The Organization and Technology of Sicán Metalworks: pXRF Analysis of Floors and Associated Residues

Author(s): John Merkel; Izumi Shimada

Year: 2015


The technical sophistication and versatility of 1000-year old Middle Sicán gold and other metalworks on the Peruvian north coast have long been appreciated. How were the artisans, raw materials and diverse manufacturing activities organized and managed? This paper aims to answer this and other technical, behavioral and organizational questions based on the 2014 excavation of a large and well-preserved workshop at the base of the monumental temple mound of Huaca Loro at the Middle Sicán capital of Sicán. Systematic application of portable X-ray fluorescence analysis to copper, gold, silver, arsenic and lead concentrations in floors and floor-context production debris such as ash and charcoal, together with abandoned furnaces, tools, scrap and slag, allow tentative reconstruction of the spatial organization, manufacturing sequence, scale and intensity of copper and gold alloy metalworks. As with other manufacturing activities studied thus far, this craft production was also characterized by a multiplicity of small production groups working close to each other. It appears that each of the six major temple mounds at the Sicán capital hypothesized to have represented six governing elite lineages had its own attached and closely supervised metal workshop.

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The Organization and Technology of Sicán Metalworks: pXRF Analysis of Floors and Associated Residues. Izumi Shimada, John Merkel. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397736)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;