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Metals and Metallurgy in the Americas
The technical quality and aesthetic beauty of the Pre-Columbian metalwork of Central and South have long fascinated scholars and the public alike. The interest in this craft was heightened by the blatantly symbolic role of metals in many indigenous societies together with the unparalleled craftsmanship revealed by pioneer technical studies of some of these artefacts. In fact, some archaeometallurgical publications on Pre-Columbian metalwork produced during the 1970's and 1980's remains as classics in America and beyond. In spite of these early works, the existing picture of Pre-Columbian metallurgy in America remains rather generalising and, as such, archaeologically simplistic. Contextualised, archaeologically-driven studies still constitute museums being uncontextualised, our understanding of spatial and temporal variability in the manufacture, use and value of metal artefacts remains relatively underdeveloped. The main aim of this research network is to enhance and diversify our understanding of the production, use and value of metals in America before and after Christopher Columbus, as a proxy for the underlying diversity of cultural and historical constingencies. We will pursue this aim by developing a coherent set of high-resolution, contextual approaches to specific case studies, focusing on: a. well-defined indigenous metal producing or metal-using regions, as a starting point to identify technological traditions and document regional variability. b. contact-period contexts of metal production and use, to explore the role of metals in the European colonial quest as well as indigenous responses to the contact through adaption, syncretism and rejection as recorded in the use of metals; and c. technical studies of indigenous production sites (as opposed to finished artefacts), to begin to fill this very significant gap in our knowledge. The RN will intially run between 2011 and 2014, with the possibility of extending it further.
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