Metals, microanalysis and meaning: a study of metal objects excavated from the indigenous cemetery of El Chorro de Maíta, Cuba

Marcos Martinón-Torres, Roberto Valcárcel Rojas, Jago Cooper, Thilo Rehren

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32 Citations (Scopus)


This is the first publication reporting systematic analytical research conducted on archaeological metals from Cuba. The main focus of the study consists of beads and small metal objects excavated at the cemetery of El Chorro de Maíta, which comprises some of the richest funerary deposits so far recovered on the island. Some comparative samples from the nearby site of Alcalá were also investigated, with an emphasis made on the manufacture, composition and origins of the different alloys. The resulting picture is that members of the social elite of the indigenous Taíno peoples were buried with beads made of placer gold exploited locally, gold-copper-silver pendants brought from continental South America and, above all, brass lacetags from European clothing that were perceived as sacred metals. The archaeometallurgical approach offers fresh insight into the relationships between Europeans and Taínos, and the impact of colonization on the indigenous customs, values and social structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-204
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


  • Brass
  • caona
  • Caribbean
  • Cuba
  • Gold
  • guanín
  • Lacetags
  • Pre-Columbian
  • turey

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