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Archaeometallurgy in the Paraná Delta (Argentina): Composition, manufacture, and indigenous routes

01 Sep 2017-Journal of Anthropological Archaeology (Academic Press)-Vol. 47, pp 1-11

Abstract: The results of macroscopic, microscopic, and metallographic studies of archaeological metal objects from the Delta of the Parana River (Argentina, South America) are presented. The aim of these studies was to determine the chemical composition and the manufacturing techniques of these allochthonous objects frequently placed in human burials. The results were discussed taking into account archaeological and ethnohistorical information in order to understand the significance of metals and the indigenous routes to the Parana River. We concluded that the metal pendants and beads recovered in the Parana Delta were manufactured from copper by casting in open moulds and hammering. Finished metal objects reached the Parana River as a result of exchange circuits involving transport across pre-Hispanic routes from the production centres in the Andes. Metal objects from distant geographical areas were used to mark social ranks within the groups and were symbols of prestige displayed by local leaders.
Topics: Archaeometallurgy (51%)

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Archaeometallurgy in the Paraná Delta (Argentina): Composition,
manufacture, and indigenous routes
Mariano Bonomo
a,
, Edgardo D. Cabanillas
b
, Ricardo Montero
c
a
CONICET-División Arqueología, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, UNLP. Museo de La Plata, Paseo del Bosque s/n°, (1900) La Plata, Argentina
b
CONICET-Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, Centro Atómico Constituyentes, Av. Gral. Paz y Constituyentes, San Martín, Argentina
c
Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, Centro Atómico Constituyentes, Av. Gral. Paz y Constituyentes, San Martín, Argentina
article info
Article history:
Received 30 May 2016
Revision received 29 December 2016
Keywords:
Metal circulation
pre-Hispanic times
first Spanish chronicles
La Plata basin
abstract
The results of macroscopic, microscopic, and metallographic studies of archaeological metal objects from
the Delta of the Paraná River (Argentina, South America) are presented. The aim of these studies was to
determine the chemical composition and the manufacturing techniques of these allochthonous objects
frequently placed in human burials. The results were discussed taking into account archaeological and
ethnohistorical information in order to understand the significance of metals and the indigenous routes
to the Paraná River. We concluded that the metal pendants and beads recovered in the Paraná Delta were
manufactured from copper by casting in open moulds and hammering. Finished metal objects reached
the Paraná River as a result of exchange circuits involving transport across pre-Hispanic routes from
the production centres in the Andes. Metal objects from distant geographical areas were used to mark
social ranks within the groups and were symbols of prestige displayed by local leaders.
Ó 2017 Published by Elsevier Inc.
1. Introduction
Metal objects have been one of the most valued goods for
human societies all over the world since the emergence of metal-
lurgy. They have been transported for millennia for very long dis-
tances, from the sources and metal production workshops to the
places of use, as observed in the southern South American Andes
(e.g., González, 1992; González et al., 2011). In most parts of the
South American lowlands, indigenous people did not make metal
objects, but they obtained them through exchange with Andean
populations (Steward, 1944–49). The archaeological data
(Prümers, 2007; Angiorama and Taboada, 2008) and the sixteenth
century ethnohistorical references Combès (2008) and Susnik
(1993) show an intense metal circulation from the Meridional
Andes Area towards the eastern lowlands. Metal objects from the
Calchaquí valleys in the north-west of Argentina have even
reached the Patagonia region (more than 1900 km away in a
straight line) as evidenced by a funerary context of the beginning
of the Hispanic contact (Gómez Otero, 2003). They circulated as
finished objects, ingots or unfinished hammered sheets (thin
plates), and were made of copper, bronze alloy and, to a lesser
extent, gold and silver.
In the case of the La Plata basin, the second biggest basin in the
South American lowlands, the first chronicles (e.g., Lopes de Sousa
[1531], 1861; Ramírez [1528] in Madero, 1902; Núñez Cabeza de
Vaca [1541–1544], 2014) frequently mention metal objects in pos-
session of indigenous people. A few metals have also been recorded
in some archaeological sites in the south of this basin, especially in
the middle and lower Paraná and Uruguay Rivers (Araújo, 1900;
Torres, 1911; Serrano, 1934; Hilbert, 1986; Ceruti, 1993). Based
on this and other evidence (the rocks used for knapping, malachite
beads, pottery representations of non-native fauna, and possibly
the circulation of domestic camelids) it has been proposed
(Torres, 1911; Serrano, 1950; Ceruti, 1993; Bonomo et al., 2011;
Loponte et al., 2011) that the indigenous populations from the allu-
vial plains and the delta of the Paraná River were engaged in supra-
regional social networks which included the circulation and trans-
port of objects from the Meridional Andes Area. This is the main
idea that this paper seeks to asses.
The results of macroscopic, microscopic, and metallographic
studies of 11 archaeological metal pieces from the Delta of the
Lower Paraná River (Argentina) are presented. The objectives of
these studies were to determine the chemical composition of the
objects and the existence of any sort of alloy, as well as to obtain
information about the metallurgical manufacturing techniques.
Finally, the results were contextualized by analysing and dis-
cussing the supra-regional archaeo-metallurgical data and the eth-
nohistorical information in order to understand the possible
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2017.02.001
0278-4165/Ó 2017 Published by Elsevier Inc.
Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: mbonomo@fcnym.unlp.edu.ar (M. Bonomo), cabanill@cnea.
gov.ar (E.D. Cabanillas), rmontero@cnea.gov.ar (R. Montero).
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 47 (2017) 1–11
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jaa

