XClose

Institute of Archaeology

Home
Menu

María Teresa Plaza

María Teresa Plaza

Gold and silver technology in San Pedro de Atacama, Northern Chile, during the Middle Period (AD 400-900)

 

Email: maria.plaza.12@ucl.ac.uk
Section: Archaeological Sciences

Supervisors:

Profile

Gold and silver technology in San Pedro de Atacama, Northern Chile, during the Middle Period (AD 400-900)

During the Middle Horizon (AD 400-1000), under the Tiwanaku influence, people from San Pedro de Atacama (SPA) underwent a series of economic, political and social changes that are reflected in the archaeological record. Amongst these changes, the presence of some individuals buried with important amounts of gold and silver artefacts stands out, especially considering the scarce use of this metal in previous periods. Based on the absence of metallurgical production evidence, it is suggested that these gold objects were brought from elsewhere, most probably from the Bolivian altiplano.

The chief aim of this project is to characterise the sources and gold technology at SPA with the view to addressing the following key question: to what extent do the gold artefacts at SPA inform about the interplay between indigenous traditions and the Tiwanaku influence?

To address this question, some others will need to be considered: What are the functional categories and style of these artefacts? How many gold and silver sources are represented, and what are the possible geological sources? What technological traditions can be documented in their manufacturing traits? What is the relationship between the gold and silver artefacts from SPA and those from other Tiwanaku sites? How do gold objects relate to the other raw materials and artefact types from the graves? What kind of social and political organisation can be inferred from the production and distribution of gold?

This research is focused on the technological study of the gold and silver objects from SPA using invasive and non-invasive analytical techniques such as pXRF, SEM-EDS, OM, PIXE, LA-ICP-MS and metallography. These techniques are used to determine the alloy compositions, trace elements and manufacturing techniques. In addition, this approach is complemented with the stylistic analysis of the objects and the contextual analysis of the burials.

Funding

Conicyt Becas Chile

Education

BA (Honours) in Archaeology, University of Chile, 2009

MSc in Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Material, UCL, 2013

    Publications

    Plaza, M.T. and M. Martinón-Torres. 2015. Metallurgical Traditions Under Inka Rule: A technological study of metals and ceramics from the Aconcagua Valley in Central Chile. Journal of Archaeological Science N°54:86-98.

    Plaza, M.T. 2013. Metallurgical Traditions Under Inka Rule: A technological study of metals and ceramics from the Aconcagua Valley in Central Chile. Unpublished MSc Dissertation, University College London. London.

    Plaza, M.T. 2012. Evaluación de las evidencias metalúrgicas del sitio Cerro La Cruz, Catemu, Región de Valparaíso. Proceedings of the XVIII Chilean National Congress of Archaeology. Valparaíso. Sociedad Chilena de Arqueología.

    Plaza, M.T. 2010. Estudio sobre la metalurgia Incaica en Chile Central durante el Periodo Tardío. Unpublished BA Dissertation, Universidad de Chile. Santiago.

    Plaza, M.T. 2008. El uso de metales en el sitio Incaico Cerro La Cruz, Chile Central. Unpublished Internship Report, Universidad de Chile. Santiago.

    E. Latorre, M.T. Plaza, R. Riveros. 2007. El caso de la colección Lodwig: Caracterización de piezas metálicas prehispanas del litoral de Caldera (III región, Chile). Werkén. Nº 11. Santiago

    Conference papers

    Plaza, M.T., M. Martinón-Torres and V. Figueroa-Larre. 2015. Gold and silver for the Lords. Precious Metalwork in San Pedro de Atacama during the Middle Period (AD 400-900), Northern Chile. Poster presented in Archaeometallurgy in Europe, Madrid. "Winner of the Historical Metallurgy Society student poster award" and The Andean Technology Conference, London.

    Campbell, R. and M.T. Plaza. 2015. Nuevos Antecedentes para la tradición de trabajo de metales El Vergel. Presentation in the XX National Conference of Chilean Archaeology, Concepción.

    Plaza, M.T. and M. Martinón-Torres. 2015. Tradiciones Metalúrgicas en la frontera del Tawantinsuyu: Estudio tecnológico de piezas de metal y refractarios del Periodo Tardío en valle del Aconcagua (Chile Central). Presentation in the XX National Conference of Chilean Archaeology, Concepción.

    Plaza, M.T., M. Martinón-Torres and V. Figueroa-Larre. 2015. Oro De Los Señores: Tecnología del oro en San Pedro de Atacama durante el Periodo Medio (Norte Grande). Poster presented in the XX National Conference of Chilean Archaeology, Concepción.

    Plaza, M.T. and M. Martinón-Torres. 2014. Metallurgical Traditions Under Inka Rule. Presentation in the South American Archaeology Seminar, London.

    Plaza, M.T. and M. Martinón-Torres. 2014. Metallurgical Traditions Under Inka Rule. Poster presented in International Symposium on Archaeometry, Los Angeles. Winner of the "Martin J. Aitken student poster award".

    Plaza, M.T. 2009. Evaluación de las evidencias metalúrgicas del sitio Cerro La Cruz, Catemu, Región de Valparaíso. Poster presented in the XVIII National Conference of Chilean Archaeology, Valparaíso.