• Pre-Columbian Historical Legacy
  • Jewelry and Goldsmith Sculptural
  • Pre-Columbian Historical Legacy
  • Jewelry and Goldsmith Sculptural
The Gold Mines of the Incas

The Gold Mines of the Incas

Peru Mining Country

Historically, Peru is a mining country. A country of rich mountains, beautiful lands, smiling beaches, fertile lands, snowy peaks, broken rivers, is Peru. All cold lands, high mountain ranges, bare, treeless, red, brown, or whitish hills are paved with silver and gold. The Peruvian highlands are the most abundant in mines and at the same time the most populated and sterile. It can be considered that the entire extension of the Andes mountain range, to a greater or lesser degree, is an inexhaustible laboratory of gold and silver. From the moment the Spaniards invaded, committing the largest looting and genocide in history, which reduced from 15 million inhabitants to one and a half million where mining activity served to strengthen the Spanish crown, mercantile capitalist.


Pre-Inca mines

Long before the Inca period, different pre-Inca cultures knew how to extract metals and minerals, turning them into household items, weapons, or others. In the explorations carried out by the archeologist Cardich in Lauricocha, between Cerro de Paseo and Huánuco, corpses of children were found with an antiquity of 8000 years old. C. Wrapped with ocher-colored earth, turquoise cube-shaped necklace beads, and a large quantity of iron that demonstrate full knowledge of pre-Inca mining and metallurgy techniques.


Inca Mining

The mining industry was a complementary activity after agriculture. The Inca state was the owner of the means of production and mining deposits, which was established through wars of conquered and subdued peoples, who were forced to work in agriculture, coca cultivation, military service, construction of public works, and in addition to mining deposits. The Incas had discovered the mines of Peru where metals and minerals such as gold, silver, copper, lead, iron, pyrite, among others were worked. Being the main employees in the manufacture of ornamental objects, weapons, and some smaller-scale tools. The Incas had the main God, the Sun, and his descendant on earth was the Inca, who deserved all the adoration of the Inca people and who demonstrated it by delivering all the gold and silver extracted from the mine's religious objects of gold and silver. Thus, precious metal mining was oriented towards ceremonial, religious, political, military, industrial use, and the strengthening of the Inca imperial state. There was no other place where there are more gold and silver than in Peru. Ornamental objects were made of gold and silver, in the royal houses, the Incas embellished it and recreated with finest finishes, thus reviving them plants and animals of nature. Gardens and orchards with trees, plants, and beautiful flowers that were beginning to sprout, others half-grown, of all sizes, such as cornfields with their leaves, ears, roots, and flower. Animals in a wild atmosphere like birds, rabbits, lions, lizards, snakes, butterflies, foxes, cats, etc. Copper also had an instrumental and technical role, for the manufacture of agricultural tools.


Inca Gold and Silver Grade

The gold was jealously requisitioned by the state belonging to the Inca and the Sun. Tupac Yupanqui ordered to apprehend the merchants who brought gold, silver, precious stones or other exquisite things, to investigate where they had found and thus discover the gold and silver mines, a time where the law is dictated that no gold and silver that enters Cuzco, can leave otherwise the death penalty will be applied.


Inca Technology

The technology used by the Incas in the exploitation of the mines was open pit and pits, developed through the use of different techniques of its time, such as open-pit metal extraction, pits systems, and tools based on wood, stones, and metals. Metals with which alloys were made, forged, rolled, embossed, chiseling, engraving, casting, pressure, welding, rivet, gold, and embedded. In the drilling of tunnels, the exploitation and surface procedures were rudimentary; they were not deepened beyond natural light. For the extraction, they used vertical galleries, tunnels, and open pit.
Ancient technical descriptions that related caves were found near rivers at half the height, where they drilled by digging the ground with deer horns, bones, stakes, and stones, where they took out bags of sheep hides also extracted gold with shakers and rafts. Copper was used in some articles mainly in the manufacture of weapons and tools, a small percentage of tin was added, and the alloy constituted the so-called Peruvian bronze.
The excavation mines corresponded mainly to the mines in the Collao region. The mine aided on a large scale the recruitment of men for the extraction of minerals and the logic for the management of the mines was used to establish periods of mineral extraction, work shifts and to propose expected achievements. Metallurgy also reached surprising degrees of technology development, as in the case of fusion and metal rolling methods.
Later, the people of Nazca, especially Chimú, excelled in metallurgy, reaching an exceptional technology for working in gold in soldering, plating, gilding, electron, stamping, pearling, filigree and alloys, resources that they achieved perfectly. In the process of expansion of the Tahuantinsuyo and the conquest of the town of Chimú by the Incas, they assimilated their technology, where they captured the experience of technology not only of Chimú, but also of Nazca, Chavín, Tiahuanaco, and Wari that were cultured before that of the Incas.


The Cajamarca Assault

The Inca Atahualpa was captured when he was carrying out administrative and political acts in the city of Cajamarca, he immediately ordered his subjects to concentrate all the precious metals that were held in exchange for their freedom. Many treasures such as sculptures, fountains, vases, pots, plates, and gold plates on the walls were melted from the large quantity of silver and gold found, reducing to fine gold, and another group of treasures was brought to Spain: jars, jars, sculptures among others. Pizarro took the singular treasure from the seat of the Inca King as if predicting that the King of Spain would sit on it. A harsh reality that Peru lived with the death of the Inca Atahualpa, and then went on to a history full of shadows that lasted more than three centuries of Spanish rule, and then went on to the republic.


Hidden Mining Deposits

The Incas, seeing the Spaniards' excessive ambition for gold and silver, chose to hide the metal mining deposits and most of their wealth and treasures, because they felt that nobody had to use what was due to the Inca King. This is where the stories of hidden treasures come from.


Spanish colonization

The looting of the Incas in Cajamarca and Cuzco, exterminated the Inca natives mainly the mining myth, agriculture, flourishing cultures, and it was discovered that the mines of Peru had given more wealth to Spain than the riches of looting. The Spanish crown adopts control of its new conquered colony, establishing the viceregal government system, where the king of Spain controls the Peruvian colony through the viceroys, imposing the political, economic, military, religious, legal, social and cultural order, a beginning difficult and complex of a new economy foreign to the development of the Tahuantinsuyo. The colonial-era cracked and destroyed the Inca production system.
Spanish control of mining deposits that focused on the exploitation of gold and silver, which developed ruthlessly, with slave characteristics mainly in the mining seats of Huancavelica and Potosí. Every year it was taken out of Peru to send Spain, millions of silver and gold. The treasure obtained by the Spanish was little compared to the products of the following mines.

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