Gold in the Andes

  • Mark Aldenderfer
Living reference work entry

For almost 4,000 years, gold was held in high esteem by many societies that populated the Andes, and indeed, gold continues to be extracted in mines across the region.

Gold has a number of important properties that have made it attractive to cultures all over the world. It is both malleable (can be easily shaped by hammering) and ductile (it can be hammered into very thin forms and is thus highly flexible and not brittle). It can be used to form alloys with other metals such as copper and silver and in so doing add bright color to the finished product, and it resists corrosion and is unaffected by moisture or air. But perhaps most importantly, its golden-red color is attractive to the eye. It reflects sunlight easily, and when polished, it is quite brilliant. Given its relative rarity and the ease with which it can be worked, gold has long served as a desired and sought after commodity no matter what shapes it has taken. Simply put, gold signals prestige, status, wealth, and social...


Gold Foil Gold Bead Golden Object Late Intermediate Period Complex Artifact 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaMercedUSA