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Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Song, Jeeun
Term Paper, AP World History Class, December 2009

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
I.1 What is metallurgy ?
I.2 How is metallurgy significant in culture or history ?
II. General Overview of the Andean Region
II.1 Geography of the Andean Region
II.2 General history of the region
III. Metallurgy in Pre-Columbian Civilizations
III.1 The origins of metallurgy
III.2 Andean Philosophy on Metallurgy
III.3 Development of Metallurgical Technology
III.3.1 Tumbaga
III.3.2 Copper Alloys
III.3.3 Usage of Sheet Metal
III.4 Usages of Metal products
III.5 Comparison of Andean Metallurgy with Other Cultures
IV. The Incan Empire
IV.1 Metallurgy under Inca Administration
IV.2 Changes in Metallurgy
V. Under Colonial Rule
V.1 Spanish conquest of the Andean region
V.2 Large-scale development of mines (16th C)
V.2.1 Traditional methods of mining, 1532-1560s
V.2.2 Crisis of the 1560s
V.2.3 The Amalgamation Process and the Mita
V.2.4 Decline of the mining industry
V.2.5 Bourbon Reforms and Revival
V.3 Metalwork in the colonies
VI. Independence (1810-1825)
VI.1 Consequences of the Wars of Independence
VI.2 Stagnation of the Mining Economy, 1820-1870
VII. Neo-Colonialism, 1870-1930
VII.1 Foreign Investment
VII.2 The Great Export Boom, 1870-1930
VIII. Modern to Today
IX. Conclusion

I. Introduction

I.1 What is metallurgy ?
            The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines metallurgy as "the art and science of extracting metals from their ores and modifying the metals for use." (1) Other scholars place more emphasis on the creation of objects, describing metallurgy as the "process of working metal into artifacts." Either way, metallurgy - in both technological and artistic aspects - has always been an important factor in early civilizations and the ensuing societies. In the South American Andes in particular, metallurgy has always been of especial significance. This paper will discuss the rich history of metallurgy in the Andean region and its lasting presence in Andean societies, from its beginnings in the first native cultures to the metal industries of today.

I.2 How is metallurgy significant in culture or history ?
            The traditional view in anthropology is that large scale mining and metallurgy only begins after the emergence of large-scale societies that have achieved social stratification and specialization of different crafts. The widespread use of metals and development of metal technology is usually seen as an important indicator of the creation of increasingly larger states and denser populations. (2) However, in the Andes, much metalwork is found within the context of societies that are "undergoing socioeconomic changes but still very much small-food producer and not quite sedentary yet." (3) New research and recent archaeological findings suggest that in reverse, mining and metallurgy may have also acted as a catalyst for the rise of complex society by supporting the rise of early leaders who have preferential access to metal goods. (4) Thus in the Andes, rather than simply being a product of a hierarchical and developed society, metallurgy may have been "meshed in the very creation of it." (5) Indeed, the metal mining industry has long been interwoven in the history of the Andes as an integral part in its development, since the earliest of indigenous culture to even today.

II. General Overview of the Andean Region

II.1 Geography of the Andean Region
            The Andes Mountains rise along the western rim of the South American continent, passing over the territories of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. The second-highest mountain range in the world, the Andes are famously rich in mineral resources and have given birth to a long tradition of metallurgy and mining that has led to one of the most important metal industries of the world. The principal metals are: Chile (molybdenum, copper, iron), Peru (copper, silver, lead, zinc, gold, vanadium, iron, arsenic), Bolivia (tin, silver, lead, tin, bismuth), Ecuador (gold), Colombia (gold, platinum, iron), Venezuela (gold, iron, aluminum). (6)

II.2 General History of the Region
            Civilization has long developed in the highlands and the adjoining coastlands of the South American Andes. The history of the Andean region mainly consists of alternations between "horizons," or periods when a single dominant culture extended influence over a broad geographical area for a relatively long period, and "intermediate periods" that are characterized by more independent and locally centered cultural development in isolated regions. (7)
            The Early Horizon (800-200 BC) was dominated by the Chavin culture; in the Early Intermediate Period (200 BC-700 AD) that followed, local cultures confined to their own river valleys flourished. Among the most important were the Paracas and the Nazca cultures that controlled the Peruvian south coast, as well as the Moche in the northern Andes. The Tiwanaku and Wari cultures formed the Middle Horizon (600-1000 AD), while the widespread, powerful Inca Empire marked the development of the Late Horizon until its end by European conquest. (8)
            Throughout the Andean region, similar geographic settings and environments often helped create similar patterns of integration and cultural development, and the entire area would eventually share a common cultural history.

