Curse Of The Axe

Mohawk Pipe Tomahawk, 1750, New York

Mohawk Pipe Tomahawk, 1750, New York

“Curse of the Axe: Rewriting American History” is a 2012 Canadian documentary that plays more like a detective story than a documentary. The film begins at a recent archeological dig, on the outskirts of Toronto, called Mantle. The site is so named for the farmer who owned the land where it was located. Soon it is slated for development as another suburban subdivision ringing the city. Archeologist are busy excavating Mantle that in 1500 AD was a Huron village of some 2,000 inhabitants. The dig site is a literal gold mine for archeologists. So much material was being discovered that the site’s greatest and most mysterious object went unnoted for years. It was a bit of forged iron similar to the last 2” of the pictured tomahawk’s edged blade. It had been deliberately buried 500 years earlier. In 1500 no Native Americans had the skills to forge iron and Huron and European contact was still a hundred years in the future. So how did this iron axe blade get to where it was found?

The pictured tomahawk sits in the Smithsonian and is of European manufacture. It was made to be a trade item, but it was made 250 years after the Mantle axe. In 1500 Huron axes used stone blades that looked like the bit of iron found. It was theorized that the tip of a full European axe blade was cut off to mimic the Huron model, because that is what they were used to. The documentary goes on to validate the authenticity of the artifact and develop compelling evidence for its origin and how it found its way to Mantle. Additionally, we learn how the Huron loved. They were corn farmers and to such an extent that their cornfields covered most of present day Toronto, but soon after 1600 all of the Huron were gone. European diseases killed 75% of their population and the remainder relocated to Quebec. It is theorized that the Huron people became wary of this artifact of first contact and buried it in an effort to halt its impending doom. Anne and I watched “Curse of the Axe” on Amazon Prime, but the full show is also available on YouTube. Here is a link to the trailer.

3 thoughts on “Curse Of The Axe

  1. One of the reasons the Europeans found so much “unused” land and limited communities was that through trade of goods, European illnesses advanced ahead of the explorers , traders and settlers. In a metaphorical way the European goods were indeed cursed with invisible spirits, germs.

      • The documentary demonstrates to people how science works, and what scientists do to prove their theories, beyond doubt, in order to advance knowledge. Without this kind of work, you have only speculation.

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