origins, routes, and circulation mechanisms of metal objects until
they reached the indigenous populations of the Paraná Delta.
2. Materials and methods
The studied metal objects are part of the Luis María Torres Col-
lection (División Arqueología of the Museo de La Plata, Universidad
Nacional de La Plata). The 11 objects comprise 14 fragments that
come from three archaeological sites: Túmulo I del Paraná Guazú
(TIPG; located at S 34°1
0
and W 58°41
0
), Túmulo II del Paraná
Guazú (TIIPG; S 33°57
0
and W 58°47
0
), and Túmulo I del Brazo
Gutiérrez (TIBG; S 33°51
0
and W 58°37
0
)(Fig. 1). Part of these
pieces and their discovery context were partially described by
Torres (1911). He presents the results of his fieldwork on these
three earth mounds where, besides the pieces analysed here, he
also recovered abundant smoothed and incised pottery, bone tools,
lithic artefacts, endocarps of palm fruits, and faunal remains of fish,
deer, felines, and freshwater molluscs, along with numerous
human skeletons (for a review of Torres Collection see Bonomo
et al., 2009). Three radiocarbon dates were obtained on these sites:
576 ± 42
14
C years BP for TIPG (AA-93215; Bonomo et al., 2011:
312), 846 ± 41
14
C years BP for TIIPG (AA-72633; Bernal, 2008:
94) and 752 ± 41
14
C years BP for TIBG (AA-72635; Bernal, 2008:
94).
Torres (1911: 578) published wet-chemical analysis of four
pieces
1
from TIIPG, performed by Herrero Ducloux, the first doctor
in chemistry in Argentina, who identified a marked predominance
of copper (Cu). Besides this precedent, there are few analyses of
the chemical composition of metal artefacts in the region. They are
only limited to indigenous settlements from the initial period of
the Hispanic contact (Las Conchas site, Serrano, 1934 and possibly
Arroyo Fredes site, Loponte et al., 2011) and settlements of European
origin, which are not included in this paper, such as Santa Fe la Vieja
city founded in 1573 (e.g. Fester and Retamar, 1955) and the Francis-
can missions of Santiago del Baradero founded in 1615 (Debenedetti,
1910; Tapia et al., 2009). Most of these studies recorded brass
objects (a Cu-Zn alloy) unknown in pre-Colombian America.
In the present study the following analyses were performed:
(1) Macroscopic analysis: All metal pieces were weighed with
an Ariete Libra 850 electronic scale (1.0 g accuracy), mea-
sured with a vernier caliper (0.1 cm accuracy), and morpho-
logically described (Table 1).
(2) Chemical composition and corrosion: Several measurements
by Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry (EDS) were made
on the surface of micro areas with and without patina of
each of the 11 pieces. Based on these results and other fea-
tures, such as colour and texture, the oxides and carbonates
adhered to the surface of the pieces were also identified. The
EDS analyses were done with EDAX equipment coupled to a
FEI Quanta 200 scanning electron microscope (SEM-EDS).
(3) Manufacturing work: In order to evaluate microstructurally
the morphological characteristics and the manufacturing
methods, all of the 11 pieces and the metallographic replicas
made from three of them (one from each archaeological site)
were observed with SEM at different magnifications. The
replica technique was used because of its minor alteration
procedure in order to preserve the museum collection
pieces. The three samples were selected after the EDS anal-
ysis of all the pieces, searching for the representation of
the different chemical compositions, of the distinct types
of objects, and of the three archaeological sites with separate
chronologies. The area studied was prepared according to
the specifications of the ASTM E-3 and the ASTM E-1351
standards (i.e., standards for the preparation of a metallo-
