UCL logo

UCL Discovery

UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

The winds of change: An archaeometallurgical study of silver production in the Porco-Potosi region, southern Bolivia AD 1500-2000.

Cohen, C.R.; (2008) The winds of change: An archaeometallurgical study of silver production in the Porco-Potosi region, southern Bolivia AD 1500-2000. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

[img] Text
U592594 redacted.pdf

Download (99MB)

Abstract

This thesis considers the technology employed to produce silver within the Porco-Potosi region, southern Bolivia, providing archaeo-metallurgical data on indigenous and European silver production methods in Porco during the period AD 1500 to 2000. The research has been conducted as part of Proyecto Arqueologico Porco-Potosi (PAPP) set up by Dr Mary Van Buren (Colorado State University). The region of Porco was home to an Inca mine already prior to the Spanish conquest in 1538. Five years later, Spanish rule was established at Potosi. Indigenous technology, such as wind blown furnaces, huayrachinas, continued to be used in the region until the introduction of mercury amalgamation from 1570 onwards meant that the indigenous methods of silver production were superseded. Huayrachina technology employed at Porco dates back to at least the mid 16th century, with historical indications for earlier usage. PAPP has documented ongoing huayrachina smelting near Porco as late as 2003, showing the continuing existence of this technology. In this thesis, different silver production techniques from the archaeological and ethnographic records have been assessed using analytical techniques: Energy Dispersive X-Ray Ruorescence, Optical Microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy, and including a historical, archaeological and theoretical review of the relevant data. In Porco, a diverse range of metallurgical techniques was being used for both small and large scale production. From the early colonial periods onwards both European and indigenous methods were used simultaneously to produce silver. The Spanish influence is evident in the archaeological remains of European furnaces. The analyses of the European furnaces show that these were more efficient in extracting metal than the indigenous huayrachinas, at the expense of an increased fuel consumption. A comparison between the archaeological and recent huayrachina remains has shown differences in smelting capacity the latter having a relatively low metal yield and reduced technical efficiency, and indicating a change in ore composition. Recent silver production shows an environmental adaptation taking into account the difficulty and cost in obtaining fuel and ore. The continued use of the huayrachina over five centuries shows the persistence of indigenous technology, despite other production methods being available. The results of this project contribute to a better understanding of the history of the Porco- Potosi region, and to Andean metallurgy.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The winds of change: An archaeometallurgical study of silver production in the Porco-Potosi region, southern Bolivia AD 1500-2000.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592594
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1445274
Downloads since deposit
42Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item