III. Metallurgy in Pre-Columbian Civilizations

III.1 The Origins of Metallurgy
            The first working of native metal in the Andean region is surmised to have taken place on the Peruvian coast or in the adjacent highlands. From there it spread northwards to Colombia and Central America and southwards to Bolivia in the early Ads. The use of copper is estimated to have started from at least 2000 BC; the oldest well-dated archaeological site containing metal artifacts is Mina Perdida in coastal Peru, where "hammered foils and gilded copper are preserved in contexts dating to 1400 to 1100 B.C." (9) Copper pieces by the Wankarani culture of the highlands are dated from 1200 BC to 1000 BC. (10)
            Around 800 BC, the Chavin culture rose, opening the Early Horizon. As the first massive spread of influence of a single major culture over a very large area, the Early Horizon was accompanied by urbanization and the extensive use of gold. Nuggets of native gold were hammered into thin sheets to be cut in to small rectangles sewn to clothing or ornaments; embossing and annealing (heating the metal to a dull heat to relieve it from strains) were techniques used in early Andean metallurgy. (11) Additionally, recent research have led to theories that extensive mining and trade of cinnabar (mercury oxide), which was used as an important pigment, may have spurred the rise of early cultures in the Andes (12)
            In the central Andes, two major metallurgical traditions emerged and exchanged influences. One centered in the northern highlands and the adjacent coast, where copper, arsenic, gold and silver ores were abundant; the other center was the altiplano (an expansive, high-altitude plateau in the Andes that stretches over Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador) with its oxide and sulfide copper ores and tin as well as silver and gold. (13) In Colombia, where surface metal resources were less abundant, metallurgy arose somewhat later in 500 BC to 200 BC. In these regions metal was handled differently, most often by shaping hollow solid forms by casting them in molds by the "lost-wax technique." (14)
            Around 700 AD, basic technologies such as melting, casting, soldering, and gilding were discovered in the Chimu region on the Peruvian coast, and these techniques spread slowly to Ecuador in the north and to the Nazca in the south. During the Early Horizon, these advancements in metalworking resulted in gold-silver alloys and gold objects made in the "characteristically Andean" style by the joining of smaller metal sheets. (15) Goldsmiths in Peru, Ecuador, and southern Colombia produced "technically advanced and aesthetically sophisticated work in gold" mostly by cutting and hammering thin gold sheets. Metallic money such as copper axe blades and tokens appeared in Ecuador by 1000 AD and quickly spread throughout South America and beyond to Central America. (16) Recent discovery of an ancient iron (hematite) mine dating back to the Nazca has shown that mining of iron was also known. (17)
            Meanwhile, it has been "argued that arsenic bronze was in use in northern Peru by the 4th century AD. (18) The smelting (heating of ore to extract pure metal) of copper and tin ores and the production of bronze were discovered in the Bolivian highlands by 700 AD, spreading southward to the coast and thence carried slowly to the north. By the time of the Incan Empire (1450 AD) bronze had spread throughout areas that form modern Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
            By 1200 AD, fairly large quantities of gold, silver, copper became available in the south coast of Peru. While the methods of metal production remained largely unchanged, larger objects of more varied size and shape could be created, from ceremonial masks to large vessels for cooking and eating. (19)

III.2 Andean Philosophy on Metallurgy
            Arts and crafts in the Andes were "governed by a principle specifying that that which appears superficially to be true of an object must also be part of its essence." In other words, the external appearance of an object had to be incorporated into the very body of the object. (20) Another important influence was that "one of the primary ways Andean objects carried and conveyed meaning was through the materials and procedures used in their manufacture. Meaning inhered in the activity and performance of production, in process as well as in product. Cultural and materials attributes were realized through and were at one with appropriate technological performance." (21)
            In Andean metallurgy, smiths held certain values about metal: they sought and valued the mechanical properties of "plasticity, malleability, and toughness - not hardness, strength, and sharpness, those properties we associate with the development of metallurgy in the ancient Old World. They are properties of natural materials." Andean smiths also considered planarity (extending solid metallic mass into two-dimensional planes of sheet metal that could be assembled in various ways to construct objects) and color to be especially crucial properties in their art. (22)
            In the Andes, color was the external and amplified consequence of a change in internal state or structural order, the emblem of the object. (23) In the Andes as much as in any other culture, gold and silver were metaphors for spiritual and political power. But rather than the purity of the metal content, the Andean emphasis was on the colors of gold and silver. This emphasis on color is interpreted as deriving from Andean "structural values," where precious metals became "visual manifestation" of the permanence of divinely ordered status and power for their non-corrosive natures. (24)
            As mining-related myths that still survive in the Andes relate, gold (and to a lesser extent, silver) was believed to be the only "mature" fruit of the earth; all other metals were regarded as "underdeveloped" or as "stillborn fetuses". The appearance of gold, even only "skin-deep," was regarded as "investing external forms with a spiritual essence," or camay. (25) Thus in order to incorporate the spiritual essence of gold on their products, Andean metallurgists attempted the production of "metallic gold and silver surfaces on metal objects that were made of neither metal", while ensuring that color, "the emblem of the object," comes from within.

