Abstract

The past four decades of research reveal the Andean zone of South America as a heartland of metallurgy in the prehistoric world. Complex metallurgy developed in what are today Colombia (northern Andes), Ecuador and Peru (central Andes), and Bolivia and northwest Argentina (south-central Andes). This chapter follows the central and south-central Andean contributions to this prehistoric development from its inception to its political use within the Inca state. The pan-Andean nature of metallurgy through time constitutes a major focus of the chapter with respect to extractive and production technologies and to the deeply rooted cultural components of the technologies. Distinctions between the central Andean preference for working metal and the south-central tradition of casting, or the simultaneous developments of arsenic bronze in the center and tin bronze in the south, arose within a shared framework for the appropriate social arenas in which metallurgy and its products performed: as indicators of social status, of political power, as manifestations of religious, and ritual behaviors and awe.

Keywords

Copper Silver Gold Copper-gold Copper-silver Copper-silver-gold alloys Arsenic Bronze Tin bronze Copper-arsenic-nickel bronze Technological style Cultural components of metallurgy 

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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