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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 4 (1) 2006

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S. Hall, D. Miller, M. Anderson & J. Boeyens

An exploratory study of copper and iron production at Marothodi, an early 19th century Tswana town, Rustenburg District, South Africa

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 4 (1), 2006, pages 3-35, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10061

Abstract
The archaeological evidence for iron and especially copper production at Marothodi indicates that output far exceeded local requirements. Preliminary analyses of slag and metal provide insight into the technical processes of this production, while well-resolved spatial data comment upon the social and cultural organization of production. In this paper we attempt to integrate both technical and social aspects of production into the regional historic context with a view to developing ideas about the contextual specificity of surplus metal production from Marothodi early in the 19th century. Generally, Marothodi was occupied in a period of increasingly competitive economic and political relationships between lineages. The evidence from Marothodi indicates that although copper ore quality was poor, and had been largely mined out by previous producers, it was clearly worthwhile to produce a surplus because of regional demands. Importantly, the Tlokwa elites at Marothodi had the regional power to do so. Furthermore, although the location of Marothodi was a compromise between several factors, we suggest that proximity to the copper ore sources was important. Spatial data suggest that political authority did not physically centralize copper production, and that most homesteads were independent producers.

Résumé
Les fouilles archéologiques montrent que la production du fer, et en particulier du cuivre, à Marothodi dépassait de loin les besoins locaux. Les analyses préliminaires des scories et des métaux permettent de se faire une idée des chaînes opératoires, tandis que la confrontation de données spatiales de sources diverses livre de précieuses données sur l'organisation sociale et culturelle de la production. Nous cherchons dans cette étude à faire coïncider les aspects techniques et sociaux de la production dans le contexte historique régional, afin de préciser la spécificité contextuelle de la production métallique excédentaire à Marothodi au début du dix-neuvième siècle. Marothodi a été occupé, en gros, pendant une période de compétition économique et politique de plus en plus accrue entre des lignées. Les fouilles à Marothodi montrent que, bien que le minerai de cuivre ait été de mauvaise qualité et que les producteurs antérieurs aient presque épuisé les ressources, la demande de la région justifiait un excédent de production. Il est important de noter que les élites Tlokwa à Marothodi avaient assez de pouvoir dans la région pour ce faire. En outre, bien que la situation géographique de Marothodi ait été le résultat d'un compromis, nous faisons l'hypothèse que la proximité des mines de cuivre fut un facteur important du choix du site. Les données spatiales montrent que la production de cuivre n'était pas spécialisée et que la plupart des foyers étaient des centres de production indépendants.




Keywords: copper, furnace, iron, mining, nickel, ore, refining, slag, smelting, tin, Tswana


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Jonathan R. Walz, USA

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Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
A. Catherine D'Andrea, Canada
Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
Elena Garcea, Italy
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
Timothy Insoll, UK
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David Killick, USA
Savino di Lernia, Italy
Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Belgium
Scott MacEachern, USA
David Mattingly, UK
Susan Keech McIntosh, USA
David W. Phillipson, UK
Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
Peter Robertshaw, USA
Robert Vernet, France
Lyn Wadley, South Africa

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Annabelle Gallin, France
Richard Byer, Germany

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