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Mexican Copper Tools_ The Use of Copper by the Mexicans Before the Conquest; and The Katunes of Maya History, a Chapter in the Early History of Central America, With Special Reference to the Pio Perez Manuscript.

Mexican Copper Tools_ The Use of Copper by the Mexicans Before the Conquest; and The Katunes of Maya History, a Chapter in the Early History of Central America, With Special Reference to the Pio Perez Manuscript.
Title: Mexican Copper Tools_ The Use of Copper by the Mexicans Before the Conquest; and The Katunes of Maya History, a Chapter in the Early History of Central America, With Special Reference to the Pio Perez Manuscript.
Release Date: 2018-09-24
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

With Special Reference to the Pio Perez Manuscript.

[Translated from the German, by Stephen Salisbury, Jr.]
[Proceedings of American Antiquarian Society, April 29, and October 21, 1879.]


Mexican Copper Tools 5
The Katunes of Maya History 45
Note by Committee of Publication 47
  Introductory Remarks 49
  The Maya Manuscript and Translation 52
  History of the Manuscript 55
  Elements of Maya Chronology 60
  Table of the 20 Days of the Maya Month 62
  Table of the 18 Months of the Maya Year 63
  Table of Maya Months and Days 64
  Translation of the Manuscript by Señor Perez 75
  Discussion of the Manuscript 77
  Concluding Remarks 92
  Sections of the Perez Manuscript Expressed in Years 96
  Table of Maya Ahaues Expressed in Years 100
  Results of the Chronological Investigation 102


Copper Axes in the Arms of Tepoztla, Tepoztitla And Tepozcolula 12
Copper Axes, the Tribute of Chilapa 13
Copper Axes and Bells, the Tribute of Chala 14
Mexican Goldsmith Smelting Gold 18
Yucatan Copper Axes 30
Copper Chisel Found in Oaxaca 33
Mexican Carpenter’s Hatchet 35
Copper Axe of Tepozcolula 36
Copper Axe of Tlaximaloyan 36
Copper Tool, Found by Dupaix in Oaxaca 37
Maya Ahau Katun Wheel 72
Map Showing the Movement of the Mayas, As Stated In The Manuscript 78
Yucatan Axe, From Landa 17
Indian Battle Axe, From Oviedo 19


By Philipp J. J. Valentini, Ph.D.
[From the German, by Stephen Salisbury, Jr.]
[From Proceedings of American Antiquarian Society, April 30, 1879.]

The subject of prehistoric copper mining, together withthe trade in the metal and the process of its manufactureinto implements and tools by the red men of North America,has engaged the attention of numerous investigators.

It was while listening to an interesting paper on prehistoriccopper mining at Lake Superior, read by Prof. ThomasEgleston before the Academy of Sciences, of New York,March 9, 1879, that the writer was reminded of a numberof notes which he had made, some time previous, on thesame subject. These notes, however, covered a departmentof research not included in the lecture of that evening.They were collected in order to secure all the materialextant in relation to the copper products of Mexico andCentral America. Nevertheless, this treatment of a subjectso germain to ours, could not help imparting an impulse to arapid comparison of the results of our own studies withthose of others. It brought to light striking agreements,as well as disagreements, which existed in connectionwith the copper industries of the two widely separatedraces. On the one hand it appeared that both of theseancient people were unacquainted with iron; both weretrained to the practise of war, and, strange to say, both hadinvariably abstained from shaping copper into any implementof war, the metal being appropriated solely to the usesof peace.

But, on the other hand, whilst the northern red man attainedto his highest achievement in the production of the6axe, the native of Central America could boast of importantadditions to his stock of tools. He possessed copperimplements for tilling the fields, and knew the uses of thechisel. Besides, when he wished to impart to the copper adefinite form, he showed a superior ingenuity. The northernIndian simply took a stone, and by physical force hammeredthe metal into the required shape. But the skilledworkman of Tecoatega and Tezcuco, subjecting the nativecopper to the heat of the furnace, cast the woodcutter’s axein a mould, as well as the bracelets and the fragile earringsthat adorned the princesses of Motezuma.

