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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 53–94 | Cite as

Innovation and industry during the Early Iron Age in East Africa: the KM2 and KM3 sites of northwest Tanzania

  • Peter R. Schmidt
  • S. Terry Childs
Article

Abstract

Both developmental and diffusionist models for the growth and spread of iron technology in Africa are characterized by a surprising absence of scientific understanding of how that technology developed. Heretofore there has been no basis for an assessment of the cultural and ecological factors that led to technical innovation in Iron Age Africa, for archaeological studies rarely go beyond descriptions of isolated smelting furnaces. Given the complex interaction of human labor, specialized cultural and technological knowledge, raw materials, and thermodynamics involved in smelting, it is not surprising that archaeologists have been slow to develop regional perspectives on iron technology. This paper provides a number of ways to redress past neglect by the study of iron production and innovation in an African region over which there is close chronological control. The new perspectives stress important indigenous innovations, analytical approaches applied to artifacts and structures, experiments on materials, and ethnoarchaeological observations. These are applicable throughout Africa and provide a foundation for understanding African technological innovation and the development and impact of a significant technology on Early Iron Age peoples.

Keywords

Technological Knowledge African Region Technical Innovation Human Labor Regional Perspective 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Résumé

Les modèles concernant le développement et l'extension de la technologie du fer en Afrique—que ce soit le modèle évolutionniste ou le modèle diffusionniste—se caractérisent tous les deux par un manque surprenant de compréhension de la manière dont cette technologie a évolué. Il n'y a jusqu'à présent, pas de base pour établir les facteurs culturels et écologiques qui ont mené aux inventions technologiques durant l'Age du Fer en Afrique, puisque les études archéologiques sont limitées à la description de fourneaux de fonte isolés. Etant donné le rapport complexe entre le travail humain, le savoir technique et culturel, les matières premières et la thermodynamique de la fonte du fer, il n'est pas étonnant que les archéologues n'aient développé que très lentement des perspectives régionales sur la technologie du fer. Ce rapport remédie à cette lacune antérieure en offrant une étude approfondie—avec une chronologie contrôlée—sur la production du fer et les innovations concernant cette production, dans une région de l'Afrique. Ces nouvelles perspectives mettent en évidence d'importantes innovations indigènes—donc africaines-ainsi que de nouvelles méthodes analytiques concernant les objets et les structures, des expérimentations sur le matériel trouvé, et des observations ethnoarchéologiques. Ces données sont valables pour toute l'Afrique et nous offrent une base pour la compréhension de l'innovation technologique en Afrique, de son développement et des répercussions que cette technologie importante a eues sur les populations de l'Age du Fer Ancien.

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Copyright information

© Cambridge University Press 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter R. Schmidt
  • S. Terry Childs

There are no affiliations available

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