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Tumbaga- Gold relics from Colombia & Venezuela

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  • Tumbaga- Gold relics from Colombia & Venezuela

    These pictures are of one of my favorite relics.

    Tumbaga was a gold & copper alloy that Prehistoric groups used in Colombia that was traded through much of the Caribbean. It can range from basically 97% gold and 3% copper to 3% gold and 97% copper. The combination of the two metals lowers the melting point of either one of them to the point that Colombia groups used it to cast items from wax.

    When the Spanish arrived, basically everyone in Colombia would have been adorned with something made gold (nose rings are the most common), and the Conquistadors went crazy. Pretty soon they figured out that most of the mounds contained burials with gold, and the entire country was excavated very quickly (late 1500's and early 1600's.) Almost all of the gold was melted down before it was sent back to Spain on ships like the Atocha that was recovered in the Keys by Mel Fisher.

    The Tairona culture of Colombia made a lot of gold and frequently buried unfinished casts at sites. This piece was probably recovered in the late 1500's, tossed in a crucible for melting, and when the Spanish figured out it was on the 97% copper side, it was discarded before it was fully melted down. (Or the crucible cracked and the item was discarded when it was found out to be copper.) A bottle digger friend of mine found it while digging for bottles.

    This one still shows several different nose piece sections that would have been pieced together, as well as some little face figurines.







    Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    I don't have any personal finds quite this cool. Here are a couple of gold pieces I have found over the years from Venezuela. And I have a couple from the Caribbean as well.

    You can see the gold quality varies pretty significantly.

    If you soak the tumbaga in an acid mixture (citrus juice, vinegar), you can leach away the surface copper and buff/polish the gold to make it look more gold like which is what was done in most of the Americas.

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    • #3
      Very nice early examples of the treasures that drove the conquest of Mesoamerica - that had to be the best bottle dig EVER!
      If the women don\'t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

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      • #4
        Thanks for sharing these. Have always been fascinated by the cultures of South and Mesoamerica.
        Searching the fields of Northwest Indiana and Southwestern Michigan

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Olden View Post
          that had to be the best bottle dig EVER!
          He was looking for old hand blown rum bottles and was thoroughly unimpressed with this... until I made him an offer for it. I could have likely gotten it for free from him, but he’s a good guy who has given me the heads up on collections for sale before.

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          • #6
            Cool post Joshua...I love copper..having worked with it for 45 yrs as an electrician...thousands of tons if it went thru my hands....I like gold too though lol

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            • #7
              Outstanding ! Only the Spaniards knew all the art they destroyed like that in melting it down. I’ve read a lot about the Conquistadors , some were pro killers. One story in particular struck me as to how some of them would kill people all day long for days.. One story told of how many knew 500 ways to kill people without a weapon. All for gold which at times traded for salt.... Tragic.

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              • #8
                Very nice thanks for showing time to load the metal detectors and head south .

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                • #9
                  Thanks for adding to what I now know about Tumbaga, and for sharing those great artifacts.
                  Rhode Island

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                  • #10
                    And I can see why you like that partially melted piece so much. To actually see the artifact, and a frozen image of the process all those treasures went through, is just too cool for words! It would be one of my favorite pieces as well.
                    Rhode Island

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                    • #11
                      Very nice post and Artifacts .
                      Many of the books I read and have read really speak in volumes about what the Spanish did to the US as well as other islands and countries .
                      Books I read with illustration show Spanish features in the people another sign of their presence .
                      Every street in S Cal has a Spanish name as do some of the schools .
                      With no regret they killed and concurred the Aztec and Myans all for the lust of gold .
                      Dropping anchor in Fl they are dotted all over that state and the islands .
                      The Spanish In my mind were the first brutal explores
                      taking over all places of port .
                      Sorry had that discussion with someone last week , its still fresh .

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tam View Post
                        Very nice post and Artifacts .
                        Many of the books I read and have read really speak in volumes about what the Spanish did to the US as well as other islands and countries .
                        Books I read with illustration show Spanish features in the people another sign of their presence .
                        Every street in S Cal has a Spanish name as do some of the schools .
                        With no regret they killed and concurred the Aztec and Myans all for the lust of gold .
                        Dropping anchor in Fl they are dotted all over that state and the islands .
                        The Spanish In my mind were the first brutal explores
                        taking over all places of port .
                        Sorry had that discussion with someone last week , its still fresh .
                        Tam,

                        I won't try to excuse or dismiss what happened to the Aztec and the Mayans at the hands of the Spanish, but basically every population that has ever expanded/explored/colonized or settled new lands has had to deal with an existing population. And if the colonization was successful, the local population usually didn't fare well. The Spanish, the English, the French, the Portuguese, the Danes, the Russians, the Belgians, the Italians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Aborigines in Australia, even the Mayans, Aztecs, Sioux, Iroquois, Seminoles, and Navajo all took over lands where a previously existing people were largely assimilated or largely annihilated. Brutality, unfortunately, is a very human trait. If we as a species ever colonize a new planet, and there happens to be a weaker species there, history doesn't bode well for their long term wellbeing.

                        Joshua

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                        • Tam
                          Tam commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Agreed , I was a little relied up from that guy and was waiting for someone to calm me down . Thanks

                      • #13
                        I'll just leave this here..

                        "One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this," Hawking says in the documentary, referring to a potentially habitable alien world known as Gliese 832c. "But we should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn't turn out so well."... Stephen Hawking
                        If the women don\'t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

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                        • Tam
                          Tam commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Good point and we are going out there .

                      • #14
                        And, we're bringing gold for a change..
                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olLi...&start_radio=1

                        If the women don\'t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

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                        • #15
                          Beyond cool Joshua! those are really neat! thnks for educating me....again 😎

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