The paper looked at the great silver mine of Potosí as a space of layered values in the colonial period. The mountain was extensively mined for monetary wealth after conquest but had long held sacred and possibly political meaning in the Andes. The silver mountain's place in the longer history of the Andean landscape can be discussed even within the time period during which it became a symbol of astounding wealth for the Spanish Empire. While its silver riches became a source of monetary value for Europe and a measure of colonial exploitation, the value of silver for Andeans was simultaneously understood in terms of a native politico-religious arc that overlapped the Spanish age of empire. Among subjects the paper touches on are numinous mountains, sacred power invested in rocks and mineral ores, and ideas about European and Native Andean interactions with nature, where relational identity or the way natural and human entities create connections with one another becomes a matrix for culture.
Image: Anonymous. Vírgen-Cerro. 1730. Oil on linen. Museo de la Casa Nacional de Moneda, Potosí.