Metals found in lake mud in the central Peruvian Andes have revealed the first evidence for pre-Colonial metalsmithing there.
These findings illustrate a way that archaeologists can recreate the past even when looters have destroyed the valuable artifacts that would ordinarily be relied upon to reveal historical secrets. For instance, the new research hints at a tax imposed on local villages by ancient Inca rulers to force a switch from production of copper to silver.
Pre-Colonial bronze artifacts have previously been found in the central Peruvian Andes dating back to about 1000 AD, after the fall of the Wari or Huari civilization , the largest empire in the Andes before the Incas . However, it has been unclear how metallurgy had developed there, or whether or not these artifacts even came from the Andes, instead perhaps coming from trading with coastal villages.
“There’s a lot you can’t tell about history from the metal artifacts here because there’s been a lot of looting, during both modern times and when the Spanish first arrived to melt down what silver and other metals were there to send back to the Spanish crown,” said researcher Colin Cooke, an environmental scientist at the University of Alberta in Canada.
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