vaughn - Feature Archaeotechnology Hematite Mining in the...

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JOM • December 2007 16 Archaeotechnology Feature Over the last 40 years, there has been a discernible increase in the number of scholars who have focused their research on early industrial organizations, a Feld of study that has come to be known as Archaeotechnology. Archaeologists have conducted Feldwork geared to the study of ancient technologies in a cultural context and have drawn on the laboratory analyses developed by materials scientists as one portion of their interpretive program. Papers for this department are solicited and/or reviewed by Michael Notis, a professor and director of the Archaeometallurgy Laboratory (www.Lehigh.edu/~inarcmet) at Lehigh University. Mina Primavera, a hematite (±e 2 O 3 ) mine located in southern Peru, was ex- ploited beginning approximately 2,000 years ago by two Andean civilizations, the Nasca and Wari. Despite the impor- tance of hematite in the material cul- ture of the ancient Americas, few he- matite mines have been reported in the New World literature and none have been reported for the Central Andes. An estimated 3,710 tonnes of hematite were extracted from the mine for over 1,400 years at an average rate of 2.65 tonnes per year, suggesting regular and extensive mining prior to Spanish con- quest. The hematite was likely used as a pigment for painting pottery, and the mine demonstrates that iron ores were extracted extensively at an early date in the Americas. INTRODUCTION Prehistoric mining of iron-contain- ing materials is commonly thought to be exclusive to the Old World. Indeed, evidence for the mining of iron ores used to produce iron artifacts is found in Anatolia by 1,000 B . C . 1 and in south- ern Africa by A . D .1 . 2 However, oxides and hydroxides of iron such as hematite (Fe 2 O 3 ),limonite(FeO(OH)),magnetite (Fe 3 O 4 ), and goethite (FeOOH)—col- lectively referred to as ochres—were mined much earlier , possibly as early as 60,000, 3 40,000, 2 and certainly by 28,000 years ago. 4 Within the last few millennia, ochre mining was fairly extensive in the Old World. For example, L.H. Robbins et Hematite Mining in the Ancient Americas: Mina Primavera, A 2,000 Year Old Peruvian Mine Kevin J. Vaughn, Moises Linares Grados, Jelmer W. Eerkens, and Matthew J. Edwards al. report a series of specular hema- tite (specularite) mines in Botswana varying in size and dating to approxi- mately A . D . 800–1000. 3 Used as a body pigment, specularite was extracted by spalling rock through heating and then using hammerstones and stone wedges to further break up the iron ore. The authors estimate that 500 and 1,000 tonnes of specularite were removed from two of the largest mining com- plexes called Big Mine and Greenstone Mine, respectively. While iron was never smelted in the ancient New World, 5 indigenous peo- ple of North and South America made extensive use of ochres as decorative pigments, preservatives, and abrasives for polishing bone and ivory.
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2011 for the course ANTH 201 taught by Professor Vaughn during the Fall '10 term at Purdue University-West Lafayette.

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vaughn - Feature Archaeotechnology Hematite Mining in the...

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