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Old 24th June 2011, 09:12 PM   #29
fearn
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,247
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Ummm,

Unless we're talking iron ground from a meteorite (as in the Cape York meteorites), I'm pretty sure that the Pacific Northwest Indians didn't make their own iron.
Here's why:

1. Geology. As a west-coaster, I know a little about the geology here. It's great for gold. Copper too, in the interior. Iron? Not so much. I looked online, and I could find only one iron mine in British Columbia. The geologic environment's not very good for it. If we were talking about the area around the Great Lakes, I'd be more of a believer, because there's a lot of iron in the ground around there. Oddly, they didn't work iron there.

Anyway, iron is comparatively rare in the PNW.

2. We're missing all the other infrastructure that goes with iron working and smelting. The most important is that you can't do it in a wood fire. You need a forge, which needs charcoal, to produce the heat required to smelt iron (or even to work it).

Such heat is good for other things, like ceramics and high quality pottery, and these often come first in the archeological record.

Did the PNW people even use pottery? I don't think so. I'm also pretty sure they didn't know how to make charcoal either.

Since the infrastructure to work iron is missing and the ore is rare, I'm pretty sure they weren't making iron pieces prior to contact. Again, they may have obtained bits of meteorite and ground them into useful shapes, but that's a different kind of iron use.

My 0.0002 cents,

F
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