CRUZ Pablo Jose
congresos y reuniones científicas
The Devils Metal: Mining and Metallurgy in the southern Andes (Potosí, Bolivia)
Conferencia; Public seminar at the Institute of Biogeochimistry and Pollution Dynamics ETH Zurich; 2015
Institute of Biogeochimistry and Pollution Dynamics ETH Zurich
Few places in the world have the mythic draw of Potosi. This silver mine, the largest in the world, has been the site of multiple marked social transformations from pre-Hispanic times to today. From the Spanish "discovery" of the mines of the Cerro Rico in 1545, Potosi has had a direct impact on world economics and politics. Its riches facilitated the development of world powers like Spain, France and England, favored the capitalization that preceded the Industrial Revolution, and bought about the shift from gold to silver in international monetary systems. Potosi´s presence on a 16th century Chinese map, written as Pei-tu-shi, testifies to its important role in international commerce and its pioneering role in the genesis of the world economy. In this presentation we focus on Potosi. Through an analysis of colonial documents and archaeological data, we explore pre-Hispanic and colonial mining and metallurgy in the Southern Andes; its technology, social aspects, as well as its religious aspects linked to indigenous mountain cults. In effect, metal production in the Andes retains, today as it did in the past, multiple meanings that go beyond those of markets and values. Mining centers, like Potosi, mark the destiny of Andean peoples.