Archaeometallurgy Community

Blowpipes and their metalworking applications: New evidence from Mayapán, Yucatán, Mexico

  • 1.  Blowpipes and their metalworking applications: New evidence from Mayapán, Yucatán, Mexico

    Staff Liaison
    Posted 03-09-2021 13:36
    Members of this community may be interested in the open-access article "Blowpipes and their metalworking applications: New evidence from Mayapán, Yucatán, Mexico," https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238885, published in the journal PLOS One.

    Abstract

    This study presents evidence of two tuyères, or blowpipe tips, used in metalworking at the Postclassic period city of Mayapán. Blowpipe technology has long been hypothesized to be the production technique for introducing oxygen to furnaces during the metal casting process on the basis of ethnohistorical depictions of the process in ancient Mesoamerica. To our knowledge, the tuyères recovered at Mayapán are the first archaeologically documented tuyères for pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica. The dimensions, internal perforation, vitrification, and presence of copper prills within the ceramic fabric, suggest that they were used in pyrotechnological production, likely metalworking, and is consistent with previous evidence for small-scale metalworking at Mayapán. Blowpipe use in metallurgical production is a logical extension of a much longer tradition of blowgun use in hunting, which was likely already present in Mesoamerica by the time metal was introduced to West Mexico from South America. Furthermore, the dimensions of the Mayapán tuyères are consistent with the internal diameter of ethnohistorically-documented blowguns from Jacaltenango in the southwest Maya region. We conducted replication experiments that suggest that when combined with wooden blowpipes, the Mayapán tuyères would have been ideal for small-scale, furnace-based metallurgy, of the type identified at Mayapán from Postclassic period contexts.

    I heard about the article from a news item published in an American Ceramic Society newsletter.




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    Scott Henry
    Senior Content Engineer
    ASM International
    Materials Park OH
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