June 6, 2021

Hopewell Iron Beads Traced to a Specific Meteorite in Minnesota

Researchers have traced a set of iron Hopewell beads to a meteorite fragment. In 1945, two dozen tube shaped metal beads were found in a Havana, Illinois Hopewell burial mound. In 1970, they fond the beads were similar to beads at the Smithsonian because that had a Widmanstatten pattern that is found when a meteorite is cut open and polished.

An Anoka, Minn. meteorite fragment with virtually identical ratios of iron, nickel and phosphorous, and very close matches in other trace elements, and fine-grained structural similarities turned out to be the best match for the Havana beads. The Anoka fragment was found in 1961, part of a larger meteorite that fragmented.

At Hopewell sites, they have found  fossilized sharks teeth from the Gulf Coast, mica from the Appalachians, obsidian and grizzly bear teeth from Yellowstone. So the Hopewell constructed a vast trade network. Of the 100 Illinois area Hopewell sites, only 5 ounces of iron artifacts have been found. The Hopewell used a lot of copper but used very little iron, found only in three burials

The research was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science