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Old 04-29-2004, 01:57 AM
HPL HPL is offline
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Pre-Columbian Gold mines

I remember reading that one of the reasons the spanish explorers was looking for El Dorado is because they kept finding Gold among the Native Americans, but always seemed to assume they got it from somewhere else. Presumably the most of the natives did not have direct access to gold mines.

So where were the pre-columbian gold mines that supplied the natives with their gold that so attracted the Europeon explorers?
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Old 04-29-2004, 10:45 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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I believe in most areas (including the Hispaniola and Panama) the gold exploited by Native Americans was alluvial gold. It was found in streams as nuggets and gold dust. Sometimes it was extracted by techniques similar to panning.

I am not sure if native peoples ever used hard-rock mining techniques, but I have not heard of this.

In Panama, at least, most of the gold objects that the Indians had upon arrival of the Spanish had been accumulated over a period of centuries, either made from local placer gold or traded for from richer areas. The Spanish did not realize this, and assumed the use of such gold objects meant there were rich deposits in the area. But most of the alluvial deposits the Indians showed them were soon exhausted.
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Old 04-29-2004, 10:51 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HPL
I remember reading that one of the reasons the spanish explorers was looking for El Dorado is because they kept finding Gold among the Native Americans, but always seemed to assume they got it from somewhere else. Presumably the most of the natives did not have direct access to gold mines.

So where were the pre-columbian gold mines that supplied the natives with their gold that so attracted the Europeon explorers?
My first guess would have been alluvial, like most gold mining operations in the past. This site would seem to agree with me:
http://www.geotimes.org/aug03/resources.html

Note that the society was perfectly capable of more sophisticated techniques (adit mining, about on par with the contemporary European tech. level), as seen by their copper mines. It's just that most accesible gold is either alluvial, hard vein gold, or in sulphide ore relationships that are hard to beneficiate without some hardcore chemistry.
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Old 04-29-2004, 11:55 AM
MaryEFoo MaryEFoo is offline
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As to why the gold mines were always farther, you might envision a troup of Spanish soldiers showing up in a town and insisting on knowing where there was a lot of gold.

Who wouldn't tell them, "Sure there is a place with tons of the stuff, but it's not here, it's over past that far ridge you can just see."

...hey, give the Indians the credit, even if they were telling the whole truth and said "You can get somewhat more gold than we can locally by going over that way", very crude translations would convey "much gold, thataway".
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