Metals in Past Societies; A Global Perspective on Indigenous African Metallurgy
This book seeks to communicate to both a global and local audience, the key attributes of pre-industrial African metallurgy such as technological variation across space and time, methods of mining and extractive metallurgy and the fabrication of metal objects. These processes were transformative in a physical and metaphoric sense, which made them total social facts. Because the production and use of metals was an accretion of various categories of practice, a chaine operatoire conceptual and theoretical framework that simultaneously considers the embedded technological and anthropological factors was used.
The book focuses on Africa’s different regions as roughly defined by cultural geography. On the one hand there is North Africa, Egypt, the Egyptian Sudan, and the Horn of Africa which share cultural inheritances with the Middle East and on the other is Africa south of the Sahara and the Sudan which despite interacting with the former is remarkably different in terms of technological practice. For example, not only is the timing of metallurgy different but so is the infrastructure for working metals and the associated symbolic and sociological factors. The cultural valuation of metals and the social positions of metal workers were different too although there is evidence of some values transfer and multi-directional technological cross borrowing. The multitude of permutations associated with metals production and use amply demonstrates that metals participated in the production and reproduction of society.