Copper Exchange in Precontact Virginia: An LA-ICP-MS Study

Author(s): Madeleine Gunter; Christopher Stevenson

Year: 2016


Research into broad patterns of trade and exchange in prehistoric North America suggests that from AD 800-1700, objects made from copper featured prominently in Native American exchange networks. Native polities saw copper as an insignia of social and economic power and sought to control its flow and distribution. Scholars have long hypothesized that prior to European contact in the Middle Atlantic region (AD1607), Native polities in Virginia predominantly traded copper acquired from the Blue Ridge Mountains. This study tests this hypothesis, using Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) to compare the composition of copper artifacts and source material from a number of late prehistoric sites in Virginia. Results of this analysis suggest that native copper likely came from sources well outside the Middle Atlantic region.

Cite this Record

Copper Exchange in Precontact Virginia: An LA-ICP-MS Study. Madeleine Gunter, Christopher Stevenson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404717)

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Copper LA-ICP-MS Trade

Geographic Keywords
North America - Mid-Atlantic

Spatial Coverage

min long: -84.067; min lat: 36.031 ; max long: -72.026; max lat: 43.325 ;