Early Metal Working in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of Recent Research

  title={Early Metal Working in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of Recent Research},
  author={Duncan Miller and Nikolaas van der Merwe},
  journal={The Journal of African History},
  pages={1 - 36}
This paper is a review of the course of research during the past decade into the history of indigenous metal working in sub-Saharan Africa. It comprises three sections: a summary of the chronology of early metallurgy and the spread of metal working; a description of African metal working in terms of mining, smelting and smithing, with particular emphasis on recent interpretations of the iron-smelting technology; and a conclusion summarizing the main developments and some lines of future enquiry… 
Pre-colonial mining in southern Africa
This paper summarizes indigenous mining methods used to collect metal ores in pre-colonial southern Africa, south of 15i?½S. These methods, for the purposes of discussion, are divided into sections
Pottery Production, Iron Working, and Trade in the Early Iron Age: The case of Dakawa, east-central Tanzania
The remains of a Late Stone Age and Early Iron Age occupation site at Dakawa on the Wami River, Tanzania (fig. l ) , were investigated archaeologically between 1992 and 1993. A preliminary
Origins and Development of Africa’s Preindustrial Mining and Metallurgy
One of the most perplexing but nevertheless unresolved socio-technological questions in the world orbits around the origins of African metallurgy, specifically in regions to the south of the Sahara
The origins of iron metallurgy in Africa : new light on its antiquity, West and Central Africa
● The work of the specialists – archaeologists, historians, ethnologists, sociologists and metallographical engineers – presented in this book bears witness to the energy of the research now being
A technological and anthropological study of iron production in Venda, Limpopo Province, South Africa
ABSTRACT This study investigates the technology and sociology of indigenous iron production in Venda, northern South Africa, within a framework of ethnographies, historical documents and
Metal Working in the Northern Lowveld, South Africa A.D. 1000–1890
Abstract The Iron Age archaeology of the northern Lowveld of South Africa is notable for the abundance of mining, metal working, and salt production sites recorded in the region. We report the
Patching up evidence for ironworking in the horn
Archaeological research on ironworking in the Horn of Africa is meager and patchy. This paper offers hypotheses for the origins of ironworking in the region. Two conventional schools of thought are
Did They or Didn't They Invent It? Iron in Sub-Saharan Africa
Judging from a number of recent publications, the long-running debate over the origins of iron smelting in sub-Saharan Africa has been resolved… in favor of those advocating independent invention.
Fuels for the Furnace
Metalworking places a very high demand on forest resources to provide fuel supplies, and environmental degradation has been associated with large-scale iron production in sub-Saharan Africa in the


Iron Age mining in the Transvaal
Mining was a widespread economic activity in the African Iron Age. This paper reviews the available evidence on, the archaeological, historical, ethnological, and technological aspects of early
On the alleged complexity of early and recent iron smelting in Africa: Further comments on the preheating hypothesis
In recent years, P. R. Schmidt and D. H. Avery have published a number of papers suggesting that the Early Iron Age inhabitants of what is now the Kagera Region of Tanzania developed an iron-smelting
Innovation and industry during the Early Iron Age in East Africa: the KM2 and KM3 sites of northwest Tanzania
Both developmental and diffusionist models for the growth and spread of iron technology in Africa are characterized by a surprising absence of scientific understanding of how that technology
Iron and Regional History: Report on a Research Project in Southwestern Tanzania
In 1979, after several years of preliminary research on the regional history of South Rukwa, I drew up a project proposal for an historical study of iron workers and agricultural systems. The project
Studies of the African Iron Age
The contribution the metallurgist can make to African Iron Age studies has been assessed by detailed investigation of the pre-industrial bloomery iron process still practiced by the Dimi people of
Tin mining and smelting in the Transvaal during the Iron Age
This paper reviews the historical, archaeological, and metallurgical evidence on Iron Age tin mining and tin smelting in Southern Africa. The results of the analysis of twenty samples of tin ore, tin
Summary. Contact between the Mediterranean in Roman or earlier times and the Sahara and lands beyond has commonly been examined from the northern angle with rather negative results (as for instance
Prehistoric mining in South Africa, and Iron Age copper mines in the Dwarsberg, Transvaal
The paper discusses the claim that the remains of mines in Southern Africa date from ancient times, rather than from a more modern period. The evidence indicates that these mines were excavated by
The first part of this work (Craddock 1985) critically examined the uses to which analyses of West African metalwork have been put and suggested other possible significance against the background of