Theodoor de Bry’s depiction of the Spanish silver mines in…

Theodoor de Bry’s depiction of the Spanish silver mines in Potosi, Bolivia, 1596. The mines, founded in 1545, extracted silver from the world’s largest deposit. The silver was then sent up the Pacific coast, across Panama, and then on to Europe, where it fueled massive military spending in Spain and, inevitably, terrible inflation. Native American were first forced to work in the mines – as they began to die off from disease and terrible working conditions, thousands of slaves were imported from Africa to dig the silver as well.