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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 183–208 | Cite as

Between bloomery and blast furnace: Mafa iron-smelting technology in North Cameroon

  • Nicholas David
  • Robert Heimann
  • David Killick
  • Michael Wayman
Article

Abstract

The re-enactment of a smelt in a Mafa down-draft furnace produced cast iron in addition to steel and low-carbon iron. Further processing of these products in a forge to decarburize the high-carbon materials resulted in forgeable, weldable steel quite suitable for the manufacture of traditional implements. This is the first documented case of an indirect iron smelting process from Africa. The ethnographic account is accompanied by a description of the technical aspects of the transformation of ore into steel, based upon chemical and microscopic analyses of the ore and of the metallic, slag and ceramic products and byproducts. Estimates of iron production and charcoal consumption under traditional conditions are offered, and the continuous Mafa process is contrasted with the batch process reported for the Sukur and Marghi.

Keywords

Charcoal Cast Iron Blast Furnace Weldable Steel Documented Case 
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

La reconstitution d'une fonte utilisant un haut fourneau mafa dont la particularité est l'arrivée de l'air par le haut, a produit de la vraie fonte en sus de l'acier et du fer pauvre en carbone. Un traitement ultérieur au forge de ces substances a eu comme but décarburer les produits à haute tenue en carbone, et a obtenu de l'acier apte à être forgé et soudé, donc se prêtant bien à la fabrication des outils traditionnels. C'est le premier cas établi en Afrique d'un procédé de fonte indirecte.

Le compte rendu ethnographique est suivi d'un exposé des aspects techniques de la transformation du minerai en acier. Cette interprétation est fondée sur des analyses chimiques et microscopiques des produits et dérivés métalliques et céramiques, y compris les scories. Est proposé également un calcul approximatif de la production du fer et de la consommation du charbon dans les conditions traditionnelles. En dernier lieu, le procédé continu mafa est comparé au traitement par lots caractéristique du procédé sukur et marghi.

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Copyright information

© Cambridge University Press 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas David
  • Robert Heimann
  • David Killick
  • Michael Wayman

There are no affiliations available

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