This study provides an updated, refined chronology based on the most recent calibration curve (IntCal20) for the varied cultural contexts of copper use across the western Great Lakes.


Michelle R Bebber, Briggs Buchanan, Jacob Holland-Lulewicz. Refining the chronology of North America's copper using traditions: A macroscalar approach via Bayesian modeling. PloS one. 2022;17(4):e0266908

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PMID: 35472064

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