graphic specimen and replica, respectively); the develop-
ment of the microstructure was performed according to
the ASTM E-407 standard (i.e., standard procedures for the
development of the microstructure). The metallographic
microscope used in these studies was an Olympus BMX 51.
3. Results
3.1. Macroscopic analyses
The metallic pieces are part of ornaments, possibly pendants
and beads, and they all have holes to be suspended (Table 1). They
have semi-lunar, trapezoidal, rectangular, and quadrangular
shapes with rounded corners. They are light, small, and very thin:
weight <15 g, length <20 cm, and very uniform thickness 0.1 cm.
The rectangular (TIIPG N°4) and quadrangular (TIBG N°11) pen-
dants were embossed with a blunted point, making a bass-relief
decoration formed by a succession of points of ca. 2 mm in diame-
ter around the perimeter of the pieces. In four of the pieces (TIIPG
N°4, TIBG N°6, N°7 and N°11), it can be observed that the suspen-
sion hole was made through mechanical action with a pointed ele-
ment perforating from one of the piece surfaces and leaving an
irregular burr of metal material around the hole on the opposing
surface.
3.2. Chemical composition and corrosion
The metal used for manufacturing all the pieces is mainly pure
Cu, as indicated by EDS analyses (Fig. 2a and b). Analyses of the
particles as well as the matrix of the surfaces without patina show
only Cu and no detectable alloy compounds. The composition of
the semi-lunar pendant is an exception in the entire object assem-
blage (Fig. 2c). In this particular piece, in addition to a Cu predom-
inance, tin (Sn) was found as another main element, which
represents a percentage in weight up to 9.6%. For this reason, it
is classified as bronze formed by a Cu-Sn alloy. The intentional
incorporation of Sn improves the mechanical properties and
decreases the copper’s reddish colour, making the pieces look more
golden (González, 2002; Palacios, 2011).
In addition, traces of Fe, O, P, Cl, C, S, Si, Al, and Ca were
detected. These contaminant elements were found mainly on the
unpolished zones and they come from the Cu oxide and other ele-
ments that are present on the superficial patinas (Fe, O, Cl, Si, Ca, S),
from the contact with the sedimentary matrix where the objects
were deposited (Si, Al, Ca, P, Cl) (Fig. 2d) (see Angiorama, 2001),
and possibly from the decomposition of adjacent human burial (P
and C). Precisely, in metal pieces from funerary contexts, such as
the ones studied here, the corrosive processes are intensified due
to the combination of environmental conditions and alterations
generated by the organic substances during the decomposition of
the bodies (Pifferetti, 2001:787).
The analysed pieces show stratified corrosion layers formed by
different combinations of Cu minerals. On their external surfaces, a
patina has been formed by quite stable Cu carbonates that natu-
rally protect the metal. However, besides this stable dark green
patina, in some cases the carbonates have been combined with
other products of corrosion that are highly active and have an
adverse effect on the preservation of the material structure. These
compounds are the Cu chlorides in a light green colour and a pow-
dery texture. Beneath these layers made by salts, continuous red-
dish surfaces have been generated, which constitute passivation
patinas formed by the oxidation of Cu. They isolate the metal, thus
favouring its preservation. The original metallic core can be
1
Two of these pieces (N° 2 and 4; see Fig. 86 in Torres, 1911: 258) could not be
located in the collection stored at the División Arqueología of Museo de La Plata.
2 M. Bonomo et al. / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 47 (2017) 1–11

