Metallurgy in Southern South America

  • Colin A. Cooke
  • Mark B. Abbott
  • Alexander P. Wolfe
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_9628

The Andes represent the largest source of mineral wealth in the Americas and the birthplace of New World metallurgy. Metallurgical exploitation of these resources occurred for millennia prior to colonial contact, as testified by numerous artifacts of gold, silver, and bronze. Prior to the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in 1532 AD, indigenous South Americans smelted silver ores, hammered gold sheets, and annealed copper alloy sheets, independently of technologies that, by then, were highly developed in the Old World. Despite this extensive history, we know astonishingly little about the development of metallurgical techniques through time.

Today we learn about ancient metallurgy primarily through three sources of information. The first is the collection and analysis of artifacts recovered from archaeological excavations. However, looting of archaeological sites is pervasive and as a result the archaeological record is incomplete (Jones and King 2002). This means that the...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin A. Cooke
  • Mark B. Abbott
  • Alexander P. Wolfe

There are no affiliations available