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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. Chirikure & Th. Rehren

Iron smelting in pre-colonial Zimbabwe: evidence for diachronic change from Swart Village and Baranda, northern Zimbabwe

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 4 (1), 2006, pages 37-54, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10062

Abstract
In conventional reconstructions of southern African archaeology, the production of iron has been seen as unchanging for the last 2000 years. Significantly, this contrasts with the changes that have been noted in broader society and other classes of material culture of the same period. Despite iron being used as a chronostratigraphic indicator, virtually nothing is known on the patterns of iron production within the Iron Age and whether change in technology and the socio-cultural context of production took place. From a combined archaeological and metallurgical perspective, the historical development of iron working has never been explored. For example, it is not known whether similar types of furnaces were constantly operated throughout the last two millennia. Excavations at two sites in northern Zimbabwe, one Gokomere-Ziwa (800 - 1200 cal AD) and one Zimbabwe tradition (1500 - 1700 cal AD), have shown differences in iron pyrometallurgical debris, tentatively suggesting that they represent separate metal working practices. By comparing the archaeological and metallurgical evidence from the two sites, this paper represents an initial step in delineating patterns of indigenous iron production in one region of Zimbabwe.

Résumé
Les reconstitutions archéologiques établies en Afrique du Sud considèrent que la production du fer est inchangée depuis 2000 ans. Ceci contraste de manière significative avec les changements observés dans des sociétés plus conséquentes et pour d'autres types de matériaux datant de la même période. En dépit du fait que le fer est utilisé comme indicateur chrono-stratigraphique, nous n'avons littéralement aucune connaissance concernant les modèles liés à sa production durant l'Age de Fer et nous ignorons si des changements dans la technologie employée et dans le contexte socioculturel de la production du fer ont eu lieu. Le développement historique de l'exploitation du fer n'a jamais été étudié d'un point de vue à la fois archéologique et métallurgique. Par exemple, nous ne savons pas si des fours semblables ont été utilisés de manière continue au cours des deux derniers millénaires. Des fouilles réalisées au nord du Zimbabwe sur deux sites différents, l'un de tradition Gokomere-Ziwa (800-1200 cal AD) et l'autre de tradition Zimbabwe (1500-1700 cal AD), ont montré des différences au niveau des débris pyro-métallurgiques du fer, suggérant, provisoirement, des pratiques d'exploitation du métal indépendantes. En comparant les vestiges archéologiques et métallurgiques de ces deux sites, cet article représente un premier pas vers la description des modèles de production autochtone du fer dans une région du Zimbabwe.




Keywords: Gokomere-Ziwa, iron working remains, natural draft, slag tapping, tuyeres, Zimbabwe tradition


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Editorial Board

Editors:
Sonja Magnavita, Peter Breunig, Sam Nixon

Book Reviews Editor:
Jonathan R. Walz, USA

Editorial Advisory Board:
Graham Connah, Australia
Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
A. Catherine D'Andrea, Canada
Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
Elena Garcea, Italy
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
Timothy Insoll, UK
Tom Huffman, South Africa
Eric Huysecom, Switzerland
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

Copy Editors:
Nikolas Gestrich, UK
Gaby Franke, Germany
Annabelle Gallin, France
Richard Byer, Germany

Editorial Assistance:
Anna Rybar, Germany
Carlos Magnavita, Germany


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