Potosi: Overview

As the story goes, Potosí was discovered Cerro de Potosi (Potosi Mountain)by two native Andeans transporting food from Cochabamba to the mines of Porco. These men, guayradores, who smelted silver, traveled on a route that took them past the foot of Cerro Rico (rich hill). At precisely this point in the journey one of their freight llamas strayed from the rest. The man known as Guallpa chased the llama up the slopes of the mountain only to stumble onto a huge outcropping of silver. He discretely replaced the llama’s load of food with silver and rejoined his companion. For several months Guallpa returned to the mountain, took the ore, and refined it for himself. This later led to the discovery and establishment of Potosí and its mountain full of silver, which provided the Spaniards with riches.

The Spaniards first entered the territory that is now Bolivia in 1535, but they did not fight any precious metals that they were looking for. Ten years later, the Spanish discovered the silver in Potosí and quickly relocated to that location. Potosí was officially established by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572, although it served as an urban-industrial center since 1545, the year in which rich veins of silver were discovered. The Viceroy Diego Lopez de Zúñiga y Velasco, Conde de Nieva, decreed that the city was to be called the Villa Imperial de Potosí. Potosí quickly became one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the Spanish Empire by the mid 17th century with a population of 160,000 people.

This webpage will research how advanced technology affected the boom in silver production and how this boom subsequently shaped the demographics in Potosi.

6 thoughts on “Potosi: Overview

  1. Great visuals! I think this is a topic that can particularly benefit from visuals, and your website helped make the city and mine come alive. I also liked how you started off the introduction page with the “myth” of Potosi- great use of a cool story that is then used to lead to more factual information.

  2. I think the combination of mining technology and demographics combined with the visual media did an excellent job of illuminating the nature of the city during the colonial era. The two topics mutually fed each other and reinforced the importance of silver and the things needed to extract it in creating the growth Potosi witnessed.

  3. The amount of information you’ve made available here is impressive. I am shocked that even from such an early period so much is known and documented about Potosi. This says a lot about the Iberian colonial culture of the time. Your website feels appropriate for the city of Potosi – even the coloration. The choice of mining and demographics as the main focuses of the website also make a great deal of sense given the nature of the city.

  4. I like the simple design of your site, it is very intuitive to use and the information is well-researched and nicely presented. I also liked how you connected the past with the present with the video of the modern day process of amalgamation and hydraulics.

  5. I really enjoyed this webpage. I like the minimalistic, clean design and the fact that the design of the webpage doesn’t take away from the content. I like how the blocks of text were broken up with interspersed pictures, charts, and maps. These visuals really added to the text and helped to break up the reading. Both sections were very interesting and it was cool to see some of the connections between mining technology and demographics.

  6. I think this web page was very well done. It gives a nice overview of Potosi and the technology that helped mine it. It gave me a better understanding of the city and gave good visuals to better explain the information.

Leave a Reply