The Red Score: Tin Talks

the-red-score-tin-talks

The history of Iceland has a Discredited Documents and Anomalous Artefacts problem.

That Nordic island was not colonized by Europeans before the 9th c., and, yet, it has Roman coins covered by dark earth:

The coin of Probus [conventionally 276-282; GH]) was discovered in 1905 together with a glass bead […]

“You can see stones that seem to be laid in rows, and even floor tiles, and the farmer has told me that pieces of charcoal has been found in the area; and between the rows of stones there was a thin layer of black charcoal residue.”

Roman Coins in Iceland – Roman Remnants or Viking Exotica
Davíð Bjarni Heiðarsson – 2010

http://skemman.is/stream/get/1946/5084/15120/2/Badbh.pdf

Islam’s Chronology: Were Arabs Really Ignorant of Coinage and Writing for 700 Years?
Gunnar Heinsohn – 21 November 2013

http://www.q-mag.org/_media/gunnar-islam-and-arab-chronology-heinsohn-21-11-2013.pdf

Icelandic saga accounts of life in Greenland were composed in the 13th century and later, and do not constitute primary sources for the history of early Norse Greenland.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland

Only one clue surfaced in the Icelandic Annals, and then burned up in a fire at the Skálholt bishopric in 1630.

As bishop of Skålholt from 1630 to 1638, Gisle Oddsson reconstructed in 1637 the most important clue of what happened to the Norse from memory.

He had poured over the books in the library while his father was the previous bishop, and decided that the Greenland material was too valuable to lose, that in 1342 the inhabitants of Greenland left the true faith and went to America.

The Lost Western Settlement Of Greenland 1342
Carol S Francis – California State University, Sacramento – 2011

http://csus-dspace.calstate.edu/bitstream/handle/10211.9/1514/The%20Lost%20Western%20Settlement%20of%20Greenland,%201342.pdf?sequence=1

Unsurprisingly, the official history of Greenland has very similar problems.

These problems are especially evident in the Norse Middle Settlement.

Firstly, historians need to explain away [or simply ignore] a dark earth layer with “a lot of charcoal and bone remains” discovered in the distinctly treeless Middle Settlement.

the-lost-vikings

Secondly, historians need to explain away [or simply ignore] the anomalous layers of sand and gravel that cover many of the farms in the Western Settlement.

the-farm-beneath-the-sand

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/greenland-heinsohns-phantom-years/

Thirdly, historians need to explain away [or simply ignore] why there are “no written records” for the Middle Settlement.

The area was settled by about twenty farms of Norsemen, a district called the “Middle Settlement” by modern archaeologists from its placement between the larger Western and Eastern settlements.

It is the smallest and least well known of the three, and no written records of its residents survive, for which reasons it is believed to have been established last (and abandoned first) of the three.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivittuut

middle-settlement

Given these issues it’s hardly surprising that the Wikipedia entry for the Middle Settlement is discretely tucked away in the Ivittuut entry.

Ivittuut, formerly Ivigtût (Kalaallisut: “Grassy Place”,) is an abandoned mining town near Cape Desolation in southwestern Greenland, in the modern Sermersooq municipality on the ruins of the former Norse Middle Settlement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Settlement_%28Greenland%29

Ivittuut is “one of the only places in the world” that has “naturally occurring cryolite”.

ivittuut-1940

Ivittuut is one of the only places in the world so far discovered to have naturally occurring cryolite (Na3AlF6, sodium aluminum fluoride), an important agent in modern aluminum extraction.

ivittuut-quarry-1899

Danish engineers began mining the cryolite itself in 1859 and in 1864 the Danish Kriolit Mine og Handels Selskabet was granted a monopoly on its extraction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Settlement_%28Greenland%29

It is mined as an open cut, and being near the water’s edge, on a steep cliff, after hand-picking, it is loaded directly upon vessels, which moor to the cliff.

The ore deposits of the United States and Canada – James Furman Kemp – 1906
https://archive.org/details/oredepositsofuni00kemp

Digging a little deeper it’s apparent there are also “veins of silver-bearing lead” at Ivittuut.

The town’s cryolite deposit was discovered in 1799 and the veins of silver-bearing lead surrounding it were mined by the British engineer J.W. Tayler before the silver content was found to be too low to make the operation practical.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Settlement_%28Greenland%29

Curiously, the Greenland cryolite was used as a local snuff additive during the 19th century.

Evigtok (which signifies in the Esquimaux language “a place where there is plenty”) is distant about twelve miles from the Danish settlement of Arksut, and forms a small bay in the Fiord of Arksut ; irregular ground, surrounded by a ridge of mountains, rising abruptly to the height of about 2000 feet ; making the enclosed space appear the half of a deep basin about two miles in diameter.

