22 February 2017

Ice-core evidence of earliest extensive copper metallurgy in the Andes 2700 years ago

Although copper (Cu) was essential for the wealth of pre- and post-colonial societies in the Andes, the onset of extensive Cu metallurgy in South America is still debated. Based on a 6500 year ice-core Cu record from Illimani glacier in Bolivia we provide the first complete history of large-scale Cu smelting activities in South America. Earliest anthropogenic Cu pollution was found during the Early Horizon period ~700-50 BC. We attribute the onset of intensified Cu smelting in South America to the activities of the central Andean Chiripa and Chavin cultures ~2700 years ago. This study provides for the first time substantial evidence for extensive Cu metallurgy already during these early cultures.
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Contact
Prof. Dr. Margit Schwikowski, Head of the Analytical Chemistry Research Group, Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 56 310 41 10, e-mail: margit.schwikowski@psi.ch


Dr. Anja Eichler, Analytical Chemistry Research Group, Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 56 310 20 77, e-mail: anja.eichler@psi.ch
Original Publication
Ice-core evidence of earliest extensive copper metallurgy in the Andes 2700 years ago
A. Eichler, G. Gramlich, T. Kellerhals, L. Tobler , Th. Rehren & M. Schwikowski
Scientific Reports 7 , Article number: 41855 (2017); Published online 31 January 2017;
DOI: 10.1038/srep41855