III.3 Development of Metallurgical Technology

III.3.1 Tumbaga
            One of the most important techniques that were developed by the Andean peoples was the smelting of tumbaga, an alloy of gold, silver, and copper. Tumbaga was processed using a technique now called "depletions gilding" or "depletion silvering." Annealing and beating the finished alloy produced a copper oxide that was removed with a saline rinse. By thus progressively eroding the copper, the gold and silver at the surface of the metal sheet would become increasingly concentrated. The silver would then be removed with a paste of iron sulfate and salt. In the end, only the highly concentrated gold remained in a granular state on the surface, which was heated and burnished to produce a shiny golden surface. (26)

III.3.2 Copper Alloys
            Copper was one of the most important components of Andean metallurgy. Several prominent anthropologists have called it the "backbone of Andean metallurgy ... the mother of all Andean metals." (27) Although copper was deemed less precious than gold or silver, its various properties made it an ideal partner in alloys of valuable metal that could enhance the qualities that Andean metal smiths sought in their work.
            In most Andean metal artifacts that appear to be made of gold or silver, copper is literally inside the objects as a constituent in an alloy. Using techniques of depletion, the Andean smiths would concentrate the gold (often up to 70-80 %) on the surface for its color, while on the inside, copper often formed up to 85 % of the metal content. (28) The copper was deliberately added to the alloy for two reason: "1) to increase the strength and toughness of the metal, and 2) to provide the mechanism by which the golden surface color of the metal could be enhanced through enrichment." (29)
            In fact, the role of copper as the "instrument of transformation" was so important that all Andean alloys except for the naturally occurring electrum (an alloy of gold and silver) were alloys of other metals with copper. (30) Laboratory reconstructions and duplicates of Andean alloys have shown that the Andeans commonly used alloys that were particularly well-suited for forging into thin sheets due to the uniform rate of hardening during plastic deformation, as well as capable of forming dense silver or gold surfaces after treatment in salty weak acids. (31)

III.3.3 Usage of Sheet Metal
            Most Andean objects are created by joining together pieces of pliable sheet metal. The Andean smiths regarded metals' pliability and plasticity as a solid to be among their most valuable properties and exploited them heavily. Metal "in the form of a sheet, hammered to uniform thickness and at times to the thinness of foil, was highly valued in and of itself." (32) Thus techniques for working sheet-metal such as hammering, gilding, annealing, and repouss? were pervasive in the Andean metallurgical tradition. (33)
            Due to this emphasis on metal's ability to be shaped as a solid, Andean smiths mostly disregarded the alternative of shaping metal as a liquid by means of casting molten metal into a mold. In contrast to the metallurgical traditions of northern Colombia, Central America and Mexico where casting techniques were highly utilized and developed, in the Andes they were set aside, as "the art of casting [...] lies in the design and preparation of the mold rather than in the pouring of molten metal." (34) Instead :

      "Flat, two dimensional sheets served also and almost universally as stock from which to build three-dimensional forms. Smiths hammered and pre-shaped sheet metal parts, then assembled and joined them mechanically or metallurgically to construct animal and human figurines and other hollow, closed forms. No sculpture was too small for this sheet assembly treatment." (LOS ANDES) (35)

III.4 Usages of Metal products
            Precious metals held great religious significance for the native cultures of the Andes. According to mythological beliefs, gold and silver were the "tears of the Sun" and the "tears of the Moon" respectively. (36) As a result, they were highly prized and used often for religious purposes - as many gold and silver figurines found with pre-Columbian human sacrificial burials clearly show. However, metals were also used to produce more utilitarian household items such as "fishhooks, tweezers, spindle whorls, and needles [...] and jewelry and [items for] personal adornment." (37) Harder tools such as those used to produce Andean masterpieces of stonework and occasional weapons, including axe-heads, chisels, and wedges, were made with bronze alloys with arsenic, nickel or tin. (38)

III.5 Comparison of Andean Metallurgy with Other Cultures
            Andean metallurgical technology developed independently in the New World. (39) Despite colonial-era assumptions that similar techniques such as lost-wax casting or common bronze alloys were derived from prehistoric Western influences, (40) Andean metallurgy has many unique characteristics that distinguish it from the metallurgy of other civilizations.
            Unlike most other metallurgical traditions where the significance of metals are due to their utility as hard weaponry and various utensils, metals in the Andes were primarily valued as adornments representative of high status and wealth. (41) As a result, although bronze was fully developed in the southern highlands of the Andes, it failed to have the massive technological impact it had elsewhere because its use in weaponry or agricultural tools was less emphasized. (42)
            Similarly, the Andean philosophy in the decorative colors of precious metals influenced the types of ore and the metal working techniques favored. In contrast to many other civilizations where gilding (covering the surface with gold foil) was often used, the Andean view that outward color must be an intrinsic property embedded in the substance itself gave birth to more elaborate surface metallurgical techniques such as tumbaga. This emphasis on the material itself also preferred the molding of metal as sheet rather than the casting of molten metals.
            The available metal ore also seems to have affected metallurgical development. In Africa, where iron deposits were widespread, the mining and smelting of iron developed as a major industry. (43) While the Andeans possessed advanced technology in the working of the more abundant softer, precious metals, they rarely utilized heavier and harder metals such as iron or steel. In lieu of harder metals, the Andeans produced bronze by alloying copper, arsenic, and tin (44)

IV. The Incan Empire
            "The Inca represent the culmination of metallurgical development in native South American history until the conquest of the Spanish in 1532." (45)
            Although both social development and metallurgical sophistication in the Andean region reached its pinnacle during the Incan Empire, the metal artifacts best known today are rather from the pre-Inca cultures. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of Incan artifacts in gold and silver were tragically lost: during the European conquest in the fifteenth century, countless works of art as well as tools were seized from the Incans and melted down, and the small number that are preserved today are mostly from clandestine diggings that are difficult to trace for further research. Thus accurate assessment of Incan metallurgy is and always will be difficult.

