Understanding Past and Present Cochineal Production in the Canary Islands

Author(s): Sarah Mattes

Year: 2014


Following Spanish conquest in the late 15th century, a series of commodities were introduced and produced in the Canary Islands and, while the agricultural economy today is much smaller than the tourist economy, many of these colonial products are still produced today. One such commodity is cochineal, introduced in the early 19th century. American cochineal was, for centuries, a dominant source of red dyestuff and, for a few decades in the mid-19th century, the Canary Islands were the largest producer of cochineal in the world. Though the people of Lanzarote were hesitant to adopt cochineal, its impact on the local commodity was so dramatic that it has become a tool through which contemporary farmers on Lanzarote maintain and assert their heritage. Archaeology can help shed light on the material manifestations of the introduction of cochineal as well as on the physical environment, architecture, and materiality of production. This project therefore investigates the material indices of the political and heritage economy of cochineal within the Atlantic world.

Cite this Record

Understanding Past and Present Cochineal Production in the Canary Islands. Sarah Mattes. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437023)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-47,14