Foreigners from far-off islands: long-distance exchange between western Mesoamerica and coastal South America (600–1200 ce )

A globalization analysis

Authored by: Alexander Geurds

The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Globalization

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415841306
eBook ISBN: 9781315449005
Adobe ISBN:


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For the Americas, it is generally agreed that metallurgy developed very early on in South America, as early as the middle part of the second millennium bce in the Peruvian highlands (Aldenderfer et al. 2008; Lechtman 2014). In addition to gold, copper and copper alloys were among the primary foci for metalsmiths in parts of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and northwestern Argentina. Later on, around 500 bce another core area of metalworking emerged in Colombia, eventually including Central America around 200 bce (Bray 1984), and influencing eastern Mesoamerica, mainly the Maya area, subsequently (Bray 1996). With techniques initially consisting of the lost-wax method as well as cold hammering, over the course of the following centuries these technologies developed rapidly in South America, enabling ever more specialization in both procurement of raw materials and fashioning of objects. Eventually, it is generally agreed, this body of knowledge or perhaps more precisely, persons who embodied this knowledge, found their way to other parts of the American continent. Most likely overland to Central America and the Maya region, and to western Mesoamerica, probably by means of a maritime trading route (Figure 3.4.1).

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