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INDIGENOUS IRON PRODUCTION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA: ARCHAEOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS AND INTERPRETATION

Duncan Miller
Mediterranean Archaeology
Vol. 14, The Origins of Iron Metallurgy: Proceedings of the First International Colloquium on The Archaeology of Africa and the Mediterranean Basin held at The Museum of Natural History in Geneva, 4–7 June, 1999 / Aux origines de la metallurgie du fer: Actes de la 1ère Table ronde internationale d'archéologie L'Afrique et le bassin méditerranéen Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle Genève, 4–7 juin 1999 (2001), pp. 229-234
Published by: Meditarch
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24668006
Page Count: 6
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INDIGENOUS IRON PRODUCTION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA: ARCHAEOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS AND INTERPRETATION
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Abstract

This paper summarizes what is known about indigenous iron production and use in southern Africa, documents the remarkable uniformity in iron fabrication technology since its introduction some 2,000 years ago, and discusses the interpretation of this information. We need to establish a factual archaeological basis to rectify historical misrepresentations of indigenous achievement, but at the same time we must avoid glamorizing the past in response to the often self-serving political preoccupations of various stakeholders in this knowledge. The problem of communicating archaeological reconstructions within a politically charged social environment is by no means unique to archaeological studies of African iron production, but the apparent uniformity and stability of indigenous ferrous metal fabrication technology over the past 2,000 years in southern Africa makes this a challenging example.

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