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Silver, The Abundant Metal: Upper And Lower Peru

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Chapter Summary

Although the mines of Mexico produced the most silver in the Spanish Indies over the entire colonial epoch, Peru-Upper Peru (Bolivia) and Lower Peru (Peru)-produced more during the first half of that epoch. Spaniards became aware of the precious metals of Peru at the moment of conquest with their most salient introduction to Inca riches coming in 1533 when they acquired Atahualpa's ransom. Less well known than Atahualpa's ransom was the Cuzco distribution, a sharing of booty taken in the Spaniards' conquest of the Inca capital in March 1534. The factors influencing Peruvian silver production in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the introduction of almagamation in the 1570s, the initial richness of the silver ore mined at Potosí, and the discovery of rich lodes at Cailloma, Carangas, Chucuito, and Oruro. The chapter discusses the Peruvian silver production by Caja district (1531-1810).

Keywords: Atahualpa's ransom; Caja district; Cuzco distribution; Peruvian silver production



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