CERAMIC PETROGRAPHY APPLIED TO THE STUDY OF METALURGY IN THE PREHISPANIC ARGENTINE NORTHWEST
PETROGRAFÍA CERÁMICA APLICADA AL ESTUDIO DE LA METALURGIA EN EL NOROESTE ARGENTINO PREHISPÁNICO
Geraldine Gluzman and E. Beatriz Maisonnave
Pre-Hispanic production of metallurgical ceramics in Northwest Argentina has been a subject little discussed in traditional archaeometallurgical studies. Nevertheless, these ceramics, mainly molds and crucibles, were indispensable inputs of the most complex technology carried out by the pre-Hispanic societies of the area, as was the production of metallic goods. Although they have been analyzed in certain specific aspects, little research has been done on the characterization of their ceramic fabric. In this paper, we present an analysis of metallurgical ceramics from archaeological sites in the area through petrographic procedures. The sample, composed of ten specimens, contains ceramics from the Valliserrana area, covering from the province of Jujuy up to the province of San Juan. The analysis is enriched with descriptions of objects from other regions of Northwest Argentina as well as from the North of Chile. In this first stage towards a regional comparison, the results indicate that, at a regional level, the morphology of metallurgical ceramics shows an important similarity in forms and proportions, while the ceramic petrography accounts for a wide range of variability in terms of size and nature of inclusions, degree of porosity, and percentage of matrix, reflecting technological decisions, which were influenced by local geology and constrained by use as production inputs.