The cryolite has been hitherto applied to few purposes.

The Greenlanders were the first to turn it to account, which they did in a curious manner, viz. the manufacture of snuff.

They grind the tobacco-leaf between two pieces of cryolite, and the snuff so prepared contains about half its weight of cryolite powder.

This snuff they prefer to any other.

On the Cryolite of Evigtok, Greenland – J. W. Tayler
The Quarterly journal of the Geological Society of London – Volume 12 – 1856

https://archive.org/stream/quarterlyjourna121856geol#page/140/mode/1up

But the more fascinating aspect of the Ivittuut [aka Evigtok] quarry is that it potentially gave the Middle Settlement easy access to a vast array [aka smorgasbord] of geological goodies including: silver, tin, copper, iron and lead ores [see footnotes for the full report].

This rock is traversed in several directions by small veins and masses of cryolite, isolated from the larger body of that mineral, in which, as well as in the rock, are to be found numerous crystals of a variety of tantalite, oxide of tin, blende, molybdenum, much galena, copper-pyrites, arsenical and iron-pyrites, and sparry iron-ore.

In this rock are many small caverns, arising from the decomposition of the felspar, and probably also from the decomposition of the cryolite, which is here porphyritic, containing crystals of felspar and quartz. The floors of these caverns are covered with loose crystals and fragments of felspar, and in some places kaolin, crystals of tin-stone, and carbonate of iron.

In one of these cavities is a large vein of arsenical pyrites and purple fluor-spar ; also a large vein of black cryolite, containing copper- and iron-pyrites, and red felspar.
… … … … … …
We will now refer to the transverse section of the cryolite (fig. 2).
transverse-section-cryolite-at-evigtok
In the upper wall of gneiss, about 2 feet above its junction with the cryolite, runs a vein of sparry iron, with the same dip as the cryolite ; and a layer of opake quartz-crystals lines the under side of the gneiss, between the iron-ore and the cryolite : sometimes sinking several feet into the cryolite, but never rising into the gneiss, is a vein of argentiferous galena, containing 83½ per cent, of lead, and 45 ounces of silver in the ton of ore ; this was worked during the year 1854-5, and some good ore was extracted.

On the Cryolite of Evigtok, Greenland – J. W. Tayler
The Quarterly journal of the Geological Society of London – Volume 12 – 1856

https://archive.org/stream/quarterlyjourna121856geol#page/140/mode/1up

ivittuut-minerals

More significantly:

The surface rocks at Ivittuut [aka Evigtok] contained very obvious veins of tin which were up to one inch thick at the surface – with smaller veins being three inches thick at a depth of six feet.

On the Veins of Tin-ore, at Evigtok, near Arksut, Greenland
J. W. Tayler, F.G.S., Esq. Mining-Engineer to the Greenland Mining-Association

The area over which the veins of tin extend is about 1500 feet in length, by 80 in breadth; their number is eighteen or twenty; and they run in various directions, some E. and W., others N.E. and S.W., or N. and S.

The tin occurs also disseminated in crystals through the rocks, and accompanying the finer-grained galena and tantalite.

The appearance of the veins at the surface is not very promising, the tin being in small detached crystals, scattered through the gangue (which is mostly quartz).

The widest of those veins is 10 inches, – the tin being 1 inch, occupying one side of the vein.

The gangue here is felspar, quartz, sparry iron (carbonate of iron), and fluor-spar.

This vein runs E. and W., into the white cryolite.

Another vein, about 200 feet west from the cryolite, is visible for about thirty paces; at the surface it is not more than of an inch thick, but at a depth of 6 feet it is 3 inches thick.

Other veins are, at the surface, mere strings, varying from to of an inch thick.

Nearly all these veins occur in a large vein or bed of felspar and quartz, some of the crystals of the latter having a diameter of 18 inches.

This mass contains, in a limited space, various other minerals, such as galena, blende, copper-, iron-, and arsenical-pyrites, fluor-spar, black cryolite, tantalite, molybdena, sparry iron, zircon, &c.

On the Veins of Tin-ore, at Evigtok, near Arksut, Greenland
J. W. Tayler, F.G.S., Esq. Mining-Engineer to the Greenland Mining-Association
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society – Volume 15 – 1859

http://jgslegacy.lyellcollection.org/content/15/1-2/606.abstract

In other words:

It’s very unlikely the Middle Settlement didn’t realise it had easy access to the best ingredients for making the strongest bronze: Copper and Tin.

Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12% tin and often with the addition of other metals (such as aluminium, manganese, nickel or zinc) and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze

Furthermore, easily accessible tin is a very rare commodity.

