"An extraordinarily informative volume that examines the technical aspects of iron production in Africa, both prehistoric and recent, and the cultural modes of behavior surrounding iron working. . . . Science and cultural anthropology are blended into an illuminating exposition, and alternative points of view expose the major issues concerning African iron production."--Thomas H. Wilson, director, Southwest Museum, Los Angeles
Archaeological and ethnographic investigations in western Tanzania in the 1970s revealed remarkable evidence for a complex and highly advanced iron technology that existed there several thousand years ago. Still, Western scientific and historical practice continues to obscure the history of iron technology and its accomplishments in Africa. Weaving together myth, ritual, history, and science, this work describes the systems of smithing and iron smelting, some of which arose 2,000 to 2,500 years ago. Revealing the world of African technological achievement, the contributors to this work demonstrate that iron production there is a socially constructed activity and that its cultural and technological domains cannot be understood separately.
1. Cultural Representations of African Iron Production, by Peter R. Schmidt
2. How Old Is the Iron Age in Africa? by Pierre de Maret and G. Thiry
3. The Blooms of Banjeli: Technology and Gender in West African Ironmaking, by Candice L. Goucher and Eugenia W. Herbert
4. Fipa Iron Working and Its Technological Style, by Randi Barndon
5. Reconfiguring the Barongo: Reproductive Symbolism and Reproduction among a Work Association of Iron Smelters, by Peter R. Schmidt
6. Competition and Change in Two Traditional African Iron Industries, by Nicholas David and Ian Robertson
7. Forging Symbolic Meaning in Zaire and Zimbabwe, by S. Terry Childs and William J. Dewey
8. Complex Iron Smelting and Prehistoric Culture in Tanzania, by Peter R. Schmidt and Donald H. Avery
9. Actualistic Models for Interpretation of Two Early Iron Age Industrial Sites in Northwest Tanzania, by Peter R. Schmidt and S. Terry Childs
10. Use of Preheated Air in Primitive Furnaces: Comments on Views of Avery and Schmidt, by J. E. Rehder; and
The Use of Preheated Air in Ancient and Recent African Iron Smelting Furnaces: A Reply to Rehder, by Donald H. Avery and Peter R. Schmidt
11. On Claims for "Advanced" Ironworking Technology in Precolonial Africa, by David Killick
12. Preheating: Practice or Illusion, by Donald H. Avery and Peter R. Schmidt
13. Technological History and Culture in Western Tanzania, by S. Terry Childs
Peter R. Schmidt is former director of the Center for African Studies and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida. He is the author of Historical Archaeology: A Structural Approach in an African Culture, the editor of two books including Making Alternative Histories, and the author of numerous articles published in journals such as Current Anthropology, American Antiquity, Journal of Field Archaeology, and Review of African Archaeology. He is the producer of "The Tree of Iron," a public television documentary on African iron technology.
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"This is an important and thought-provoking book, which brings much highly sophisticated, multidisciplinary research within reach of a wider community of scholars."
--International Journal of African Historical Studies