IV.1 Metallurgy under Inca Administration
            In the Inca Empire, metallurgy - like all other crafts - was under the control of the state. All major mines and their output were owned by the Inca ruler; although smaller mines were owned by local communities, their produce was taken as tribute to the Inca anyway. In this way "all metal products belonged to the Inca state and were distributed by the Inca himself." (46)
            However, the Incans lacked a sufficient number of local metalworkers that could meet the demands of a rapidly expanding state. (47) Thus they allocated expert smiths from regions of conquest to Cuzco, the capital of the Incan Empire. These smiths came "from centers of metal production throughout the central Andes, most notably from Chan Chan but also from Pachacamac, Huancavilca, Ica, Chincha, and presumably also from the tin-producing region of the altiplano in the south." (48) They were then installed in a special quarter to produce imperial metalwork for the Inca state. (49)
            More expertise in metallurgy and the large labor force that the Inca committed to mining and processing ores together resulted in a dramatic increase in the volume of metal produced within the empire, so that metal objects became much more widely utilized. In fact, excavation of Late Inca refuse in the Cusco area show large amounts of discarded metal objects, demonstrating that "objects that for centuries had been made from stone, wood, and other materials were suddenly made in metal." (50)

IV.2 Changes in Metallurgy
            Previous to the Inca, two separate traditions of bronze metallurgy had developed - arsenic-copper alloys in Peru and Argentina, tin-copper alloys in the Bolivian Andes. (51) However, perhaps due to the transmission and mingling of various regional metallurgies in the Inca capital, tin bronze became the one favored metal throughout the whole Empire. From the mid-fifteenth century AD, the Inca Empire implemented the use of tin bronze alloys for domestic and household metal items throughout Peru, Bolivia, northwest Argentina, and northern Chile. Not only was tin added to local copper to form tin bronze, but adding it to existent arsenic bronze alloys was discovered to improve the workability of the metal and the hardness of the finished product. (52)
            Designs and decorations of metal objects also changed over the Inca era. The surfaces of many pre-Inca artifacts were richly decorated with repousse designs and often painted or lavishly inlaid with other materials to convey sociopolitical status. In contrast, Inka designs tended to be simpler, undecorated, and much more reduced. (53) While metalwork such as human or animal figurines were often technically very complex, they usually represented their subjects "directly and realistically," choosing to forgo the "apparent iconographic and decorative complexity of earlier periods." (54)

V. Under Colonial Rule

V.1 Spanish conquest of the Andean region
            The Spanish conquests of the 16th century were spurred by the European desire for wealth, especially gold - a greed further fueled by fantastic legends of "El Dorado, the city of gold" and native chiefs that smothered themselves with gold dust. Furthermore, the conquistadores that did the initial conquering came to the New World seeking desperate opportunities for personal wealth and glory and were notoriously ruthless in their search for gold. A native in the Americas once described the Spaniards as "[people who] longed and lusted for gold. Their bodies swelled with greed, and their hunger was ravenous; they hungered like pigs for gold." (55)
            Little was different when in 1532, a small troop of 200 men led by Francisco Pizarro toppled the vast Inca Empire in "one of the most dramatic and brutal events in modern history," heralding the beginning of 300 years of colonial exploitation in the Andes. After seizing and executing the Inca ruler Atahualpa (after receiving his ransom of "a room filled to the ceiling with gold"), the Spanish went on to capture Cuzco. The imperial treasuries and temples of the Inca were plundered; most works of art were melted into ingots and shipped back to Spain.

V.2 Large-scale development of mines (16th C)
            Not realizing - or perhaps refusing to believe - that most of the "gold" that they gathered from the Inca treasuries was either actually surface-depleted copper alloy that contained minimal amounts of gold or a wealth accumulated over many generations, the Spanish also sought a continuous source that would produce even more: the mines. So in every province the Spaniards entered, they demanded to know the location of the mines. (56) Often the natives withheld the information as a means of resistance - in several regions of the Andes there are records of "tales of a rich gold mine that used to be worked, so it is said, for the Inca, and the Indians have buried it so that no one can work it." (57)
            Nevertheless, mines were found, usually either by taking over small-scale indigenous operations or by following Inca legends. (58) Among them were the silver mines of Porco and the gold mines of Chayanta and the mercury mines of Huancavelica in the southern highlands of the Andes. (59) But in 1545 was discovered what would become the most important source of wealth in Spanish America - the silver mines of Potosi, called "Cerro Rico" (the "Rich Mountain"). (60)
            Though gold was the initial lure for the Europeans in the Andes, its supply was limited and was too quickly exhausted. (Even yet, it is estimated that some 16 million kilograms of gold entered the Spanish port of Seville between 1503 and 1650.) (61) Rather, it was silver that would eventually form the core of the "plunder economy" of Spanish colonial America. (62) Although other metal deposits such as copper, tin, and lead were also in abundance in the Andes, they were rarely developed due to the colonial empire's preoccupation with the more valuable silver and gold. Moreover, in the case of copper in Chile, there were issues of security: copper could be wielded into cannon for artillery, and "the contraband traffic which was rampant in South America and virtually untouched by Spanish controls would have provided alternative outlets for ¡®excess¡¯ copper and might explain the reluctance of Crown officials to allow copper to accumulate." (63)