The first such bronzes were probably a lucky accident from tin contamination of copper ores, but by 2000 BC, we know that tin was being mined on purpose for the production of bronze.

This is amazing, given that tin is a semi-rare metal, and even a rich cassiterite ore only has 5% tin.

Also, it takes special skills (or special instruments) to find it and to locate the richer lodes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smelting

However, this bronze scenario creates significant problems for the mainstream because it implies the Norse Middle Settlement was [officially] established sometime before 500 BCE.

The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 1700–500 BC.

The Bronze Age culture of this era succeeded the Late Neolithic Stone Age culture and was followed by the Pre-Roman Iron Age.

The archaeological legacy of the Nordic Bronze Age culture is rich, but the ethnic and linguistic affinities of it are unknown, in the absence of written sources.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_Bronze_Age

greenland-cultures

The Norse in Greenland – 2 Oct 2007 – Dr. Kathryn Dennin
http://www.yorku.ca/kdenning/+++2150%202007-8/2150%20special%20case%20Norse%20in%20Greenland.htm

Perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at Greenland’s cultural timeline…

FOOTNOTES
The complete On the Cryolite of Evigtok, Greenland report by J. W. Tayler.

The few remarks which I am about to offer relate to the mineral Cryolite, and the nature of the district in which it occurs; and I propose to lay before the Society some observations which the exploration of a rich lead-vein situated in the Cryolite has afforded me the opportunity of making.

Evigtok (which signifies in the Esquimaux language ” a place where there is plenty”) is distant about twelve miles from the Danish settlement of Arksut, and forms a small bay in the Fiord of Arksut ; irregular ground, surrounded by a ridge of mountains, rising abruptly to the height of about 2000 feet ; making the enclosed space appear the half of a deep basin about two miles in diameter.

Evigtok is noted in Greenland for its abundance of fish in the summer season ; shoals of capelins blacken the small bays, whilst thousands of codfish swim close to the shore in pursuit of them, both of which are taken by the natives in large quantities.

At the foot of the mountains and on their sides are to be found many grouse, hares, and arctic foxes.

In the winter season immense flocks of eider ducks and other water-fowl resort to this part of the Fiord.

Vegetation, such as it is in Greenland, also prospers here : a miniature forest of Salix Arctica, about 4 feet high, covers about a square mile, and the Angelica, Rumex, Taraxacum, Potentilla, and other plants are met with more abundantly than is general in Greenland; the spot appearing like a garden amidst the general barrenness of a land buried deep in snow nine months out of the twelve.

cryolite-at-evigtok

But Evigtok is more remarkable as being the only place in the world in which the mineral cryolite has hitherto been found.

By reference to the horizontal section (fig. 1), two trap-veins will be seen bounding a space containing the cryolite and the minerals accompanying it.

To this space I shall confine my remarks.

The section is not drawn accurately to a scale, but it is about 1/24 inch to the fathom.

Starting from the western trap-vein, which is situated in schistose gneiss and hornblende-schist, we find the gneiss gradually losing its slaty structure, until in the neighbourhood of the cryolite it becomes granitic, and now contains numerous metallic traces ; before arriving at the cryolite, we find a wide vein of white quartz and felspar, running about S.W. ; the quartz and felspar are in very large masses and crystals, some crystals of quartz measuring a foot in thickness.

This rock is traversed in several directions by small veins and masses of cryolite, isolated from the larger body of that mineral, in which, as well as in the rock, are to be found numerous crystals of a variety of tantalite, oxide of tin, blende, molybdenum, much galena, copper-pyrites, arsenical and iron-pyrites, and sparry iron-ore.

In this rock are many small caverns, arising from the decomposition of the felspar, and probably also from the decomposition of the cryolite, which is here porphyritic, containing crystals of felspar and quartz.

The floors of these caverns are covered with loose crystals and fragments of felspar, and in some places kaolin, crystals of tin-stone, and carbonate of iron.

In one of these cavities is a large vein of arsenical pyrites and purple fluor-spar ; also a large vein of black cryolite, containing copper- and iron-pyrites, and red felspar.

Smaller cavities are found when blasting, the sides of which are completely covered with crystals of the tantalite, resembling on a large scale the crystalline cavities in amygdaloidal traps.

In this quartz- and felspar-rock there is a remarkable vein, containing soft ferruginous clay and rolled pebbles, sparry iron-ore, and copper-pyrites.

The copper lies over the sparry iron, and runs in fine threads between the folia of the partly decomposed iron-ore, appearing as if it had run into it in a state of solution.

