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The exceptional abandonment of metal tools by North American hunter-gatherers, 3000 B.P.

Bebber, Michelle, Key, Alastair J. M., Fisch, Michael, Meindle, Richard, Eren, Metin I. (2019) The exceptional abandonment of metal tools by North American hunter-gatherers, 3000 B.P. Scientific Reports, 9 (5756). ISSN 2045-2322. (doi:10.1038/s41598-019-42185-y) (KAR id:73413)

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Abstract

Most prehistoric societies that experimented with copper as a tool raw material eventually abandoned stone as their primary medium for tool making. However, after thousands of years of experimentation with this metal, North American hunter-gatherers abandoned it and returned to the exclusive use of stone. Why? We experimentally confirmed that replica copper tools are inferior to stone ones when each is sourced in the same manner as their archaeological counterparts and subjected to identical tasks. Why, then, did copper consistently lead to more advanced metallurgy in most other areas of the world? We suggest that it was the unusual level of purity in the North American copper sourced by North American groups, and that naturally occurring alloys yielded sufficiently superior tools to encourage entry into the copper-bronze-iron continuum of tool manufacture in other parts of the world.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/s41598-019-42185-y
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Alastair Key
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2019 14:13 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2022 22:09 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/73413 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Key, Alastair J. M.: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5576-1200
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