7206 - An archaeometallurgical study of Prehispanic metal objects from the fishermen's graves from Coastal Atacama Desert (Northern Chile)

Benoît Mille (C2RMF / UMR 7055, France) Valentina Figueroa (Université de Paris 1, France) Mechtild Freudenberg (Schleswig-Holsteinische Museum, Germany) During the Late Intermediate and the Inka Periods in the coast of the Atacama Desert, a significant increase in the use of metals is to be observed. Fishermen’s graves in coastal cemeteries exemplifie this phenomenon, with the presence of a great number of maritime metal objects (fishhooks and harpoons), sometimes associated with ornaments or prestige artifacts (disks, bells, tweezers, pendants, metal fists, wrist guards). The set of metal objects here under study comes from the excavations by Otto Aichel in 1927 and 1928 of burial contexts from the coast of Antofagasta, now kept in the Schleswig-Holsteinische Museum (Germany). We analyzed these artifacts in the frame of the European project CHARISMA (transnational access FIXLAB), by the combination of PIXE and RBS using the AGLAE facility from the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France. We were then able to discuss the metal provenance of the Aichel metallic artifacts, and to compare with results from studies achieved on materials from on-course projects in Northern Chile (Fondecyt n°1080666, Anillos Act-96 and Valentina Figueroa PhD). Although we remarked the domination of bronze (Cu-Sn), we also observed an important variability of metals and alloys (Cu, Ag-Cu, Cu-Sb, Cu-Sn-Pb, Cu-As-Ni, Cu-As-Fe). The metal composition from the Aichel collection is therefore far from homogeneous, and illustrates the opposition between a local tradition represented by the maritime objects made of unalloyed copper and bronze (fishhooks and harpoons), and an exogenous tradition manifested by a very important increase of exotic metals coming from long-distance exchanges, like San Pedro de Atacama-Tiawanaku (Cu-As-Ni) and N-W Argentina (High-tin bronzes, Cu-Sn-Pb, Cu-As-Fe, Cu-Sb).

Keywords: Copper, Metal composition, Atacama, Late intermediate period, Inka period

Author: Mille, Benoit (C2RMF, France / Frankreich)
Co-Author: Valentina Figueroa (Université de Paris 1) ; Mechtild Freudenberg (Schleswig-Holsteinische Museum, Germany)


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