The Santa Rita B archaeological site is in the Chao Valley, approximately 65 km southeast of Trujillo, northern Peru. Location of Santa Rita B at the emergence of several drainages from the Andean cordillera is an important factor in the almost continuous occupation of the site over the past 3,000 years.
Mineral resources are abundant throughout the Andes; however, the north coast of Peru was an important center for pre-Columbian mining, metallurgy, and craftsmanship. Success of the Chavin, Moche, Chimu, and other north coast cultures is directly related to the availability and exploitation of mineral and energy resources that include: gold (?silver), as electrum, mainly from placers, and copper from local oxide and carbonate occurrences and from sulfides related to copper porphyry occurrences in the cordillera. An alloy of these three metals is referred to as tumbaga, which is the primary material for Andean metalcraft.
Anthracite was used for mirrors by north coast cultures and is available near Rio Chicama, Rio Santa, and east of Santa Rita B. These outcrops are a part of the Alto Chicama, Peru's largest coalfield, which extends from Rio Chicama, in the north, for 200 km southward to Rio Santa. Charcoal from the algorrobo tree and llama dung are considered to be the common pre-Columbian energy sources for cooking and metalwork; however, availability and the higher heat content of anthracite indicate that it was used in metallurgical applications. Bitumen is available from petroleum seeps near Talara, north of the study area, and may have been used as glue or as cement.
Hematite, goethite, limonite, and manganese oxides from clay-altered volcanic rock may have provided color and material for ceramics. Guano from the Islas Gua?apes, Chinchas, and Ballestas was used as fertilizer for cotton and other crops.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Mineral, Energy, and Fertilizer Resources of the North Coast of Peru: Perspective from the Santa Rita B Archaeological Site