The Use of Gold and Other Metals among Ancient Inhabitants of Chiriqui, Isthmus of Darien

The Use of Gold and Other Metals among Ancient Inhabitants of Chiriqui, Isthmus of Darien

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The Use of Gold and Other Metals among Ancient Inhabitants of Chiriqui, Isthmus of Darien

The Use of Gold and Other Metals among Ancient Inhabitants of Chiriqui, Isthmus of Darien

Read FREE!

Excerpt

BYWILLIAM H. HOLMES.

GENERAL DISCUSSION.

Until comparatively recent times the province of Chiriqui has remained almost unknown to the world at large. The Isthmus was traversed a number of times by the conquerors, who published accounts of their discoveries, but it was reserved for the period of railroad and canal explorations to give trustworthy accounts of its character and inhabitants.

The situation of Chiriqui is unique. Forming, politically, a part of South America, it belongs in reality to the North American continent. It occupies a part of the great southern flexure of the Isthmus at a point where the shore lines begin finally to turn toward the north, Costa Rica lies to the west and the province of Veragua bounds it upon the east.

The antiquarian literature of the province is extremely limited, being confined to brief sketches, based for the most part upon the testimony of transient visitors, gold hunters, and Government explorers, who took but little note of the unpretentious relies of past ages. As there are few striking monuments, the attention of archæologists was not called to the primeval history of man in this region, and until recently the Isthmus was supposed to have remained practically unoccupied by that group of cultured nations whose works in Peru and Mexico excite the wonder of the world. But, little by little, it has come out that at some period of the past the province was thickly populated and by races possessed of no mean culture. One of the most important additions to our knowledge of the province and its archæologic treasures is furnished in the manuscript notes of Mr. J. A. McNiel, who made the greater part of the collection now deposited in the National Museum. This explorer has personally supervised the examination of many thousands of graves and has forwarded the bulk of his collections to the United States. His explorations have occupied a number of years, during which time he has undergone much privation and has displayed much enthusiasm in pursuing the rather thorny pathway of scientific research.

At the present time this district is inhabited chiefly by Indians and natives of mixed blood, who carry on grazing and agriculture to a limited extent, but subsist largely upon the natural products of the country. These people are generally thought to have no knowledge or . . .

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