The Collaborative International Dictionary
Guanin \Gua"nin\, n. (Physiol. Chem.) A crystalline substance ( C5H5N5O) contained in guano. It is also a constituent of the liver, pancreas, and other glands in mammals.
n. (context biochemistry English) guanine
- redirect Guanín
In the Taino culture of the Antilles, a guanín (pronounced gua-NIN) meaning "The Noble of Nobles" was a badge of honor of tribal leadership and authority, worn by the Caciques (chiefs) and by the Nitaino (nobility). It was a small disc that could be worn around the neck or some other part of the body. The brightness of the metal indicated that the leader had a connection with spiritual powers.
It was made of a mixture of gold and copper. Flakes of gold were extracted from rivers, and pounded with rocks until they merged together. The origin of smelting the gold with copper is not clear.
It is a common misconception that pre-Columbian Americas lacked bronze and thus were not able to deploy hardened copper alloys. However, copper alloys are reported as guanín by Columbus, a loan word borrowed from the Taino. This misconception may well arise because tin, the common component of Eurasian bronze (although common in Bolivia), is rare in the Caribbean basin.
Notwithstanding, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, chromium, cobalt and zinc mixed into a matrix of iron sulfides and other metal sulfides including gold, cobalt and nickel are readily available, often glittering in as natural ores such as pyrite (fool's gold), the brassy golden yellow cubanite, and marcasite. Deposits of these ores are found on the surfaces of the formerly submerged karst rock formations of these islands.
Guanín may alternatively have been a manganese bronze. Today US " gold dollars" are made of an alloy of 88.5% copper, 6% zinc, 3.5% manganese and 2% nickel, which may be similar to guanin, although nickel would not have been included in guanin due to its high melting point.
Columbus's report of metal axes in lands and seas of the Caribbean, although viewed skeptically by some, cannot be readily dismissed. In this aforecited article, authors attribute this bronze to the Mayans. One might bear in mind the Mayans were trading contacts with the Taínos who used the word guanín to describe the copper-gold alloys they used for ornamental and religious purposes. Additionally there were readily available natural deposits of the necessary ores (see above) in the Major Antilles. The existence of Pre-Columbian era metal tools in the Americas is now considered academic and historical "fact", although the question remains as to which ethnicities, nations or civilizations used these objects. Thus classification of Taíno technological progress as merely Neolithic may well be an misinterpretation awaiting archeological resolution of Taíno use of guanín alloy tools.
Guanín may refer to:
- Guanín (Taíno)
- Guanín (bronze)