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Great Lakes Copper and Shared Mortuary Practices on the Atlantic Coast: Implications for Long-Distance Exchange during the Late Archaic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2019

Matthew C. Sanger*
Anthropology Department, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA
Brian D. Padgett
Department of Anthropology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
Clark Spencer Larsen
Department of Anthropology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
Mark Hill
Anthropology Department, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306, USA
Gregory D. Lattanzi
Department of Archaeology, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ 08625, USA
Carol E. Colaninno
Center for STEM Research, Education, and Outreach, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL 62026, USA
Brendan J. Culleton
Department of Anthropology and Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
Douglas J. Kennett
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
Matthew F. Napolitano
Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA
Sébastien Lacombe
Anthropology Department, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA
Robert J. Speakman
Center for Applied Isotope Studies, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
David Hurst Thomas
Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024, USA
(, corresponding author)


Analysis of human remains and a copper band found in the center of a Late Archaic (ca. 5000–3000 cal BP) shell ring demonstrate an exchange network between the Great Lakes and the coastal southeast United States. Similarities in mortuary practices suggest that the movement of objects between these two regions was more direct and unmediated than archaeologists previously assumed based on “down-the-line” models of exchange. These findings challenge prevalent notions that view preagricultural Native American communities as relatively isolated from one another and suggest instead that wide social networks spanned much of North America thousands of years before the advent of domestication.

El análisis de restos humanos y una banda de cobre que se encontraron en el centro de un anillo de concha del Arcaico Tardío (ca. 5000–3000 cal BP) demuestra una red de intercambio entre los Grandes Lagos y la costa sureste de los Estados Unidos. Las similitudes en las prácticas mortuorias sugieren que el movimiento de objetos entre estas dos regiones fue más directo y sin mediación que las suposiciones pasadas basadas en modelos de intercambio “en línea”. Estos hallazgos desafían las nociones prevalecientes que consideran que las comunidades Nativas Americanas pre-agrícolas vivían relativamente aisladas unas de otras y, en cambio, sugieren que las redes sociales abarcan una gran parte de América del Norte miles de años antes del advenimiento de la domesticación.

Copyright © 2019 by the Society for American Archaeology 

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