observed underneath this first corrosion layer, especially on the
fractures.
3.3. Metallographic and scanning electron microscope analyses
Piece of tin bronze: The two suspension holes on one of the ends
of this semi-lunar pendant (TIPG N°1) were studied: a complete
hole (0.3 0.5 cm) and an incomplete hole (Fig. 1a). The observed
primary micro-structure is typical of a piece made by casting. The
metallographic analyses of both holes edges show no plastic defor-
mation. Even though the edge of the complete suspension hole
(Fig. 3a) is very irregular due to corrosion, it does not present
any evidence of mechanical work by pounding and it preserves
the signs of the primary manufacture process, that is, the casting.
This is evidenced by its dendritic structure (Fig. 3b) and the
sub-grains with precipitates (Fig. 3c) and without twins. The edge
of the incomplete suspension hole presents a solidification struc-
ture (Fig. 3d) similar to that of the other hole. The morphology
(Fig. 4a) and the absence of plastic deformation on the edges of
the suspension holes indicate that they were also made during
the alloy melting. Therefore, the manufacture hypothesis is that
this piece was made by casting in an open mould or bivalve whose
interior had the shape of the pendant and contained some sort of
implement with an oval section that could craft the holes. In addi-
tion, it is interesting to note the morphology of the precipitates or
Cu oxides formed and their alignment in the dendritic zone
(Fig. 4b), as they show heterogeneities in the casting process.
Cu pieces: The trimmed area of the rectangular pendant (TII PG
N°4) was analysed in detail, as well as two beads with patinas
(TIBG N°6 and 9; Fig. 5a), and one bead without it (TIBG N°10).
Fig. 1. Location of the archaeological sites with metal objects of the Torres Collection: (a) Túmulo I del Paraná Guazú and (b) Túmulo II del Paraná Guazú, c. Túmulo I del Brazo
Gutiérrez.
Table 1
Weight, dimensions, morphology and possible function of the metal pieces from the sites Túmulo I and Túmulo II del Paraná Guazú and Túmulo I del Brazo Gutiérrez.
Piece N of
frag-ments
Possible function Morphology Weight
(g)
Length
(cm)
Width
(cm)
Thickness
(cm)
TIPG N
°1
2 Pendant Semi-lunar with two suspension holes in both rounded ends 13 7.1 3.1 0.1
TIPG N°2 1 Indet. Rectangular fragment 2 3.9 3.2 <0.1
TIPG N°3 1 Indet. Rectangular fragment 0.5 1.4 1 <0.1
TIIPG N
°4
a
2 Pendant Rectangular with a perforation on a side
c
17 10 5.7 <0.1
TIIPG N°5
b
2 Indet. Irregular fragments 4 5.4 3.6 <0.1
TIBG N°6 1 Bead Quadrangular with rounded corners and a central perforation 2 2.4 2.2 <0.1
TIBG N°7 1 Bead Quadrangular with rounded corners and a central perforation 3 3.1 2.8 <0.1
TIBG N°8 1 Bead Quadrangular with rounded corners and a lateral centre perforation 3 2.8 2.3 <0.1
TIBG N°9 1 Bead Quadrangular with rounded corners and edges and a perforation 2 2.6 2.1 0.1
TIBG N
°10
1 Bead Trapezoidal with rounded corners and edges and a lateral centre perforation 3 2.8 2.6 <0.1
TIBG N°11 1 Pendant Rectangular with a perforation on a side 7 5.9 4.8 <0.1
Note: The metallographic analyses were performed on the three underlined pieces.
a
Corresponding to piece N° 1inTorres (1911: Apendix IV).
b
Could be a fragment of piece N° 3inTorres (1911: Apendix IV).
c
There is a missing fragment of this piece due to a modern cut, possibly product of Torres analysis (1911: see Figure 86).
M. Bonomo et al. / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 47 (2017) 1–11
3

