An Archaeometallurgical Study of Mixtec Silver Gold Alloy Foils from Tomb no. 7, Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico

Author(s): Mayahuel Ortega-Aviles, D Tenorio-Castilleros, I L Segura-Venzor, Jose G Miranda-Hernandez and M A Velasco

The main pre-Columbian collection of gold artifacts in México, belongs to Mixtec culture, this is exhibited in the Gold Room of the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, México. It is well known that the funerary chamber called Tomb No. 7 from Monte Alban Oaxaca was discovered by Mr. Alfonso Caso in 1932; between an extensive quantity of artifacts manufactured with precious materials, 121 gold pieces were recovered. Few studies on metalwork was determined in particular parts of Mesoamerica, developing various methods to yield metal artifacts as reported by Motolinia, Sahagún, Las Casas, Bernal, Cortés, and others. Most archaeologists believe that the Mesoamerican metallurgy (México and Guatemala) is related to cultures from other regions of Central and South America because of certain similarities. The Mixtec goldsmiths employed several techniques such as ordinary casting, hammering, cold-working, lostwax casting, false filigree, welding and gilding to obtain artifacts and ingots of metals that had previously been molten. Ethnohistoric sources mention that “laminated gold” was worked exclusively via hammering to achieve hardness employing stone or copper tools.