PureInsight | October 27, 2003
I.2 Prehistoric Smelting Technology and Mining Activities
A 100,000-year-old Metal Vase
In the June 1851 issue of Scientific American (volume 7, pages 298-299), a report from the Boston Transcript was published about how two parts of a metal vase were dynamited out of solid rock on Meeting House Hill in Dorchester, Massachusetts. When the two parts were put together, they formed a bell-shaped vase that was 4 1/2 inches high, 6 1/2 inches at the base, 2 1/2 inches at the top, and an eighth of an inch thick. The metal was composed of an alloy of zinc and a considerable portion of silver. On the sides were six flower bouquets inlaid with pure silver, and around the lower part was a vine or wreath also inlaid with silver. The chasing, carving, and inlaying are exquisitely done by some unknown craftsman. This curiosity was blown out of solid pudding stone (a type of sedimentary rock) from 15 feet below the surface. Estimated age — 100,000 years. The vase was circulated from museum to museum and then, unfortunately, disappeared.
Scientific American's June 1851 issue reported that a metal vase was blasted out of solid rock on Meeting House Hill in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The rock the vase was encased in was estimated to be 100,000 years old.
A Spark Plug from 500,000 Years Ago?
On February 13,1961, three rock hunters — Mike Mikesell, Wallace Lane, and Virginia Maxey — were collecting geodes about 12 miles east-southeast of Olancha, California. Geodes are spherical stones with hollow interiors lined with crystals. On this particular day, while searching in the Coso Mountains, they found one stone located near the top of a peak approximately 4,300 feet in elevation and about 340 feet above the dry bed of Owens Lake. They took it to be a geode, but later found it was not, because it bore traces of fossil shells.
The next day when Mikesell cut the stone in half, he nearly ruined a ten-inch diamond saw in the process, for it did not contain crystals but rather something totally unexpected. Inside were the remains of some type of mechanical device. Beneath the outer layer of hardened clay, pebbles, and fossils was a hexagonal-shaped layer of a substance resembling wood, softer than agate or jasper. This layer formed a casing around a cylinder with a diameter of around ¾ of an inch made of solid white porcelain or ceramic. In the center of the cylinder was a two-millimeter shaft of bright, brassy metal. This shaft, the rock hunters discovered, was magnetic, and after several years of exposure never showed traces of oxidation. Also, surrounding the ceramic cylinder were rings of corroded copper. Embedded too in the rock, though separate from the cylinder, were two more items that seemed to resemble a nail and a washer.
The rock hunters sent their find to the Charles Fort Society, which specializes in investigating things out of the ordinary. The Society took an X-ray of the cylindrical object enclosed in the fossil-encrusted rock and found further evidence that it was indeed some form of mechanical apparatus. The X-rays revealed that the metallic shaft was corroded at one end, but on the other end terminated in what appeared to be a spring or helix of metal. As a whole, the "Coso artifact" is now believed to be something more than a piece of machinery. The carefully shaped ceramic and metal shaft, with its copper components, hints at some type of electrical instrument. The closest modern apparatus that researchers have been able to equate it with is a spark plug. However, the spring or helix terminal does not correspond to any known spark plug today. A competent geologist tested the rock in which the instrument was found and discovered it was 500,000 years old.
A Cut-Iron Nail More Than One Million Years Old
The Illinois Springfield Republican reported in 1851: A businessman named Hiram de Witt had brought back with him from a trip to California a piece of auriferous quartz rock about the size of a man's fist, and while showing the rock to a friend, it slipped from his hand and split open upon hitting the floor. There, in the center of the quartz, they discovered a cut-iron nail, six-penny size, slightly corroded but entirely straight, with a perfect head. The quartz was given an age of over one million years.
A Metal Screw 21 Million Years Old
In 1865, a two-inch metal screw was discovered in a piece of feldspar unearthed from the Abbey Mine in Treasure City, Nevada. The screw had long ago oxidized, but its form — particularly the shape of its threads — could be clearly seen in the feldspar. The stone was calculated to be 21 million years in age.
A Manmade Nail Over 40 Million Years Old
In 1844, Sir David Brewster submitted a report to the British Association for the Advancement of Science that created quite a stir. A nail obviously made by humans had been found half embedded in a sandstone block excavated from the Kindgoodie Quarry near Inchyra, in northern Britain. It was badly corroded, but nonetheless identifiable. The sandstone was determined to be at least 40 million years old.