V.2.1 Traditional methods of mining, 1532-1560s
            Thousands of indigenous workers - initially migrants from other areas, then large numbers of unskilled locals - toiled in the mines of the Andes. Partly because the Europeans held only the claims to the mines and relied on the miners of the Andean peoples for the actual extraction and processing of the ores, (64) traditional Andean methods of production were used predominantly in the mines. Another reason was the harsh environment: at Potosi, located on a wind-swept mountain plateau 4000 m above sea level, Spanish smelting techniques of using a bellows in Castilian-style stone furnaces did not work; (65) indigenous methods of channeling the Andean wind in clay furnaces had to be adopted instead. (66)
            The deep-shaft mines in the Andes tunneled miles under the earth, which miners climbed down on rickety ladders of wood to extract silver-laden ore. The surface deposits of nearly pure silver could be easily excavated by masses of untrained laborers, who then sold them to skilled miners who then "purified by melting the silver free of the embedded ore in a wind-heated furnace called a huaryna, fueled by llama dung" (67) according to traditional techniques. After receiving some share of the metal as payment, the rest was sent to meet tribute quotas assigned to the community.
            The mines of the Andes, especially those of Potosi, were vastly successful. They became "quasi-industrial enterprises" that churned out approximately 180,000 pesos of silver during the fifteen years from 1545-1560, and the precious metals from the area supported the entire Spanish Empire and became the greatest focus of its colonial enterprise. (68)

V.2.2 Crisis of the 1560s
            Unfortunately, the silver mining boom begun since the 1530s began to wane after the mid-sixteenth century. The richest and the most easily accessible deposits of silver had been depleted, while periodic labor shortages from the indigenous population also hindered silver production. (69) Under Francisco de Toledo, the Viceroy of Peru, a set of reforms were undertaken to address these needs and revive the silver production in the Andes.

V.2.3 The Amalgamation Process and the Mita
            The process of amalgamation, which uses mercury to capture metal and separate it from rock, had already been introduced into Latin America by Bartolome Medina in 1557. (70). This new technology would allow the more efficient extraction of metals. However, adapting it required the construction of large and expensive refineries, the ingenios, which housed grinding mills for pulverizing ore. (71) Because in higher altitudes, harnessing water power is more cost-effective than using animals, a "system of man-made lakes to store water year-round, independent of seasonal rains" was created as a constant source of power for the mills. Most importantly, Viceroy Toledo subsidized the development of the quicksilver mine at nearby Huancavelica to supply the necessary mercury. (72)
            Along with these technological implementations, Toledo reorganized a system of forced indigenous labor, the mita: one-seventh of the native population would be forced to migrate and toil in the mines of Peru for a year every 7 years. (73) (Due to the brutal work, accidents, lung disease and the toxic mercury fumes, many mitayo laborers did not survive the yearlong shift.)
            As a result of the Toledan reforms, miners could use amalgamation to recover leftover silver from the slag accumulated over the past thirty years as well as from newly excavated ore. (74) Potosi, Porco and Huancavelica especially saw a mining ¡°heyday¡± that lasted from 1590s to the 1620s - the peak of silver production in the Andes. Between 1545 and 1600, Potosi had produced nearly all of the silver generated by the Viceroyalty of Peru.

V.2.4 Decline of the mining industry
            For the earlier half of the seventeenth century, the rise in production "attributable to mercury amalgamation" lasted until the 1640s in the Andes. (75) Newly discovered large mines such as Oruro (gold) and Castrovirreyna (silver) had their own decades of prosperity around 1600-1650. But from 1640 to 1700, metal production fell continuously as deposits became depleted: the Potosi yields, which had accounted for over 68 % of Peru's total silver output even in its decline, had diminished by 70 %, and the produce of other mines such as Cailloma, Cerro de Pasco, Chucuito, Carangas, La Paz, failed to meet previous standards. (76)
            To make matters worse, between 1687and 1730, a series of natural disasters such as earthquakes and epidemics struck throughout the Andes and devastated the colonial economy, including the mining system. (77) The mines also suffered from severe shortages of indigenous mita laborers because of the extremely high death toll, mismanagement and abuse, and the growing number of those who fled the provinces to escape the "infamous draft." (78)

