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Documenting the History of Inca Precious Metal Production using Geochemical Techniques from Lake Sediments in the Andahuaylas Region of Peru

Kane, Molly Mae (2011) Documenting the History of Inca Precious Metal Production using Geochemical Techniques from Lake Sediments in the Andahuaylas Region of Peru. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The process of studying heavy metal concentrations in lake sediments in order to reconstruct pollution history has been used in a variety of environments and locations. Laguna Pacucha is one in a series of metal pollution studies from Peru and Bolivia, an area with a rich history of metallurgy. Laguna Pacucha lies in the Andahuaylas region of Peru, 145 km west of Cuzco, the Inca capital, and 20 km west of Curamba, a presumed ancient smelting site. The sediment record of Laguna Pacucha reveals a metal record that dates beyond 1225 AD. A major density change ~1225 AD, concurrent with a known period of drought, inhibits the possibility of a reliable age model below this point. Increases in Zn, As, and Cu after ~1225 AD could be indicative of local copper smelting, which supports separate evidence of the Curamba archeological site (near Laguna Pacucha) as a potential copper smelting site. These concentrations drop around the time of the Spanish conquest, and then the concentrations of a number of different metals increase after ~1600 and decrease by ~1850 AD, which could indicate smelting, but more likely indicates a change in land use. Our results provide a complex record of a changing Andean environment, and indicate a need for further study in the Andahuaylas region.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kane, Molly
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAbbott, Markmabbott1@pitt.eduMABBOTT1
Committee MemberJones, Charlescejones@pitt.eduCEJONES
Committee MemberCooke,
Committee MemberCollins, Markmookie@pitt.eduMOOKIE
Date: 3 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 30 March 2011
Approval Date: 3 June 2011
Submission Date: 20 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Atmospheric metal deposition; geoarchaeology; metallurgy; Pb; Peru; smelting
Other ID:, etd-04202011-163303
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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