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Smelting without Ceramics: The Drierivier Copper Smelting Site near Rehoboth, Namibia

Duncan Miller and Beatrice Sandelowsky
The South African Archaeological Bulletin
Vol. 54, No. 169 (Jun., 1999), pp. 28-37
DOI: 10.2307/3889137
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3889137
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Smelting without Ceramics: The Drierivier Copper Smelting Site near Rehoboth, Namibia
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Abstract

An indigenous copper smelting technique which successfully reduced ores to metallic copper without the use of clay ceramic tuyères or clay furnaces was employed in central Namibia, perhaps until the mid-nineteenth century. Carved stone tuyères were used in conjunction with pit furnaces or box furnaces built out of stone slabs. Stone tuyères have been found at numerous locations in central Namibia and as far south as Bethanien but the lack of baked clay structures means that the preservation of the associated furnaces is rare. This paper describes the archaeometallurgical investigation of the remains of a pit furnace excavated in 1970 near Rehoboth, Namibia. We describe the smelting process used, compare this furnace to other indications of copper production in central Namibia, and discuss the significance of this apparently unique technology in the light of the regional archaeological record. An appendix describes the metallographic studies carried out to support our interpretations of this technology.

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