Metallic Reflections

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Science  06 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5391, pp. 1058-1059
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5391.1058

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A study of the ways that different cultures use and value metalwork offers an extraordinary opportunity for comparing civilizations. In his Perspective, Quilter discusses results described in the same issue by Burger and Gordon, in which the authors report finding evidence for the earliest metallurgy in the New World. Fragments of cold-hammered copper foil were found at Mina Perdida in Peru, in a form that suggests the metal was used as a reflective covering for other objects. As Quilter comments, a more rushed excavation might have overlooked these small fragments, whereas the authors' careful and patient approach has led to an important discovery.

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