Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Ann Miles

Second Advisor

Dr. Catherine J. Julien

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary Van Buren

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Porco, Bolivia, is known as the source of silver which ornamented the Inca temple of Coricancha, and as the seat of the earliest Spanish mining operations in the Andes. The colonial silver processing site of Ferro Ingenio, on the outskirts of Porco, is comprised of domestic and industrial structures, constructed and used over multiple occupations. Ferro Ingenio is the best preserved and most complete site of its kind in the Porco region and the first Andean stamp-mill ever to be excavated. This investigation uses ethnohistorical and archaeological evidence to examine the organization and the changing social roles of colonial labor. I seek to understand these political and economic dynamics through an exploration of the place of Potosi's silver mining region in the burgeoning global economy of the first century of Spanish colonialism in the Andes. Contributing to the field of Andean historical archaeology, Ferro Ingenio provides a glimpse into the complex dynamics of labor and empire in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.