V.2.5 Bourbon Reforms and Revival
            The succession of the Spanish throne by the French Bourbon dynasty (Phillip V, 1701-1746) was followed by the first efforts to reorganize and rebuild the Spanish colonial empire and to exploit the wealth of the Americas more efficiently. Measures were introduced to prevent contraband of precious metals. (79) A new Viceroyalty of New Grenada (1717) was established in what is now Colombia today, partly to keep better control of the gold produced from the local mines of Antioquia, Barbacoas, Popayan, Cuenca, Zaruma, and Loja. In 1776, the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata was created, detaching the silver-rich Upper Peru region from the older Viceroyalty of Peru and shifting its trade to Buenos Aires to "prevent silver from escaping untaxed through modern Argentina." (80)
            The Spanish also promoted "schemes for increasing the output of American mines" by ordaining new mines and applying scientific knowledge to production. (81) With the decline of Potosi, interest in the older, neglected mines of the Incas resurfaced and a search began for new mines. (82) The discovery of new silver mines such as Hualgayoc and methods of more efficient exploitation of older deposits led to a recovery of the silver industry by the 1760s.

V.3 Metalwork in the colonies
            Vast loads of precious metals mined from the deep-shaft mines of the Andes were shipped to Europe :
            "[at the Portobello Fair, the authorized port for trade between the western coast of South America and Spain] the land is covered with droves of mules from Panama, each drove consisting of above a hundred, loaded with chests of gold and silver, on account of the merchants of Peru." Pg 520 (83)
            Although most of the Andean metal produce was supplied to the motherland, some portions were used by people in the colonies themselves. For example, copper produced in the mines of Chile was "used throughout the western dominions of Spain in the form of church bells, religious articles, and household utensils [...] and the artillery for the defense of the colonies." (84) Interestingly, cooking vessels of the Spanish New World were dominated by Native American-styled metal vessels. While most Spanish used glazed ceramic ware before the 16th century, metal vessels such as "copper and bronze braziers, peroles (half-sphere shaped vessels for frying), sartenes (frying pans), ollas (pots)¡± were the norm in the Andes. Easier access to and availability of metals, as well as influences from indigenous Andean metallurgical tradition, most likely contributed to the common use of metal pots and vessels in colonial households in the Andean region. (85)
            The influence of the highly opulent colonial Catholic Church and a Creole elite that amassed immense wealth from the silver mines also contributed to a development of decorative metalwork in the Andes around the mid-sixteenth century. (Potosi, as the leading mining center, enjoyed so much extravagance and luxury that it was called the "Babylon of Peru.") (86) Gold and silver artwork such as monstrances were made to decorate the altars of churches and the houses of the elite, and exchanged influence from Spanish and Italian artisans. (87) The high abundancy of silver and its preference by the elite, as well as underlying traditional indigenous techniques of working metal created very beautiful silverwork. A uniquely Andean style dubbed "Andean Baroque" developped, featuring ornate decorations with clearly indigenous motifs such as native fauna and flora or feather headdresses-marking a "synthesis" and "cross-pollination" between Western and indigenous practices in Andean silversmithing. (88)

VI. Independence (1810-1825)
            The movements for colonial independence in South America arose in the early 1800s, led by the Creole elite - merchants, landowners, and professionals of European descent that had been long discontent with administrative and trading policies that favored Spanish-born peninsulares over those born in America. Ultimately very little changed for the exploited classes since the Creoles were determined to gain political independence without losing their own privileges. (89) The indigenous, black, mestizo, mulatto and slave populations rarely became involved in or benefited from the end of Spanish rule.

VI.1 Consequences of the Wars of Independence
            During the South American Wars of Independence, which spanned between 1810 and 1825, production in Andean mines was entirely suspended and suffered tremendous economic devastation and neglect. (99) Resuming operations was a difficult and costly business because many mine shafts had flooded or collapsed; much of the expensive machinery for processing the metal ore was heavily damaged. In Potosi, The "fifteen-year lack of adequate maintenance for the sophisticated system of lakes that provided the hydraulic energy for grinding ores left the refining works paralyzed." (100) Moreover, with the disappearance of Spanish subsidies, mercury prices skyrocketed, its supply was irregular, and the mining industry had lost its source of indigenous forced labor. Because Potosi and its silver was so important, it was occupied three separate times during the war, and the ensuing damage of government agencies and royal banks also left the mining industry deprived of capital and credit support. The result was that mining production dropped nearly 90% in 1810-1819. (101)

VI.2 Stagnation of the Mining Economy, 1820-1870
            The post-colonial era of Latin America between 1820 and 1870 was one of social and economic stagnation. (102) There was minimal economic growth because the severe lack of capital and adequate infrastructure for development in the newly formed republics. Although the ruined mines desperately "needed major injections of capital, [...] there were only a handful of banks in Latin America before 1850" that could provide the investment necessary for reviving the industry. (103) Due to the decline of prominent mines and limited funds, mining became concentrated at only a few areas: Cerro de Pasco and Quiulacocha saw brief, dramatic rises in production after steam engines were introduced to drain the shafts, but both were soon exhausted with a lack of more substantial investments and maintenance. (104)
            Chile and Peru were exceptions. In the 1840s-1860s, Peru saw a "guano boom",/i> that increased Peruvian export earnings exponentially, but the government¡¯s preoccupation with it resulted in the increased neglect of the Andean silver industry. (105) In contrast, the previously overlooked Chilean copper industry had a growth spurt after independence. "In London a veritable fever seized the stock exchange as investors rushed to fill the void they imagined was left by the exodus of Spanish commerce and to instill British know-how and capital into the faltering mining enterprises." (106) While production prices dropped after the wars of independence, both the international price of copper and the Chilean output doubled in the 1820-1830s as copper became an increasingly wanted commodity in industrializing European nations. (Copper, an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, was used in increasing amounts since the Industrial Revolution for electric wires in circuits, machinery, etc.) Chile would become the world¡¯s main producer and exporter of copper, producing 2 million tons between 1820 and 1900. (107)

