Hopewell Use of Meteoritic Iron

Among the exotic materials collected by the Hopewell and used by their artisans to craft ornaments of iconic beauty none are more exotic than the chunks of iron, alloyed with nickel, that originated ultimately in outer space.

I describe the use of meteoritic iron by the Hopewell, as well as the ancient Egyptians, in my June column in the Columbus Dispatch.

Artifacts made from meteoritic iron have been found at most of the major Hopewell mounds, including Ater Mound, Harness Mound, the Hopewell Mound Group, Mound City Group, Seip-Pricer Mound, Seip-Conjoined Mound, Fort Ancient, and the Turner Earthworks.

The artifacts made from meteoritic iron include ornamental or ceremonial objects such as copper earspools plated with meteoritic iron, earspools made entirely from meteoritic iron, cylindrical beads, buttons made from various materials covered with meteoritic iron sheeting, boat-shaped hollow objects, cones, slate cones plated with meteoritic iron sheeting, panpipes, headplates, and even a human ulna, or lower arm bone, decorated with meteroritic iron foil.

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