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A Maya metal-worker's tool from Belize

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015


The civilizations of prehispanic America never advanced technologically beyond the early bronze age: although both the Inca and the Aztec had tools and some weapons of cast bronze, the warriors that fought Cortes used swords edged with obsidian blades. The Classic Maya, who flourished in the first millennium AD, had only a casual acquaintance with metal until the ninth century (Bray, 1977) and raised the great temples of Tikal with an engineering capability no greater than that of the builders of Stonehenge.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd. 1982

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