The Theft of Cultural Property in Bolivia: the absence of metal detectors
Yates, D. (2013), ‘The Theft of Cultural Property in Bolivia: the absence of metal detectors’, AP: Arqueología Publica 3: 10–13.
It seems surprising at first that the popularity of metal detecting has not spread to much of South America. The pre-Conquest cultures of the Andes are, perhaps, best known for their metal work. Furthermore, throughout the Colonial and into the Republican periods, the region was extensively mined for a number of metals, most notably silver, and Bolivia was a centre of coin production. Despite the potential for metal detector finds, nearly no reports exist of metal detectors being used on Bolivian archaeological and historic sites.
In this piece, I will offer some reasons of why I think that illicit metal detecting is not a significant problem in Bolivia, followed by a discussion of the type of looting of metal heritage objects that the region does experience.