The perforated zones and perimeter edges of these pieces were
microscopically observed. The metallographic study of the rectan-
gular pendant yielded the same manufacture process than in TIBG
N°10; therefore, we will focus on the description of this latest
piece. The metallographies indicate that the initial manufacture
stage involved alloy melting in the form of a small ingot or a bigger
chunk of pure Cu. Precisely, the micro-shrinkage cavities observed
in Fig. 6a are defects generated during ingot melting. The observed
oxides precipitation (Figs. 5b, Fig. 6b) shows poor deoxidation of
the liquid metal during melting. There are no traces of mechanical
work or cutting (shearing) on the perimeter edge; instead, it also
has defectology on the melting.
Fig. 2. Energy dispersive X-ray micro-analysis. (a) Particle of TIBG N°10, (b) Matrix of TIIPG N°4, (c) Piece TIPG N°1, and (d) Superficial patina of TIBG N°6.
Fig. 3. Optical metallographic macrophotos of TIPG N°1 microstructure. (a) Edge of the complete suspension hole (marked by an arrow), (b) dendritic microstructure, (c) sub-
grains with precipitates (marked by an arrow), and (d) primary solidification microstructure of the edge of the incomplete suspension hole.
4 M. Bonomo et al. / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 47 (2017) 1–11

Annealing twins were observed in the matrix (Fig. 6c). They
were generated when the piece was reheated due a thermo-
mechanical treatment during forming and when recrystallization
processes occurred. The twins indicate that the thickness of the
piece was obtained by lamination or hammering (Fig. 5c). This type
of mechanical deformation that increases the sheet hardness can
be discerned by the oxides orientations (Fig. 6b), which follow
the hammering direction. In Fig. 6c and d the matrix with anneal-
ing twins was observed over a previous inter-dendritic phase,
which is characteristic of molten material prior to this hot forming.
Therefore, the middle manufacture stage included hammering to
stretch the sheets and annealing at temperatures below melting.
Finally, SEM micrographies make it possible to analyse some
details in TIBG N°6 and TIIPG N°4. Bead TIBG N°6 has a deformed
crater-shaped edge (Fig. 5d), which was probably perforated in
cold. This plastic deformation around the hole indicates that it
was made through manual mechanical action with a pointed
object. In the case of the trim on pendant TIIPG N°4, the holes’ mor-
phology and microstructure (Fig. 5e and f) indicate that they were
made on a mould during casting. In these holes there are annealing
twins, oriented precipitates, and a heterogeneous distribution of
the production phases, which indicate that areas with different
proportions of alloying have been generated during casting.
4. Discussion
The metal objects found in the Paraná Delta are the final pro-
duct of specialized technology. The production sequence included
the selection and extraction of Cu and Sn from different mineral
deposits, grinding of metalliferous ores, smelting in special ovens
usually at temperatures above 1000 °C, casting liquid metal in
open moulds, and different manufacturing and decoration tech-
niques: hammering, drilling, deburring, polishing and embossing
(González, 1992; Palacios, 2011). There are no Cu or Sn sources
in the Delta; thus, the extraction would not have been done in
the studied area. In addition, no remains of raw metalliferous min-
erals have been found, nor is there any evidence of the manufac-
ture of metal objects (e.g., ovens, ceramic tubes, stone or ceramic
moulds, containers with metal adhesions that may be assigned to
crucibles, tools such as chisels or hammers, remains of melted
mineral in the form of slag) like those recorded in regions such
as the north-west of Argentina (NWA), where there is a clear devel-
opment of the metallurgic technology during pre-Hispanic times
(Amborsetti, 1904; Pifferetti, 2002; Palacios, 2011; Campos,
2009). For this reason, it is proposed that metallurgy in the Lower
Paraná River is a foreign technology and that the metal objects
reached the area as finished products.
The first metal records in the Lower and Middle Paraná River
(Table 2) date back to 967–1154 cal years AD and 1175–1283 cal -
years AD, respectively. They are prior to the arrival of the Incas in
NWA (early fifteenth century), and they overlap the late period
known as Desarrollos Regionales in NWA (ninth to fifteenth cen-
turies), where Cu and tin bronze metallurgy had a great develop-
ment (González and Gluzman, 2007:193, 195, 196). The nearest
NWA archaeological sites of the Desarrollos Regionales and Inca
periods are located at distances greater than 900–1000 km in a
straight line of the studied sites of the Paraná Delta. This distance
is actually greater if we take into account the mountainous reliefs
of the region. The cultural developments in the NWA did not have a
direct impact on the Paraná Delta, although they possibly did affect
a greater circulation of goods to remote areas. The arrival of the
Incas in the NWA induced an increase in both the metallurgical
production and the circulation flow of finished products
(González and Gluzman, 2007).
As shown in Table 2, few Cu disks, beads and sheet fragments
have been recovered in some archaeological sites in the Lower
and Middle Paraná and Uruguay Rivers, and the Northern Pampas
region. Most of these materials are ornaments that were frequently
included in burial contexts as the funerary objects of some individ-
uals. The practice of placing metal pieces along with the body of
certain individuals, usually next to the head, was initially seen in
pre-Hispanic archaeological sites. It has also been recorded in sites
with late radiocarbon dates and imported objects that belong to
post-Hispanic times, when metal pieces were buried along with
glass beads of European origin. Metals were recovered in sites from
the studied area associated with different archaeological entities,
such as Goya-Malabrigo and Guaraní, showing that these objects
circulated among different indigenous populations of the region,
even after the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese. Therefore,
the first European observations of the local indigenous people
can be very useful for understanding how the metals came to the
Paraná River.
Since the beginning of the European conquest in the sixteenth
century, several references to the Paraná River and neighbouring
areas have been made about individuals from different indigenous
populations having metal objects: Chaná-timbú, Guaraní, Quer-
Fig. 4. Scanning electron microscope micrographies of TIPG N°1. (a) Suspension
hole morphology and (b) precipitates of the interdendritic spaces.
M. Bonomo et al. / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 47 (2017) 1–11
5

