Metallurgy in Africa

  • S. Terry Childs
Reference work entry

A condensed discussion of African metallurgy is difficult because of the large size of the continent and the 3,000 years over which it developed south of the Sahara desert. Furthermore, several metals were produced and used in Africa, and metal production involved many technological steps which were not necessarily used for each metal type (i.e., iron, copper, gold, and tin). Iron production, for example, involved mining iron ore and smelting it to a bloom, a nonmolten mass of metal intermixed with a waste product called slag. The bloom was then forged into objects by hammering, welding, and other processes. Some preindustrial societies made cast iron, a molten form of iron, but there is little evidence for this technology in Africa. Copper and copper alloys, on the other hand, were often made by reducing ore into molten metal and pouring it into molds, or by hammer forging solid copper. Gold was hammered out from its original nugget form, or melted and cast. Pellets of tin were...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • S. Terry Childs

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