Study finds shoelace tags better than gold

Oct 03, 2006

A British study finds the device that prevents shoelaces from fraying was more valuable than gold to indigenous Cubans who traded with Columbus's fleet.

Archaeologists at University College London analyzed material from one of the largest burial sites in northeast Cuba. To their surprise very little gold was discovered, despite its relative abundance in the region. Instead, the most common artifacts were small metal tubes made of brass that were often threaded onto necklaces.

While brass making was widespread in medieval and earlier Europe, no evidence exists of brass production in America by indigenous people in the Caribbean -- known as Taíno -- before the arrival of the Europeans. Using microstructural and chemical analysis, the researchers were able to prove the brass originated in Germany.

Columbus's 1492 Spanish fleet was the first European presence to arrive in Cuba and radiocarbon dating shows remains from the burial site at El Chorro de Maíta, Cuba, date from a few decades after the conquest. Columbus's diaries also mention the trade of "lacetags."

The research appears in the November edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Scientists conclude sun-powered boat trip to find Europe's oldest village

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Danish museum discovers unique gift from Charles Darwin

23 minutes ago

The Natural History Museum of Denmark recently discovered a unique gift from one of the greatest-ever scientists. In 1854, Charles Darwin – father of the theory of evolution – sent a gift to his Danish ...

Watching others play video games is the new spectator sport

52 minutes ago

As the UK's largest gaming festival, Insomnia, wrapped up its latest event on August 25, I watched a short piece of BBC Breakfast news reporting from the festival. The reporter and some of the interviewees appeared baff ...

Recommended for you

Oldest representative of a weird arthropod group

Aug 28, 2014

Biologists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have assigned a number of 435-million-year-old fossils to a new genus of predatory arthropods. These animals lived in shallow marine habitats ...

Bronze Age wine cellar found

Aug 27, 2014

A Bronze Age palace excavation reveals an ancient wine cellar, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Andrew Koh from Brandeis University and colleagues.

User comments : 0