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Ok-Goose-6320 OP t1_j62s89y wrote

AFAIK, the Mexica peoples had the same issue, only making a limited number of axes a bit before European contact, never working out a good bronze industry. Presumably because their fires weren't hot enough to reliably cast high quality bronze. Probably similar to the iron industry during the bronze age, where they were more like rare, magical weapons. Developing a proper bronze industry would likely make a big difference, being a huge economical advantage.

With the Mississippi, current estimate is they collapsed before Columbus even set foot on Cuba, so European diseases don't seem to be the cause. A bronze industry at some point in their history could probably turn that around. It could even be an inciting incident, causing them to resort to war with a material advantage, creating a riverine empire.


It may not change things much in the grand scheme of things, but they may also put up a much tougher fight against European incursion and lead to an interesting story. Especially since I'm thinking of incorporating other alternate history elements.

Wondered if you'd be interested in discussing it further.


War_Hymn t1_j646hrz wrote

I don't see how having bronze tools or weapons would had protect them from germs that they had little immunity to. Before the Spanish even stepped foot in the Incan Empire, smallpox and other Old World diseases had already spread via regional trade network and killed millions of their subjects (including the Incan emperor himself). The reduction in population and the political turmoil it caused was enough to weaken this powerful state to a point where a couple hundred Spanish conquistadors was able to conquer it.

Even if they managed to kill every European they laid eyes on, these diseases would had eventually depleted their population and weaken their political/economic systems enough that the next wave of Europeans would eventually succeed in taking over.

>Presumably because their fires weren't hot enough to reliably cast high quality bronze.

Except they were casting copper or arsenic bronze (they never figured out tin-bronze) before the Europeans arrived. They just didn't have a lot of copper deposits, so stone tools were more economical and widespread.


Ok-Goose-6320 OP t1_j65l8vw wrote

The Inca still had countless warriors, 80K of them directly with king Atahualpa (though he only had 5,000 unarmed men when he was captured). It took many years of fighting to subdue the Inca despite great providence. It certainly wasn't a boring war.

All the same, I do have some ideas for alternate history regarding disease.


West Mexican art has been found with large amounts of tin in it, though as I said I'm not sure what the quality was like for a tool. If you make an art object, it's fine for it to have air-bubbles and defects you can smooth away at the surface level, but a tool is liable to break. I wouldn't expect availability to be the problem, since the Americas is one of the most abundant sources of copper on Earth. The Zapotec were well known for their copper deposits, and Mexico became one of the greatest producers of copper later on. Tin was also available.

Apparently, copper and bronze smelting was only coming into its own around the 15th century, just before Europeans arrived. If so, it may be that there just wasn't time to develop a bronze industry. It's also plausible the overly high tin, 23%, in that find may've been intentional, to reduce the necessary temperature.


Apparently the Tarascan may've used bronze weapons, and even breastplates, against the Aztecs. Also, despite there being no iron forges, apparently some Aztec chiefs had daggers made of meteoric iron:

So I guess the Tarascan had gotten a healthy bronze age empire going, and were ahead of the others. Perhaps they had factors helping them get ahead.