Using regional chemical comparisons of European copper to examine its trade to and among Indigenous groups in late 16th and early 17th century Canada: A case study from Nova Scotia and Ontario

Konstantina-Eleni Michelaki, Ronald G V Hancock, Gary Warrick, Dean Knight, Ruth H. Whitehead, Ronald M. Farquhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Basque kettles and distinctive fragments from them have been found in archeological sites dating from the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries C.E. all the way from the Canadian Maritimes to the lower Great Lakes. Both kettles and their fragments, as well as tools and ornaments made from them, were extensively traded among the Aboriginal communities, following trade routes established long before the arrival of Europeans. Little is known, however, about how these European copper objects were actually exchanged and distributed among the different Aboriginal communities. In this paper we argue that the establishment of metal chemical groups using instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) data can allow us to define groups of artifacts that had been produced using similar raw materials and manufacturing techniques and, thus, provide a refined way to trace similar objects through space and time. The spatial and temporal patterning of group chemistries could then illuminate the nature of the exchange and trade of European copper items, by allowing archeologists to examine which communities were linked through which metal chemistries. In the present study we determine whether or not the same metal chemistries are shared among 59 Basque copper kettle samples found in three burial sites in Nova Scotia and 204 European copper artifacts found at the contemporaneous Ball site, a late 16th century Wendat village. We then explore the implications of the strong chemical connections among these materials for trade among Europeans and the various coastal Aboriginal communities, as well as that between the Wendat of the Ball site and their allies to the east.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-292
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • 16th-17th century Canada
  • Basque kettles
  • European copper
  • INAA
  • Mi'kmaq
  • Nova Scotia
  • Southern Ontario
  • Wendat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • History

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