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Goldsmithing traditions and innovations in colonial Colombia: an analytical study of crucibles from Santa Cruz de Mompox

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Martinón-Torres, M  ORCID logo
Lobo Guerrero Arenas, J 
Veronesi, U 
White, H 


© 2019, © Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology 2019. SUMMARY: The 16th-century Spanish conquest of Colombia brought new technologies that altered and interacted with native metalworking traditions. In the colonial village of Santa Cruz de Mompox, renowned because of its goldsmithing tradition, indigenous groups and Spaniards experienced momentous encounters of individuals, metallurgical technologies and knowledge. However, little is known concerning colonial metallurgy, its continuities and changes with regards to the pre-Columbian period. Here we present the analytical characterization of five crucibles recovered in Mompox, together with discussion of relevant archival evidence. We find evidence for the local manufacture of crucibles as well as for the melting of unrefined gold dust, tumbaga (gold-copper-silver alloys) and silver. These metallurgical practices illustrate some likely illegal activities, continuities with pre-Columbian traditions in the use of tumbagas, and the Spanish-led introduction of silver in northern Colombia. It is argued that metallurgical remains can be informative of wider social and economic negotiations that engaged indigenous peoples, mestizos and Spaniards, which are critical to understand the configuration of the colonial reality.



4301 Archaeology, 4303 Historical Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology

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Post-Medieval Archaeology

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Informa UK Limited