A Gold Chain Found in Coal Over 300 Million Years Old
On June 9, 1891, Mrs. S.W. Culp of Morrisonville, Illinois, was shoveling coal into her kitchen stove when a large lump broke in two and a gold chain fell out from the center. The chain, about 10 inches long, made of 8-carat gold and weighing 8 pennyweight, was described as being "of antique workmanship." The June 11 issue of the Morrisonville Times reported that investigators were convinced the chain had not simply been accidentally dropped in with the coal. One portion of the coal lump still clung to the chain, while the part that had separated from it still bore the impression of where the chain had been encased. The < i>Times could only comment: "Here is one for the student of archaeology who loves to puzzle his brain over the geological construction of the Earth from whose ancient depth the curious are always dropping out." In this case, the "curious" item "dropped out" of a piece of coal from the Pennsylvanian era —and was over 300 million years old.
An Iron Pot in a Chunk of Coal Dated from 300 to 325 Million Years Old
A similar discovery took place in Oklahoma. In 1912, two employees of the Municipal Electric Plant of Thomas, Oklahoma, were shoveling coal into the plant furnaces, using fuel that had been mined near neighboring Wilberton. One chunk of coal was too large to handle, so the workmen took a sledgehammer to it. Once it broke open, however, the workmen found that the chunk contained an iron pot. When the pot was extricated from the coal, a mould of the pot could be seen in the two pieces of the matrix. Several experts subsequently examined the coal around the iron pot and determined that it was formed between 300 and 325 million years ago.
2.8-Billion-Year-Old Metal Spheres
Miners at Klerksdorp in South Africa found a few hundred metal spheres in a stratum of earth estimated to be 2.8 billion years old. The spheres contained very finely etched grooves, which specialists concluded could not have occurred by any natural process.
Prehistoric Mining and Smelting
Following are some discoveries by archaeologists that enable us to further comprehend what prehistoric civilization was like. Such discoveries are like windows into the past, enabling us to observe prehistoric people mining, refining metals, and producing arts and crafts.
In 1968, Dr. Koriun Megurtchian of the former Soviet Union unearthed what is considered to be the oldest large-scale metallurgic factory in the world at site called Medzamor in Soviet Armenia. Over 4,500 years ago, an unknown prehistoric people worked at this site having over 200 furnaces to produce an assortment of vases, knives, spearheads, rings, bracelets, and other such items. The Medzamor craftsmen wore filters over their mouths and gloves while they labored and expertly fashioned their wares of copper, lead, zinc, iron, gold, tin, manganese, and fourteen kinds of bronze. The smelters also produced an assortment of metallic paints, ceramics, and glass. Scientific organizations from the Soviet Union, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany verified that several pairs of tweezers made of exceptionally high-grade steel were taken from layers predating the first millennium B.C.
In the July 1969 issue of Science et vie, French journalist Jean Vidal expressed the belief that these findings point to an unknown period of technological development. "Medzamor," he wrote, "was founded by the wise men of earlier civilizations. They possessed knowledge they had acquired during a remote age unknown to us that deserves to be called 'scientific' and 'industrial'."
In addition, American archaeologists discovered prehistoric copper mines at Isle Royale in northern Michigan. Even the Indian natives whose ancestors had lived in the region for centuries didn't know the existence of the mines. The mine sites present evidence that prehistoric mining activities produced several thousand tons of copper, but archeologists did not find any trace of long-term habitation near the mines.
The strangest discovery has to be the Lion coal mine in Utah. In 1953, miners unexpectedly discovered a tunnel in the mine that had never recorded. The coal in that tunnel was oxidized and had lost its commercial value — proof that previous mining had been done in this area. In August 1953, two scholars from the Department of Engineering and the Department of Ancient Anthropology at the University of Utah investigated the mine, declaring that the local Indians had never used coal. Both the Isle Royale copper mine and the Lion coal mine present evidence that prehistoric miners developed technology to extract and transport coal to distant places [PI editors have not been able to find independent evidence confirming the existence of these two mines.].
There is one area of ancient mining activity that geologists and anthropologists have paid close attention to, and it was discovered in the rock strata of the Pioch Farrus mine in France. From 1786 to 1788, the quarry provided massive quantities of limestone to rebuild a local judiciary building. Usually, the miners found a layer of silt present between the layers of rock. When the miners dug to the eleventh layer of rock, approaching a depth of 12 to 15 meters under the ground, another layer of silt appeared. But when miners were cleaning out this silt, they were surprised to find the remnant piles of stone columns and fragments that signified that the rock was cut and mined. Digging deeper, they were stunned to discover coins, the wooden handle of an iron hammer that had fossilized, and other petrified wooden tools. Finally, they discovered a plank that had petrified and cracked into fragments. After the fragments were put back together, it turned out to be precisely the type of plank used by miners, and moreover, it was exactly the same type of plank being used today.
There are many similar discoveries being made in prehistoric mines, and many other mysterious relics unearthed. They have not only aroused people's curiosity but also presented a significant message to archaeologists — it's high time to push the origin of human civilization to a much earlier time.
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/3/19/20890.html