Thomas Stöllner/Markus Reindel:
Gold extraction in the area of Palpa-Nasca before the Spaniards?
Report on a one-week prospecting expedition on the southern coast of Peru
In contrast to the Old World, the oldest pre-Colombian metallurgy in South America concentrated on gold, and only much later on copper and bronze. The oldest finds of gold were made on the Altiplano, in the Peruvian highlands near Waywaka north of Cuzco 2,000 to 1,000 years BC A regular use of metals, however, is recorded only since the first millennium with the northern Peruvian Chavín culture. Later on as well, especially northern Peru along with Colombia and Ecuador were among the most important South American centres for pre-Colombian gold extraction, whereas in the south, copper metallurgy obviously dominated more strongly (in the border areas of Peru, Chile and Bolivia). Not only the gold riches of the Inca already legendary at the time of the Spanish conquests provide information about this, but also the very rich finds from the pre-Inca period.
The gold-bearing deposits around the Palpa Valley could prove to be of particular significance for understanding the economic and social structure of pre-Colombian gold extraction. The present article outlines the intermediate results of a first prospecting expedition in the Palpa region that was carried out in March 2006.