Emissions from pre-Hispanic metallurgy in the South American atmosphere
De Vleeschouwer, F
Le Roux, G
Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2014 De Vleeschouwer et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Metallurgical activities have been undertaken in northern South America (NSA) for millennia. However, it is still unknown how far atmospheric emissions from these activities have been transported. Since the timing of metallurgical activities is currently estimated from scarce archaeological discoveries, the availability of reliable and continuous records to refine the timing of past metal deposition in South America is essential, as it provides an alternative to discontinuous archives, as well as evidence for global trace metal transport. We show in a peat record from Tierra del Fuego that anthropogenic metals likely have been emitted into the atmosphere and transported from NSA to southern South America (SSA) over the last 4200 yrs. These findings are supported by modern time back-trajectories from NSA to SSA. We further show that apparent anthropogenic Cu and Sb emissions predate any archaeological evidence for metallurgical activities. Lead and Sn were also emitted into the atmosphere as by-products of Inca and Spanish metallurgy, whereas local coal-gold rushes and the industrial revolution contributed to local contamination. We suggest that the onset of pre-Hispanic metallurgical activities is earlier than previously reported from archaeological records and that atmospheric emissions of metals were transported from NSA to SSA.
This research is supported by a Young Researcher Grant of the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) to F. De Vleeschouwer (Project ANR-2011-JS56-006-01 “PARAD”). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
This is the final version of the article. Available from Public Library of Science via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 9 (10), article e111315
Place of publication
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Copyright: © 2014 De Vleeschouwer et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.