To this quartz- and felspar-rock succeeds more granitic gneiss, in which the cryolite occurs ; this gneiss gradually loses its granitic character as it approaches the eastern trap-vein, where it again takes on the same slaty appearance as at the western trap-vein.

transverse-section-cryolite-at-evigtok

We will now refer to the transverse section of the cryolite (fig. 2).

The cryolite forms a bed or vein parallel to the strata, and is about 80 feet thick and 300 feet long ; it dips to the south, at an angle of nearly 45°, and runs nearly E. and W.

In the upper wall of gneiss, about 2 feet above its junction with the cryolite, runs a vein of sparry iron, with the same dip as the cryolite ; and a layer of opake quartz-crystals lines the under side of the gneiss, between the iron-ore and the cryolite : sometimes sinking several feet into the cryolite, but never rising into the gneiss, is a vein of argentiferous galena, containing 83½ per cent, of lead, and 45 ounces of silver in the ton of ore ; this was worked during the year 1854-5, and some good ore was extracted.

The cryolite below this vein is impregnated for a few feet with galena, copper-pyrites, and sparry iron-ore ; but beyond, until within a few feet from the under wall of gneiss, it is quite pure and white ; within 10 feet, however, of this under-gneiss, it again contains the same minerals disseminated, but is here separated from the gneiss by a vein of dark purple fluor-spar.

The gneiss on both sides of the cryolite contains much fluor-spar disseminated.

The upper part of the cryolite at its junction with the gneiss is much decomposed, leaving many cavities, which contain loose crystals of sparry iron.

At a depth of about 10 feet from the surface, the cryolite, although free from foreign matter, assumes a darker colour ; and at 15 feet it is nearly black, and more translucent and compact ; and, as the deeper we sunk we found the cryolite become darker, there is reason to believe that below this depth the mineral will be found to be wholly black.

As the white cryolite is only found at the surface, and bears evidence of partial disintegration by having lost some of its compactness and translucency, it is reasonable to suppose that the cryolite was originally wholly dark-coloured or black.

When the black cryolite is heated to redness, it loses about 1 per cent, (moisture and acid), the whole of its colour, and part of its translucency, becoming perfectly white, like the cryolite at the surface.

And from this fact we may conclude that the white colour of the cryolite at the surface has been produced by a similar cause.

I consider it probable that the trap now found at each end of the cryolite has formerly overlain it, heating it superficially, and rendering it white ; there are at present no remains of overlying trap between these two veins, but in this country the trap and allied rocks disintegrate most rapidly from the effects of frost.

The cryolite itself has considerably decreased, from this and other causes ; for I found a piece of it imbedded in the upper gneiss, more than 8 feet above the highest part of the cryolite, proving that it formerly stood at that height.

In working the lead-vein, we sunk about 30 feet on the dip of the cryolite ; it probably extends to a great depth, and exists in great quantity.

The fact of its solitary occurrence in this spot induces speculation in regard to its origin.

The number of minerals, mostly crystallized, which accompany it, indicate some powerful and long-continued agency to have operated in a limited space.

The few facts I have stated may suggest some opinions which may elucidate the as yet ill-understood subject of mineral veins.

The cryolite has been hitherto applied to few purposes.

The Greenlanders were the first to turn it to account, which they did in a curious manner, viz. the manufacture of snuff.

They grind the tobacco-leaf between two pieces of cryolite, and the snuff so prepared contains about half its weight of cryolite powder.

This snuff they prefer to any other.

In Europe cryolite has been employed to a limited extent ; but the recent discovery of the mode of preparing aluminium will probably render it a valuable ore of that metal.

On the Cryolite of Evigtok, Greenland – J. W. Tayler
The Quarterly journal of the Geological Society of London – Volume 12 – 1856

https://archive.org/stream/quarterlyjourna121856geol#page/140/mode/1up

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5 Responses to The Red Score: Tin Talks

  1. Interesting – my first job in the mining industry was with John Taylor and Sons, London.

  2. Otherwise if this location was a mining operation, then surely some one, some time, might have drilled a diamond core hole, or a percussion hole into the deposit? Is it mined out, or is it fallow because the price of extraction and sale is uneconomic at present?

    • malagabay says:

      Uneconomic and abandoned.

      … the veins of silver-bearing lead surrounding it were mined by the British engineer J.W. Tayler before the silver content was found to be too low to make the operation practical…

      Cryolite was eventually synthesized, reducing the importance of the mine, and production was finally found uneconomical and discontinued in 1987.

      The community was abandoned soon after.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivigtut

  3. Pingback: The Red Score: Copper Calls | MalagaBay

  4. Pingback: The Red Score: The Baffin Crucible | MalagaBay

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