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Copper Medallion

  • Copper Medallion
  • Copper Medallion
  • Copper Medallion
  • Copper Medallion

Native Floridians recovered various metals from European shipwrecks off Florida’s coasts and re-fashioned the metal into objects and ornaments using traditional techniques, forms and decoration. Although their cultural meaning is unknown, their beauty remains.

Story

Copper Medallion by Bill Marquardt

This is one of only about five dozen metal medallions found in South Florida archaeological sites. They are sometimes called “ceremonial tablets.” They have a common shape and similar markings, but each one is unique. Archaeologists found this one at the Blueberry Site in Highlands County. The property owners, Anne and Charles Reynolds, donated the entire collection to our Museum where it is being actively studied by students.

This example is unusual because it is made of pure copper, not a copper alloy. It’s about two and three-quarters inches high and a little over an inch wide. These medallions were apparently meant to be worn as pendants because they have a small tab with a hole on the end.

Metals such as copper are not native to Florida. The closest source of copper in the U.S. is in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. But more likely the Indians salvaged metals from Spanish shipwrecks and then reworked them into these unusual medallions. They may have been worn by either town chiefs or religious leaders.

Bill Marquardt
Curator, South Florida Archaeology & Ethnography
Director, Randell Research Center
Florida Museum of Natural History

Summary

Copper Medallion
Made by Belle Glade people, Highlands Co., Florida
Dates to 1550–1700

Exhibit Area

Objects Tell Stories

Theme

Blended Cultures

Copper MedallionRadha Krueger