VII. Neo-Colonialism, 1870-1930

VII.1 Foreign Investment
            The period from the 1870s to the 1930s brought Latin America a newfound influx of foreign investment as Western European countries became an "overwhelming source of capital to be invested across national boundaries." (108) Britain was the leading investor in Latin America (109), especially in the mining industry - until the advent of World War I in 1914 brought European investments to a standstill. The United States too, began investing in Latin America from the 1890s (though with more emphasis on the Caribbean and Mexico). Americans soon had significant mining investments in Chile and Peru, and the influence of the United States grew dominant. (110) As a consequence, the majority of mining businesses in the Andean highlands came under foreign ownership.

VII.2 The Great Export Boom, 1870-1930
            The massive input of foreign capital triggered the "economical transformation" of Latin America, characterized by the "great export boom" : over half a century of rapid, sustained economic growth with exponential growths in exports. (111) The Andean mining industry, revitalized from new capital, played a key role in many countries. Chilean production of copper, iron, and nitrates was worth hundreds or millions of dollars by 1929. Bolivia, where mines began tin and zinc production in the 1860s, soon became one of the world¡¯s leading producers and exporters of tin. Peru also started mining development and metal exports in copper and expanded into iron, zinc, and lead. (112)
            The great export boom culminated in the enrichment of Latin America, greater urbanization, and the growth and "mestizo-ization" of the middle class. (113) However, the great majority of the benefit went to the rich Creole elite and foreign investors, who heavily exploited the lower populations to maximize export profits. Mining especially, due to its capital-intensive nature, became a massive, industrialized operation dominated by powerful (usually foreign) companies that employed "natives" whose rights and welfare were left unprotected. Foreign mining corporations such as the US-owned Cerro de Pasco Copper Corporation in Peru, often became "20th century versions of Potosi," and contributed to severe polarization within Latin American societies. (114) In fact, "despite many transformations, neither Latin America's subordinate relationship to European countries nor its basic social hierarchy - created by colonization - had changed" - hence the term "neo-colonialism." (115)

VIII. Modern to Today
            The year 1929 brought the Great Depression, which in Latin America caused foreign export-dependent economies to disintegrate. This spurred the overturning of the neo-colonial social, political and economic systems, as Nationalism and Populism took over with the support of widespread anti-European and anti-American sentiment that had accumulated over the decades. (116) Over the decades, the mining industry had become an export sector for "non-ferrous metals needed by industrialized countries rather than by the non-industrialized" domestic economies of the Andes, supporting the rest of the economy with export revenue. (117) However, serious attempts to develop an industrialized economy - instead of simply one dependent on overseas export of raw materials - demanded the growth of national steel and iron industries in the larger and wealthier Latin American nations. In the 1950s, large steel mills sprang up on the banks of Venezuela's Orinoco River. (118)
            Meanwhile, the desire for genuine "economic independence" as well as socialist and nationalist concern for the welfare of the often-abused working class led to increased government intervention in foreign mining corporations - and ultimately in some countries, nationalization of the mining industry. Latin American governments, most notably Chile under Salvador Allende, instigated nationwide reforms to bring about equitable development of the economy. (119) In 1971, Chile proclaimed the "Chileanisation" of its copper mining industry. (The day it was proclaimed was widely celebrated as the "Day of National Dignity.") (120) In 1975, Venezuela nationalized its previously US-owned steel industry. (121) Peru, too, nationalized its largest copper mining corporation, Cerro de Pasco, in the 1970s. (122)
            Today, mining of metal resources (as well as natural gas, coal, oil and others) still composes an important part of the economies of Latin American countries in the Andes Mountains, contributing especially to the export sector. Most countries of the Andes are leading international producers of metal ore and refined metals, especially with the development and growth of previously-unexploited metal industries such as zinc, tungsten, and bismuth industries in Bolivia and Venezuela¡¯s aluminum industry in the 1980s. (123) Meanwhile, Chile's CODELCO today mainly produces refined copper cathodes in contrast to previous exports of "blister" copper (124); the output of refined metals in general has increased in the 1980-1990s.

