Copper mask among oldest metal artefacts from South America

Rectangular copper mask, believed to be 3000 years old, that was found in Argentina is among the oldest metal man-made artefacts from South America.

Copper mask from Argentina (by Leticia Inés Cortés & María Cristina Scattolin)

The mask was discovered within a tomb containing bodies of adults and children in a tomb near the village of La Quebrada, in North-western Argentina. According to archaeologists there were about 14 bodies in the burial area, with the bones all mixed together and the mask placed on top of one corner of the pile. The mask measures about 18 centimetres long and nearly 15 centimetres wide and dates to approximately 1000 BC. Impurities in the copper are lower than 1 percent. Sources of copper ore have been found within 70 kilometres of the location where the mask was uncovered, suggesting that it was produced locally. It is therefore highly probably that metalworking emerged in Argentina at the same time that it was developing in Peru, according to the recently published study.

(after Leticia Inés Cortés, María Cristina Scattolin & Live Science)

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