Therefore, in view of the recently increasing interestshown in archæological circles, respecting everything relatingto Mexico, the writer deemed it worth while to revisethe notes referred to.

As to the fact that the early Mexicans used instrumentsof copper, there can be no doubt. The brevity of the statementsrespecting these instruments is nevertheless very perplexing.The accounts of the Spanish chroniclers, indeed,afford a certain degree of satisfaction, but they leave uswith a desire for fuller information. We should have feltmore grateful to these authorities if, out of the thousandand more chapters devoted to the glorious deeds of the“Castellanos and Predicadores,” they had written one inwhich they had introduced us to the Mexican work-shop,exhibiting the weaver, the paper-maker, the carpenter, thegoldsmith, and the sculptor, and initiating us into thedevices and methods respectively employed; describing theform and shape of the tools they used, and giving an accountof all those little details which are indispensable forachieving any technical or artistical results.

Yet, as it exists, the desired information is incomplete,and, for the present at least, we can only deplore its brevity.In looking for aid from other quarters we feel still moreperplexed. No specimen of any copper or bronze tool, apparently,has been preserved, and we are thus prevented7from determining whether the axes or chisels mentioned bythe Spanish authors were of the same shape as ours, orwhether the natives had contrived to give them a peculiarshape of their own. Finally, no definite hint is givenwhether the kind of copper metal, which they called “brassor bronze,” was copper with the natural admixtures of gold,silver, tin, or other tempering elements, or whether theMexicans had themselves discovered the devices of hardening,and combined the elements in due conventional proportions.

All these questions are of the highest interest, and claiman answer. Our most renowned authorities for Mexicanarchæology and history, Humboldt, Prescott and Brasseurde Bourbourg,[1] pass over this subject without giving anydesired satisfaction. They do not go much farther than torepeat the statements furnished by the writers in thesame language as they received them.

These early statements will form the principal portion ofthe material out of which we weave the text of our discussion.In order that the reader may be better prepared toenter into our reasoning and judge of the correctness of ourconclusions, we shall, in translation, place the statementsof these authors below the text, in the form of foot-notes;though, in cases where it is believed that the reader maydesire to see the originals, the Spanish text is given.Considerable help has been derived from a source hithertovery little consulted, that of the native paintings, whichrepresent copper implements. As will be seen, they makeup, to a certain extent, for the deficiency of the latter incollections. The cuts we give are of the same size as thosewe find copied in the Kingsborough Collection.

8We shall speak first of those localities whence the nativesprocured their copper and their tin; secondly, of the mannerin which they used to melt metals; thirdly, considerwhether the metal was moulded or hammered; and fourthly,discuss the various forms into which their tools appear tohave been shaped.

That the natives of the New World collected and workedother metals besides gold and silver, seems to have becomeknown to the Spaniards only after their entrance into thecity of Mexico, A.D. 1521. During the first epoch, inwhich the West India Islands and the Atlantic coasts ofSouth and Central America were explored and conquered,no specimen of utensils, tools or weapons, made of brass orcopper, was discovered to be in the possession of the inhabitants.So also in Yucatan, Tlascalla, and on the highplateau of Anahuac, where mechanics and industry werefound to have a home, and where the native warriorexhibited his person in the most gorgeous military attire,their swords, javelins, lances and arrows, showed that concerningthe manufacture of arms they had, so to speak, notyet emerged from the Stone-Age. And finally, when brass,copper, tin, and even lead, were seen exposed for sale in thestalls of the market-place of Mexico, it was noticed to thegreat astonishment of the conquerors, that these metalshad exclusively served the natives for the manufacture ofmere instruments of peace.

The Spanish leader communicates these facts to

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