Sunday, March 29, 2009

Copper Collection Leaves Many With Questions

(click to enlarge)

Richard "Stoney" Burke displayed the above copper collection at the Che-Hanna Rock and Mineral show this weekend, and it got ALOT of attention.

It raised alot of questions as well.

I need not explain what he claims it to be, because he also had that information there with his display:
(click to enlarge)

I am no scientist and so it is not up to me to say what is "authentic" or not - but from the 500 pieces being found on very small platform to where they all are today.... these are only a few of the questions that arise when someone looks at this pristine copper grouping.

First and foremost of questions is why it is a secret where the site is that they actually came from.

Within hours, members of SRAC brought up a recent article in Fogelman's "Indian Artifact Magazine," about a copper collection that seems to be the same as the one above as well. Fogelman reports that a "friend/aquaintance in New York has been buying purported Native Copper implements from a source/friend in Michigan." He goes on to say that even he became "skeptical of both the story and the artifacts." Some of the reasons that he became skeptical were that EVERY type of copper artifact known of as well as some NEW forms were represented on that platform, and that one in fact could be identified by another of Fogelman's friends/associates as a spear that they personally had made. It was later sold at a yard sale.

I have to be honest. Gary Fogelman and I do not have much in common...I have been to affairs where he has stayed clear of me - I would suppose because he knows I do not agree with buying and selling artifacts. But I will say that Gary was right to put a piece in his magazine about this collection, and I thank him for at least trying to alert his readers about this questionable collection that is out there being presented as scientific material...

I have to agree that the display that I saw seemed PERFECT, and as one of the collector's friends came by and asked me what I thought of the display, I simply told him that it was very nice ART. He immediately got upset....and asked me why I said such a thing...I simply told him that if they were unwilling to allow anyone to study the site or the artifacts - it has no scientific significance...without it it is merely art. While he wanted to continue the debate, I declined.

As I left the event today I decided that the biggest question that this whole ordeal raised for me was what exactly does it take to get people to realize that archaeology is not a commercial business - but a SCIENCE -


  1. Your point is one worth making. I hope that you are finding receptive ears up there.

  2. How long would it take for the copper to become verdigris? This corrosion surface can be formed by dropping copper into distilled vinegar.

    However, from a corrosion engineering standpoint, the quartz sand would have provided a coating barrier for the copper. The clay lining of the pit would serve to transfer electron flow more rapidly. This combination would likely prevent corrosion.

  3. Deb -

    I had not seen this posting before - so sorry to be so late in commenting. Another point which immediately jumped to my mind on reading the site description - If this is real it is clearly a mortuary offering at a burial complex. If you go back through the material on Hopewell/Adena complexes (that's what I am familiar with) it is not unusual to see such groupings of material - on prepared platforms (or in prepared basins) ajdacent to fire pits. The Human remains are usually very close by as well - either whole, bundled or cremated. This raises another whole question about the nature of how they were found, where they were found, and the potential for prosecution if someone was digging on state or federal land. Depending on the state - even disturbing burials on private land is illegal.