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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 8 (1) 2010

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É. Zangato & A.F.C. Holl

On the Iron Front: New Evidence from North-Central Africa

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 8 (1), 2010, pages 7-23, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10153

Abstract
The advent of copper and iron metallurgy is one of the most fascinating debate taking place in sub-Saharan Africa archaeology today. Challenging data, that may be accurate or not, are usually ignored or dismissed without serious consideration. Sustained long-term research is nonetheless changing our views on the development of iron metallurgy in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper presents new evidence from North-Central Africa, in the Djohong area in the Cameroons, and Ndio area in the Central African Republic, both situated in the northeastern part of the Adamawa Plateau. Iron production activities are documented to have taken place as early as 3000–2500 BC. It is the case in habitation sites like Balimbé, Bétumé, and Bouboun, smelting sites like Gbabiri, and forge sites like Ôboui and Gbatoro. The last two sites provide high resolution data on the spatial patterning of blacksmiths' workshops dating from 2500 to 2000 BC.

Résumé
L'avènement de la métallurgie du cuivre et du fer est un des sujets les plus débattus en archéologie de l'Afrique sub-saharienne. Les nouvelles données collectées au cours des trois dernières décennies, qui vont à l'encontre des idées reçues sur l'émergence des métallurgies africaines, sont généralement ignorées ou rejetées sans examen approfondi. Un certain nombre de projets de recherche à long terme s'est néanmoins poursuivi et apporte des données solides et cohérentes sur l'ancienneté de la métallurgie du fer en Afrique. Cet article présente les nouvelles données collectées le long de la marge septentrionale de la forêt équatoriale humide dans le nord de l'Afrique centrale. Les sites fouillés se trouvent dans la région de Ndio en République Centrafricaine et celle de Djohong au Cameroun, toutes deux situées dans confins orientaux du plateau de l'Adamawa. La production des objets en fer s'est effectuée à partir de 3000–2500 BC dans les sites d'habitat comme Balimbé, Bétumé et Bouboun, les sites de réduction comme Gbabiri, et les sites de forge comme Ôboui et Gbatoro. Ces deux derniers sites fournissent des données remarquables sur les plus anciennes forges de l'Afrique centrale, datant de 2500–2000 BC.




Keywords: Adamawa, early forges, Gbabiri, Gbatoro, iron metallurgy, North Central Africa, Oboui, Ôboui


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