Copper in Zimbabwe
Early farming communities in central and southern Africa were aware of mineral resources. Iron and copper have been extracted and used since the beginnings of farming in the region in the first millennium AD. The use of gold in particular and tin to a limited extent developed later as economic resources for social hierarchies that began to emerge at the beginning of the second millennium AD. Dubbed the “red gold of Africa” (Herbert, 1984), copper in the Zimbabwean archaeological record contrasts with gold. Gold was mined on a large scale, primarily for export via the east coast Indian Ocean trade network, with limited local use by elite of the second millennium political hierarchy on the Zimbabwean plateau and in the Limpopo valley. Copper on the other hand was mined for local use as items of personal adornment and as symbols of wealth and position among the socially elite.
Precolonial mine workings existed on the Central African Copper Belt (Bisson, 1976) the copper-bearing...
KeywordsFourteenth Century Tool Mark Subsistence Requirement Trade Item Copper Artifact
- Bisson, M. S. (1976). The prehistoric copper mines of Zambia. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California.Google Scholar
- De Maret, P. (1995). Croisette histories. In L. de Heusch (Ed.), Objects: Signs of Africa (pp. 133–145) Tervuren, Belgium: Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale.Google Scholar
- Fagan, B. M., Phillipson, D. W., & Daniels, S. G. H. (1960). Iron Age cultures in Zambia: Dambwa, Ingombe Ilede and the Tonga (Vol. 2). London: Chatto & Windus.Google Scholar
- Friede, H. M. & Steel, R. H. (1975). Notes on Iron Age copper-smelting technology in the Transvaal. The Journal of The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 4, 221–231.Google Scholar
- Garlake, P. S. (1970). Iron Age site in the Urungwe District of Rhodesia. South African Archaeological Bulletin, 25(97), 25–44.Google Scholar
- Hanisch, E. O. M. (1974). Copper working in the Messina district. The Journal of The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 6, 250–253.Google Scholar
- Herbert, E. W. (1984). Red Gold of Africa: copper in precolonial history and culture. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
- Huffman, T. N., van der Merwe, H. D., Grant, M. R. & Kruger, G. D. (1995). Early copper mining at Thakadu, Botswana. The Journal of The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2, 53–61.Google Scholar
- Summers, R. (1969). Ancient mining in Rhodesia and adjacent areas (Museum memoir, Vol. 3). Salisbury, England: Trustees of the National Museums of Rhodesia.Google Scholar
- Swan, L. (2007). Economic and ideological roles of copper ingots in prehistoric Zimbabwe. Antiquity, 81, 999–1012.Google Scholar
- Swan, L. (2008). Minerals and Managers: production contexts as evidence for social organization in Zimbabwean prehistory. Studies in Global Archaeology 12. Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet.Google Scholar
- Vogel, J.O. (1990) The cultural basis, development, and consequences of a socially mediated trading corporation in southern Zambezia. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 9, 105–147.Google Scholar