The Humachis of Huancavelica during the Late Colonial Period (AD 1780-1840)

Author(s): Douglas K Smit

Year: 2016


This paper will present preliminary results from excavations at Santa Barbara, the central labor encampment for the mercury mines of Huancavelica. Located in the Central Peruvian Andes, Huancavelica was the largest source of mercury in the Western Hemisphere and a critical source of wealth for Spain’s colonial empire. The Spanish administration mobilized labor through the infamous mita, a rotational labor tax that required colonial provinces to send one-seventh of their population to work in the mines. While historians emphasized the importance of Huancavelica for the colonial political economy, we know very little of the indigenous laborers actually responsible for this immense wealth. Therefore, this research combines archaeological analyses of household material culture, local notarial documents, and historical ethnography in order to understand the organization and colonial transformations of indigenous labor systems at Huancavelica. 

Cite this Record

The Humachis of Huancavelica during the Late Colonial Period (AD 1780-1840). Douglas K Smit. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434783)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Labor Markets Mining

Geographic Keywords
North America United States of America

Temporal Keywords
Colonial Latin America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 813