The project aims to incorporate archive and archeological sources to examine the role of the Crisis of the seventeenth century in an artery of the empire by the Hispanic Monarchy’s control. A focus on the role of the different local agents will allow an analysis of the potential rise of regional and Pacific trade, to the detriment of Atlantic trade or, at least, of the Atlantic trade controlled by the Monarchy. From the foundation of Sants María la Antigua del Darién in 1513 until the destruction of the Old Panamá in 1671, persons, animals, and products from the four continents came together in the nexus that connected two seas. The ports and the colonial settlements would become centers for the exchange of the goods, as well as for culture and conflict management exchange, that offers new perspectives on such important processes as Early Globalization and the first global crisis.

These transformations will be analyzed as divergent processes, whose destructive aspects created opportunities both for personal enrichment and social advancement. The work will be carried out crossing archeological data obtained in the excavations in Sta. Mª la Antigua del Darién, Old Panamá, Nombre de Dios and Portobelo, with others extracted from Archivo General de Indias and Archivo de la Cámara de Comercio in Seville. Thus, a dynamic vision of Early Globalization may be shaped, focused on economic and cultural processes that include the development of new Creole industries, exportations of their products, as well as the increase and uprising of Indigenous and African communities, the reconfiguration of the slaves’ site after 1640 and the penetration of foreign merchants in the area.
The strategic importance of the Panamanian isthmus makes that artery of the Empire an ideal laboratory for studying African and indigenous agents, as well as Portuguese, Genoese, English, and Dutch incursions in the area. At the heart of this proposal, the 3C database is placed, designed to include historical and archeological information at the three analytical levels; trade, conflict, and material culture. These conceptual axes are the three foundations relating to the moment of the Seventeenth-century crisis, recently included in a global framework by one of the group’s members, Geoffrey Parker. The local transformations resulting from the global crisis at the isthmus and the consequent opportunities for different groups, especially for African and indigenous women and European foreigns, may shed light on diverse and creative answers facing the crisis. The database will facilitate a continuous exchange of the results obtained through different researches, proposed for promoting its higher contrast, scope, and contextualization.

The project’s social, diplomatic, and cultural value will be made up of international meetings, followed by its results’ publication and spreading. The most important impact of the publication will be carried out through the 3C database on the Internet before 19 August 2019, on the 500th anniversary of the foundation of Old Panama.

Director: Bethany Aram

Website of the project