Pre-Columbian raw materials between southern Peru and northern Chile

Studies on exchange processes of lithic and metallic raw materials in the Andean cultures of South America.

The doctoral project connects strategically with the research begun in the Palpa region by Prof. Dr. Thomas Stöllner, Dr. Jan Cierny and Dr. Guntram Gassmann from the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum, examining the exchange processes of the Andean cultures in South America on the basis of the raw materials present there: copper, gold and obsidian.

The aim here is to clarify which deposits yielded the raw materials for the lithic and metallurgical products of the pre-Columbian cultures. The aim is to consider the localization of the historical mines and the reconstruction of the ancient mining techniques in a transnational context. Hence the north of Chile was chosen as a region for comparison, the idea being to draw conclusions about the Nasca-Palpa region on the basis of the studies carried out here. The focus is on the question of whether the trade routes changed in the course of the pre-Columbian period, or whether we can assume that certain deposits were in continuous use. Alongside archaeological surveys and excavations, geochemical analyses of ore and obsidian samples from the region will help to clarify this question.

Relevant project

Metal and obsidian. Pre-Columbian extraction of raw materials in southern Peru


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.


Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Kommission für Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen (KAAK)/ Prof. Dr. B. Eitel und Dr. M. Reindel


  • Th. Stöllner, M. Reindel, G. Gassman, B. Gräfingholt, J. Isla Cuadrado: Precolumbian raw-material exploitation in southern Peru – Structures and perspectives. Exploitation de materias primas precolumbinas en el sur de Perú – Estructuras y perspectivas. Chungara, Revista de Antropología Chilena 45/1, 2013, 105-129.
  • M. Reindel, Th. Stöllner, B. Gräfingholt: Mining Archaeology in the Nasca and Palpa Region, South Coast of Peru. In: N. Tripcevich, K. Vaughn (eds.), Mining and Quarrying in the Ancient Andes Sociopolitical, Economic, and Symbolic Dimensions (New York, Heidelberg: Springer 2012) 299-322.