Saturday, January 12, 2019

Metallurgy in the Americas – Part VI

Continued from the previous post regarding the presence of metallurgy in South America, where archaeologists claim metallurgy began, and from there traveled northward into Central, Meso-, and North America. It was also discussed that Andean metallurgists used alloys almost exclusively to mold their images.
    It should be noted that while the rich development of metallurgical technology dating back as early as 2150 BC that arose and was sustained in what is today, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, supported a highly sophisticated metallurgical tradition with the production of a broad range of metals and metal alloys, such was not the case in either Mesoamerica, or North America.
    Unfortunately, when it comes to metallurgy discussion in the Americas, little interest or attention has been paid to Andean metallurgy, because archaeologists and historians cannot find a “bronze age” or an “iron age” as characteristic of New World prehistory (Heather Lechtman, “Andean Value systems and the Development of Prehistoric Metallurgy,” Technology and Culture, Society of the History of Technology, vol.25, no.1, January 1984).
    This suggests that there were no specific periods of development stages in South America, but a mixture of technology, which should suggest to anyone studying the Land of Promise location that Andean South America was not a slow development of growth and technological development, as in other parts of the Americas, and the world, but a blooming of technology from already advanced sources.
Top: Ancient Ziggurat in Ur; Bottom: Ancient walled structure in Mesopotamia; the land of the Jaredites before they left for the promised land

This would have been the result of the Jaredites, coming from a society that had already achieved the building of large ziggurats, hanging gardens, bridges and untold wealth in building achievement; and that the Nephites came from a society that had been building with stone large buildings, temples, and cities for hundreds of years.
    In addition, what is important to keep in mind is the amount of metallurgy, dating from around 2100 BC onward that has been found, identified and categorized in the Andes of South America, specifically in northern Ecuador, Peru, western Bolivia, and Chile—the specific area of the island that was Lehi’s Land of Promise. Nowhere else in the Americas was gold, silver and other metals, like iron and steel, smelted and worked by local craftsmen throughout this time, other than copper in central and northeastern North America.
    On the other hand, and contrary to many Mesoamerican theorists, including John L. Sorenson, the emergence of metallurgy in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica occurred relatively late in the region's history, with distinctive works of metal apparent in West Mexico by roughly 800 AD. In fact, there have been no factual evidence of metallurgy before that time, though people like Sorenson claim the linguistics show that the word “metal” was known to the Maya as early as 600 AD
    In West Mexico, much like in South America, fine metals were seen as a material for the elite. Metal's special qualities of color and resonance seemed to have appealed most and then led to the particular technological developments seen in the region (Dorothy Hosler, "Ancient West Mexican Metallurgy: South and Central American Origins and West Mexican Transformations," American Anthropologist, vol.90, Iss.4, 1988, pp832–855).
    Exchange of ideas and goods with peoples from the Ecuador and Colombia region (likely via a maritime route) seems to have fueled early interest and development.
Map of (Brown) West Mexico with Sorenson’s map (dotted lines) of his Land of Promise in Mesoamerican overlaid. Note that West Mexico, where metallurgy was earliest found in Mexico, Mesoamerica and Central America, is not even within the area claimed to have been the Jaredite/Nephite lands

Similar metal artifact types, the earliest and most diverse finds, were in West Mexico, an area stretching in a belt along the Pacific coast covering four states, from Guerrero to Nayarit and including Jalisco and Michoacán. This indicates that this belt region was a regional nucleus of metallurgy, from which elements of technique, form and style could have diffused later throughout Mesoamerica (David M. Pendergast, "Metal Artifacts in Pre-hispanic Mesoamerica," American Antiquity, vol.27, 1962, pp520–545). By later, that is meant to be after 800 AD.
    These metal objects are categorized in three groups: utilitarian, individual ornamentation, and ceremonial, the vast bulk of objects found in that latter two categories. In fact, copper rings, needles and tweezers were fabricated in the same ways in West Mexico as they had much earlier in southern Ecuador and northern Peru. In addition, a multitude of bells were also found in West Mexico cast by the same lost-wax casting method as found earlier in the Andes, and copper for these many objects, which were almost exclusively copper during this West Mexico period (Dorothy Hosler, "Ancient West Mexican Metallurgy: South and Central American Origins and West Mexican Transformations," American Anthropologist, vol.90, Iss.4, 1988, pp832–855).
    It should also be noted that the Aztecs, which originated in North Mexico and moved into Mesoamerica around the beginning of the 13th century AD, did not initially adopt metal working, even though they had acquired metal objects from other peoples. However, as conquest gained them metal working regions, the technology started to spread by them. By the time of the Spanish, a bronze-smelting technology seemed to be nascent, or just coming into existence.
    While Sorenson, in his 1985 book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, claims metal finds in Mesoamerica prior to 800 AD, seemingly known only to him, no metallurgist or archaeologist has claimed such findings in all of Mexico, Meso- and Central America, though much excavation and searching has been done there. In fact, the Aztec ore source as late as 1300 AD of copper, gold, tin, and lead, lay outside of the Basin of Mexico but within Aztec tribute provinces; the metal itself was worked or cast in Tenochtitlan [Mexico City] workshops (Dorothy Hosler, “Archaeology of Mesoamerica, Production Trade and Exchange,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, ed. by Nichols and Rodriguez-Alegría, Oxford University Press, England, 2017).
16th century AD codices showing Aztec weaponry usage (top left) macuahuitl; (top middle) quauhōlolli; (top right) tlaximaltepoztli, when the Spanish arrived. Note bottom image of the Codex Tovar showing the Aztec usage of blunt weapons and clubs—no pointed weapons were involved as late as the 1500s AD

However, by the time of the Spanish conquest, the Aztecs in 1521, the Aztecs had become quite efficient at working gold, copper and silver into decorative gold pendants, and copper and silver jewelry. Their weapons, though, never advanced beyond wood, bronze and obsidian, the latter being more abundant and sharper than anything else they knew about, even the tlaximaltepoztli, a bronze-headed axe with a wood handle, or the quauhōlolli, as blunt weapon consisting of a wooden stick ending in a hard bronze ball. A third blunt weapon was the macuahuit, a wooden club with obsidian blades on the edges.
    It needs to be noted once again, the metal industry of Mexico centered in West Mexico, which is a region not included in the Mesoamerican Land of Promise model, barely touching the far northwest (actually west) of their Land Northward, an area the scriptural record makes not mention of the Jaredites or later Nephites ever actually inhabiting.
    It should also be noted, that the ancient Mayas (the Nephites in Mesoamerican theory) did not have metal tools because metals were not common to the area that they inhabited. In fact, the archaeological record shows they used tools such as fire and basalt axes on wood, though because of the unpredictable use of fire, they switched to basalt axes. On stone they used tools made of flint, obsidian, granite, limestone and quartzite (Henri Stierlin, Art of the Maya: from the Olmecs to the Toltec-Maya, Rizzoli, New York, 1981).
    It would seem that this alone, because of the numerous indications of metals, ores, precious metals, and all being worked (metallurgy) in the scriptural record of both the Jaredites and Nephites, and the non-existence of such ores in Mesoamerica, that this location could not possibly be the Land of Promise. However, to such theorists, the scriptural record is ignored and they blithely plug away at their model as the only location that meets all the requirements of the scriptural record.
(See the next post, “Metallurgy in the Americas – Part VII,” regarding the fact that almost all metallurgists claim that metallurgy developed and began in South America and from there traveled northward into Central, Meso-, and North America)

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