Michigan entered the Atlantis gazetteer when Frank Joseph claimed that copper was at the heart of Atlantean wealth. He further maintained that a major source of this copper was the Michigan North Peninsula from where millions of pounds of the metal were extracted. Conventional wisdom has never explained the source of the vast quantities of copper required to feed the needs of the European Bronze Age. Researchers, such as Joseph, are convinced that the abandoned Michigan mines were exploited by pre-Columbian trans-Atlantic mariners, possibly Atlanteans, in order to satisfy the demands of the Mediterranean Bronze industry.
A 2014 paper by David Hoffman offers an interesting history of the Michigan copper story from 1536 until 1879(e). Adding to that is the early claim in 1867, by Bishop Patrick Nieson Lynch of Charleston, South Carolina that the ancient exploitation of the Michigan copper had to be carried out by the Phoenicians.
A short paper in the Migration & Diffusion website(d) by Gerard Leduc in 2017, suggests a possible route that may have been used for the exportation of the Michigan copper to the Atlantic Ocean, before heading for the Mediterranean and/or Northern Europe.
Professor Ilias Mariolakos in a 2010 paper(c) supported the idea of Old World miners in Michigan, identifying prehistoric Greeks as participants.
In 1982, an ancient shipwreck was discovered near Uluburun in Turkey. On board were 10 tons of copper ingots whose purity led some to conclude that it could only have come from the Michigan mines. J.S. Wakefield has written a paper supporting this view(a), although he does not directly attribute this copper trade to Atlanteans. An isotopic analysis of the Uluburun copper ingots clearly showed them to have originated in Cyprus(k). This scientific fact undermines those seeking to link the Uluburun copper with the Michigan mines.
John Jensen has noted that “curiously, North American Indian mounds have been found to contain copper sheets made in the shape of animal hides. Called “reels,” their function, if any, is unknown. The reels do, however, resemble oddly shaped copper ingots common in European Bronze Age commerce. Their peculiar shape earned these ingots the name “oxhides” and has been found in Bronze Age shipwrecks, and are even said to be portrayed on wall paintings in Egyptian tombs. The standardized hide-like shape, with its four convenient handles, was useful in carrying and stacking the heavy ingots. Could the reels from the North American mounds have been copied from the oxhides? It is tempting to speculate that the Copper Culture miners were actually an Atlantic rim colony.“(j)
However, Gavin Menzies in The Lost Empire of Atlantis claims that Minoan Crete was in fact Atlantis and that the Minoans not only discovered America but were also responsible for the extensive exploitation of the Michigan copper mines.
Nevertheless, this remarkable claim was endorsed by science writer, Jeff Danner(f), who cites Plato’s reference to an ‘opposite continent’ as an allusion to America. More recent support has come from marine Captain, Richard deGrasse in his 2021 book, The Influence of Stonehenge on Minoan Navigation and Trade in Europe (g).
It must be stated that this idea of the Michigan copper mining being the work of Old World traders is hotly disputed by local Michigan archaeologists(b).
Nevertheless, the late Bernhard Beier published two articles(h)(i) on the debate surrounding the astounding quantity of copper apparently mined in Michigan. It is clear that he is sympathetic to the idea that Old World miners, such as Phoenicians, Berbers or Egyptians were involved.
(b) See: Archive 2102
(c) https://www.geology.upatras.gr/files/diavgeia/geology_congress/XLIII,%20Vol%201.pdf (link Broken Oct 2010) See: http://greeceandworld.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_archive.html