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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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F. Willett & E.V. Sayre

Lead isotopes in West African copper alloys

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 4 (1), 2006, pages 55-90, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10063

Abstract
Stable lead isotopes have been measured from copper-alloy castings dating from the late first millennium AD to the 19th Century from Igbo Ukwu, Ife, Jenne, Marandet, Ma'aden Ijâfen, Benin, the Lower Niger sites on the Forcados and Cross Rivers, the Andoni Creek and Apapa, and from Jebba, Tada and Owo. More recent ethnographic specimens from West Africa were also examined as well as a number of African ores. We conclude that the earliest metals (copper, tin, and perhaps lead) came from African sources, but that Northern Europe became the main source of supply early in the second Millennium, initially by trade across the Sahara, but also by the coast from around the middle of the second Millennium.

Résumé
Les premiers isotopes stables ont été mesurés sur des moulages d'alliage de cuivre datant de la fin du premier millénaire AD au dix-neuvième siècle sur les sites d'Igbo Ukwu, Ife, Jenne, Marandet, Ma'aden Ijâfen, Bénin, les sites du bas Niger sur les rivières Forcados et Croix, la Crique d'Andoni, Apapa, Jebba, Tada et Owo. Des spécimens ethnographiques, et donc plus récents, d'Afrique de l'ouest ont également été examinés ainsi que plusieurs minerais africains. Nous concluons de cette étude que les métaux les plus anciens (le cuivre, l'étain, et peut-être le plomb) proviennent de gisements africains, mais que l'Europe septentrionale est devenue la source principale d'approvisionnement tôt durant le deuxième millénaire, d'abord grâce au commerce au travers du Sahara, puis le long des côtes aux alentours de la moitié du second millénaire.




Keywords: Akan, Andoni Creek, Apapa, Ashanti, Benin, Cross River, Forcados River, Ife, Igbo Ukwu, Jebba, Jenne, Lower Niger, Ma'aden Ijâfen, Marandet, Owo, Tada, Tsoede, West Africa


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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
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

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