The Reduction Welding Technique Used in Pre-Columbian Times: Evidences from a Silver Ring from Incallajta, Bolivia, Studied by Microscopy, SEM-EDX and PIXE

Abstract

A pre-Columbian silver ring from Incallajta, Bolivia, recovered from an archaeological excavation is composed of a thin sheet of silver bent to form the ring. Two small wires in the shape of the infinity sign are joined to the surface of the ring. Four green stone beads were laid inside the four cavities formed by the wires. Energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDX) and Particle Induced X-rays Emission (PIXE) analyses of the beads proved that they were turquoise. Examination with a stereoscopic binocular microscope indicated that the two wires could have been soldered to the ring by reduction welding, because copper corrosion products were found in the interface of the welding, similar to those seen on two modern silver objects from Indonesia, decorated with granulation. Since reduction welding is a technique not reported before in pre-Columbian metallurgy, further analyses were carried out to prove that it was used here. Thus, the ring was analyzed with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM-EDX) and external beam PIXE, showing with certainty that the copper content in the area of the welding was higher than in any other part of the ring, with increasing copper amounts towards the center of the weld.

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Montes, L.T., Ruvalcaba, J.L., Anaya, D.M. et al. The Reduction Welding Technique Used in Pre-Columbian Times: Evidences from a Silver Ring from Incallajta, Bolivia, Studied by Microscopy, SEM-EDX and PIXE. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1047, 201 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-1047-Y02-01

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