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date: 11 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Inca Empire directed significant resources and labor toward the extraction of metals from the provinces. Using the case studies of Porco (silver), Viña del Cerro (copper), and the Tarapacá Valley (copper and silver), this chapter explores some of the strategies used by the Inca in obtaining metallurgical wealth. These case studies show that, as suggested by ethnohistoric sources, silver mining and subsequent purification were directly overseen by the state. In contrast to models of more indirect state involvement typically proposed for copper production, these case studies demonstrate that the Inca actively invested in expanding production of this metal, despite the fact that it was not necessarily destined for use in the imperial heartland. I propose several ways that the production of silver and copper enmeshed local people in relations of hierarchy, obligation, and reciprocity as they became subjects of the Inca Empire.

Keywords: Inca, mining, metallurgy, copper, silver, hierarchy

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