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Miskwabik, Metal of Ritual

Miskwabik, Metal of Ritual: Metallurgy in Precontact Eastern North America

Amelia M. Trevelyan
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Miskwabik, Metal of Ritual
    Book Description:

    Miskwabik, Metal of Ritualexamines the thousands of beautiful and intricate ritual works of art -- from ceremonial weaponry to delicate copper pendants and ear ornaments -- created in eastern North America before the arrival of Europeans. The first comprehensive examination of this 3,000-year-old metallurgical tradition, the book provides unique insight into the motivation of the artisans and the significance of these objects, and highlights the brilliance and sophistication of the early civilizations of the Americas.Comparing the ritual architecture and metallurgy of the original Americans with the ethnological record, Amelia M. Trevelyan begins to unravel the mystery of the significance of the objects as well as their special functions within the societies that created them. The book includes dozens of striking color and black and white photographs.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4755-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. List of Figures
    (pp. x-xv)
  6. List of Plates
    (pp. xvi-xvii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xviii-xx)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Art objects designed for use in ritual are sometimes all that remain to bear witness to the complexity of the societies that peopled the Americas before Europeans arrived. Despite their beauty and technical sophistication, these artworks present forms, uses, and ideas that are so foreign to today’s urbane modes and perceptions that it is all but impossible to link them to much that is familiar in today’s materialistic, media-driven world. This difficulty is especially true of artworks from pre-Columbian North America.

    Few of the conventional markers of civilization survive from this period. Without remnants of a written language to provide...

  9. 1 A Long, Consistent History
    (pp. 9-73)

    Copper was central to five major ritual manifestations in eastern North America, dubbed by scholars: the Old Copper Culture; the Adena, Hopewell, and Copena peoples; and the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. The Old Copper Culture was a Middle to Late Archaic development that lasted from about 3000–1000 B.C. and was focused primarily in the upper Great Lakes region. Adena was a Late Archaic to Early Woodland manifestation that thrived circa 1500 B.C. to 200 B.C. While major Adena centers were farther south, in what is now Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, some overlapped with the development of Hopewell traditions. The...

  10. 2 Meaning and Significance in Design
    (pp. 74-115)

    Interpretation of the designs and symbols applied to ritual copper seems the most obvious route to understanding the role of this material, but it is hardly the only one. The medium used for the creation of ritual artwork is often as central to an understanding of function and significance as are form and motif. In ceremonial traditions, design and material are frequently interdependent in many other ways as well. Certain materials tend to be used in the creation of particular categories of objects. Likewise, specific shapes and designs tend to be reserved for objects made of particular mediums. This was...

  11. 3 Meaning and Significance in Material
    (pp. 116-148)

    Both archaeological and historical evidence indicate that the ceremonial and ritual importance of copper was based, in large part, on ideas and traditions associated with the metal itself. The nature of this evidence ranges from certain characteristics of the mineral and the ways it was utilized prehistorically, to observations on how it was used by Native North Americans just after contact with Europeans. Often the information amounts to little more than intriguing bits of data that suggest that copper was held in high esteem, even in its raw state. Taken as a whole, these inferences and intimations offer enough clues...

  12. Plates
    (pp. None)
  13. 4 Copper: Its Ceremonial Role
    (pp. 149-202)

    Clearly copper played a central role in the ceremonial life of many prehistoric Native Americans. Their material remains suggest that culture and lifestyle in prehistoric times were not greatly different from the lifeways observed by early European visitors in North America (although the Europeans rarely understood much of it). This evidence suggests that prehistoric ceremonies and rituals probably developed and changed in much the same way that Early Historic religious practices did. Ecological factors and longstanding patterns of behavior were crucial elements in these processes, both before and after contact, and certainly influenced the long tradition in which copper was...

  14. Appendix
    (pp. 201-257)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 258-270)
  16. Maps I-III
    (pp. 271-275)
  17. Tables I-IX
    (pp. 276-286)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 287-301)
  19. Index
    (pp. 302-321)