ornaments — not weapons or instruments. So in Africa, although it is true that the natives make wonderful assegai-blades, we believe that they use both copper and iron far more for leg-bands, arm-rings, and other decorations, than for articles of utility. As due to the ornament-search of man, metal-working possesses a special interest for us, and its beginnings deserve consideration. The first steps are well shown in North America. Here not only the recent tribes but also the builders of the mounds used native copper from Lake Superior.
|Fig. 10. — Nubian Girl with Nose Ornament.|
This was not smelted, but was beaten into shape with hammers of stone. Thin sheets were also beaten out between two stones and used for covering wooden forms. Prof. Putnam has found some very interesting spool-shaped ear ornaments of copper in Ohio mounds. These are not easy to describe, but they are very ingeniously made. They consist of two convex-concave disks of beaten copper, from an inch to two inches in diameter, held together by a narrow column of rolled copper-sheet. Such have been found in other metals as well as in copper. In one altar mound of the Turner group were found two bushels of ornaments of stone, copper, mica, shells, teeth, pearls, etc., nearly all perforated for suspension. Several copper ornaments, viz., bracelets, beads, and ear ornaments, were coated with beaten silver; one copper pendant was covered with beaten gold; one ear ornament of copper was covered with meteoric iron, and half of one of these ornaments was composed entirely of this latter metal.
Just how smelting arose we do not know. It may have been an accidental discovery, but, if so, the accident must have occurred in different places and at different times, as there is good evidence that the art has independently originated at several centers. In western Europe bronze preceded iron. In the heart of Africa it seems as if there had been no bronze age before the iron age. The Africans are often remarkable smiths, producing an excellent quality of iron with a very primitive outfit. The bellows consist of two wooden or pottery bowls with bladder tops, or of leather sacks; from these run pipes made of wood or of antelope horns;