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Barbara Mazza1Institutions (1)
10 Jun 2015
Abstract: Durante fines del siglo XIX y principios del siglo XX tuvieron lugar varias exploraciones y excavaciones en sitios arqueologicos del humedal del Parana inferior, originando en consecuencia un gran acervo de materiales bioarqueologicos, entre otros, depositados hoy en dia en el Museo de la Plata de la Universidad Nacional de La Plata y en el Museo Etnografico de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Si bien algunos de los resultados derivados de aquellos trabajos de campo fueron publicados, otros permanecen ineditos. El objetivo de este trabajo es dar a conocer algunas caracteristicas de dichas colecciones bioarqueologicas a traves del analisis de 252 individuos que las conforman. En este sentido, procedimos a la determinacion sexual y estimacion etaria de la muestra y al registro de variables tafonomicas, este ultimo con el fin de poder identificar el posible contexto de inhumacion de donde provienen dichos individuos. A partir de este analisis y siguiendo los datos publicados se discriminaron entre inhumaciones en contacto directo con la tierra o en urnas. A su vez, se dio cuenta de una segmentacion espacial en base a categorias de sexo y edad para algunos sitios, como asi tambien de la presencia de adornos personales de metal, ocre y marcas de corte en algunos huesos. De esta manera, esperamos resaltar el valor que tienen las colecciones de museos como asi tambien contribuir y ampliar nuestro conocimiento sobre las caracteristicas de las poblaciones prehispanicas de la region. Abstract At the end of the 19 th and beginning of the 20 th century several explorations and excavations took place in archaeological sites at the lower Parana wetland, giving rise, among others, to a vast body of bioarchaeological remains, currently deposited at the Museo de la Plata de la Universidad Nacional de La Plata and at the Museo Etnografico de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. While some of the results from those field works were published, others remain unknown. The aim of this paper is to report on some characteristics of these bioarchaeological collections through the analysis of the 252 individuals that comprise them. Thus, we proceeded to the sex determination and age estimation of the sample, and to the record of taphonomic variables; the latter with the purpose of identifying the possible burial context where these individuals came from. From this analysis, and following the data published, we distinguished between burials in direct contact with the ground or in urns. In turn, a spatial segmentation for some sites was also reported on the basis of age and gender categories, in addition to the presence of personal metal ornaments, ocher, and cut marks on some bones. In this way, we hope to emphasize the value of museum collections and to contribute to gaining further insights into some features of the pre-Hispanic populations in the region.

1 citations


References
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Journal ArticleDOI
Brian Hayden1Institutions (1)
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Journal ArticleDOI
Marek Zvelebil1Institutions (1)
Abstract: My intention in this paper is to outline the main features and principal aspects of contact and exchange among the later prehistoric hunter–gatherers (late Mesolithic and post-Mesolithic) in the Baltic Sea basin, which covers the southern and eastern reaches of Northern Europe, and to summarise the main advances in current research. The area broadly covered includes the Baltic Sea basin that has provided effective routes for communication between the coastal regions surrounding the Baltic Sea, central Baltic islands, and regions further away in the north European Plain, inland regions of Fennoscandia and Russia that could be reached by an extensive network of major rivers and lakes. Effective transport for negotiating these routes both in the summer and winter existed already from the early Mesolithic. Goods moved along these routes included a wide range of artefacts discussed in the paper. Geographically, exchange was organised at three levels: regionally, inter-regionally, and over long distances. Each mode of exchange was probably organised along different lines socially, and each served to implement wide-ranging social strategies for the general purposes of social reproduction, mate exchange and biological reproduction, as well as the spread of innovations. In the concluding section, I discuss the nature of contacts and consequences of exchanges between the early farming communities and the hunter–gathering groups within the framework of the core-periphery relations.

69 citations