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Journal Article

Bismuth Bronze from Machu Picchu, Peru

Robert B. Gordon and John W. Rutledge
New Series, Vol. 223, No. 4636 (Feb. 10, 1984), pp. 585-586
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Page Count: 2

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Topics: Bismuth, Bronzes, Copper, Tin, Alloys, Incan culture, Grain boundaries, Impurities, Smelting, Minerals
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The decorative bronze handle of a tumi excavated at the Inca city of Machu Picchu, Peru, contains 18 percent bismuth and appears to be the first known example of the use of bismuth with tin to make bronze. The alloy is not embrittled by the bismuth because the bismuth-rich constituent does not penetrate the grain boundaries of the matrix phase. The use of bismuth facilitates the duplex casting process by which the tumi was made and forms an alloy of unusual color.

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