This Why Files article investigates trading, sources, and use of metal by Arctic peoples. Until recently, metal was seldom found at Arctic archeological digs. In 1994, a group of scientists found many iron and copper objects by simply using a metal detector. By analyzing isotopes, scientists were able to show that both iron and copper came from few sources that were traded widely. Starting around 1,000 AD, iron that came from a meteorite found in Cape York, Greenland was used in preference to flaking stone. Much of the copper came from the Coronation Gulf-Coppermine River area along Canada's central Arctic coast. Other metals may have been traded across the Bering Strait. Archeologist Allen McCartney was interviewed for this article.


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