IX. Conclusion
            Throughout the several millennia of human civilization in the Andes Mountains, metallurgy and mining has always been closely interwoven with culture and life. The ancient civilizations of pre-Colombian America were able to develop unique metallurgical traditions based on advanced knowledge of alloys and plentiful deposits of precious metals. An emphasis of the symbolic and decorative properties of metal discouraged the development of harder metals such as iron in the ancient Andes. Although centuries of economic subjugation and exploitation has shadowed the development of Andean metalwork and mining, the rich mineral wealth of the Andes has always remained an integral part of contemporary Latin America, contributing to the creation of a uniquely Andean cultural heritage and shaping the course of Andean history.


1.      Encyclopaedia Britannica: ¡°Metallurgy¡±
2.      Klein 2003
3.      Wikipedia: ¡°Metallurgy in Pre-Columbian America¡±
4.      Vaughn 2007
5.      Wikipedia: ¡°Metallurgy in Pre-Columbian America¡±
6.      Encyclopaedia Britannica: ¡°Andes¡±
7.      Kleiner 2009
8.      ibid.
9.      Abbott 2003
10.      Klein 2003 p.11
11.      Lechtman 2003 p.116
12.      Cooke 2009
13.      Bruhns 1994 p.174
14.      Hosler 1994 p.17
15.      Lechtman 2003 p.116
16.      Kleiner 2009
17.      Vaughn 2007
18.      Hosler 1994 p.171
19.      Forbes 1964
20.      Keller 1996 p.164
21.      Lechtman 2003 p.117
22.      Lechtman 2003 p.116
23.      Keller 1996 p.164
24.      Bawden 1996 p.96
25.      Thorton 1998 p.372
26.      Benson 1979
27.      Thorton 1998 p.372
28.      Burger 2007 p.319
29.      ibid.
30.      ibid. p.318
31.      ibid.
32.      Gordon 2007
33.      Lechtman 2003 p.116
34.      Abbott 2003
35.      Lechtman 2003 p.116
36.      ibid.
37.      Cooke 2009
38.      Bulmer-Thomas 2006 p.86
39.      ibid.
40.      Forbes 1964 p.14
41.      Encyclopaedia Britannica 1823 ed
42.      Wikipedia: "Metallurgy in Pre-Colombian America"
43.      Klein 2003 p.9
44.      Bulmer-Thomas 2006 p.52
45.      Wright 2006 p.111
46.      Cooke 2009
47.      Bulmer-Thomas 2006 p.87
48.      Carr 1995 p.429
49.      Burger 2007 pp.319-320
50.      Early 1998 p.27
51.      Burger 2007 pp.319-320
52.      ibid.
53.      Cooke 2009
54.      Carr 1995 p.429
55.      ibid.
56.      Duiker 2008 p.407
57.      Spalding 1984 p.129
58.      ibid.
59.      Bulmer-Thomas 2006
60.      Przeworski 1980 p.66
61.      Dunnell
62.      Spalding 1984 pp.129-130
63.      Duiker 2008
64.      Chasteen 2001
65.      Przeworski 1980
66.      Spalding 1984 p.130
67.      Chasteen 2001 p.64
68.      Abbott 2003
69.      Spalding 1984 p.130
70.      Early 1998
71.      Andrien 2001 p.52
72.      Pray
73.      Andrien 2001
74.      Bulmer-Thomas 2006
75.      ibid. p.324
76.      Andrien 2001
77.      Bulmer-Thomas 2006
78.      Early 1998 p.53
79.      Andrien 2001 p.237, 76
80.      ibid.
81.      Early 1998
82.      Chasteen 2001
83.      Early 1998 p.63
84.      Spalding 1984 p.1760
85.      Kagan 2006 p.520
86.      Przeworski 1980 p.70
87.      Jamieson 2000
88.      Mart?n 2006 p.182
89.      Box 2007 p.594
90.      Mart?n 2006 p.180
91.      Kagan 2006 p.675
92.      Harvard University 1833 p.223
93.      Bulmer-Thomas 2006 p.350
94.      ibid.
95.      Early 1998 p.89
96.      Chasteen 2001 p.122
97.      Bulmer-Thomas 2006 p.355
98.      Chasteen 2001
99.      Przeworski 1980 p.77
100.      ibid.
101.      Early 1998
102.      ibid.
103.      Chasteen 2001
104.      Bulmer-Thomas 2006
105.      Chasteen 2001
106.      ibid.
107.      ibid.
108.      Early 1998
109.      Chasteen 2001
110.      Early 1998
111.      Country Studies US: ¡°Venezuela-INDUSTRY¡±
112.      Country Studies US: ¡°Peru-Mining and Oil¡±
113.      Chasteen 2001
114.      ibid.
115.      ibid.
116.      ibid.
117.      Country Studies US: ¡°Peru-Mining and Oil¡±
118.      Country Studies US: ¡°Venezuela-INDUSTRY¡±
119.      see also Suh 2006
120.      Wikipedia: ¡°Chilean Nationalization of Copper¡±; Chasteen 2001
121.      Country Studies US: ¡°Venezuela-INDUSTRY¡±
122.      Country Studies US: ¡°Peru-Mining and Oil¡±
123.      Country Studies US: ¡°Bolivia-MINING¡±; ¡°Venezuela-INDUSTRY¡±
124.      CODELCO-Chile: ¡°History of the Corporation¡±


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