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vol.45 issue1PREHISTORIC METAL MINING IN BRITAIN: THE STUDY OF COBBLE STONE MINING TOOLS BASED ON ARTEFACT STUDY, ETHNOGRAPHY AND EXPERIMENTATION author indexsubject indexarticles search
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Chungará (Arica)

On-line version ISSN 0717-7356

Abstract

SHIMADA, Izumi  and  CRAIG, Alan K. THE STYLE, TECHNOLOGY AND ORGANIZATION OF SICÁN MINING AND METALLURGY, NORTHERN PERU: INSIGHTS FROM HOLISTIC STUDY. Chungará (Arica) [online]. 2013, vol.45, n.1, pp.03-31. ISSN 0717-7356.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-73562013000100001.

This paper explains what Shimada has termed a holistic approach to craft production and illustrates its value by discussing insights gained into the style, technology, and organization of Middle and Late Sicán (ca. AD 900-1,375) mining and copper-arsenic metallurgy. After a brief characterization of the geographical and cultural settings of pertinent research by the Sicán Archaeological Project (1978-present) and the holistic approach, we discuss specific methods and strategies for locating and dating pre-Hispanic mines. Based on our examination of eight mines in the study area that supplied copper oxides and/or arsenic-bearing ores, we offer a general characterization of Sicán mining, emphasizing the integral character of local mining and autochthonous copper-arsenic alloy (also called arsenical bronze) production at nearby smelting sites (six excavated to date). Our analyses of primary context samples of ore and smelting products and by-products recovered at smelting sites show that copper-arsenic was deliberately and locally smelted and that arsenic was derived from scorodite (oxide form of arsenopyrite) and/or weathered sulfide ores available near the surface of local mines. Additionally, we discuss insights gained into careful and sustainable charcoal fuel management and the "modular organization" of metallurgical and other productive activities.

Keywords : Sicán; holistic approach; copper-arsenic; Andean archaeometallurgy.

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