Catalogue


The culture and technology of African iron production /
edited by Peter R. Schmidt.
imprint
Gainesville : University Press of Florida, c1996.
description
xviii, 338 p. : ill.
ISBN
0813013844 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Gainesville : University Press of Florida, c1996.
isbn
0813013844 (alk. paper)
local note
HOLDINGS: v. 1-2.
catalogue key
1690196
 
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1996-10-01:
These 13 fine papers from a 1988 conference about precolonial African accomplishment reunite culture and technology--aspects of social life too often falsely separated in academic discourse. Precolonial African iron-smelting was astonishingly sophisticated, sometimes producing "soft steel" from tall clay furnaces. Contributors' evidence and arguments are often esoteric, marshaling archaeology and laboratory analysis in strong scholarly contributions, e.g., was air preheated as it was introduced to smelting furnaces? General readers will become absorbed in the contextual data. Essays show how Muslim and Mafa peoples of northern Cameroon, contending for politicoeconomic advantage, brought competing iron-smelting technologies to the contest. Readers learn how "meaning is forged" in ancient Zaire and Zimbabwe, where furnaces "gave birth" to iron made into ceremonial axes marking social status among the living and communication with the ancestors. Among Bassari of Togo, the poetic narratives, magical practices, and ritual processes of smelting were necessary to produce iron, as the furnace became an active being. As Peter Schimidt concludes, technology cannot be divorced from culture if contemporary scholars are to understand, learn from, and celebrate the remarkable thought and practice of earlier Africans. Upper-division undergraduates and above. A. F. Roberts University of Iowa
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 1996
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Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
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.
Main Description
"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. Contents 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.
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Maps
List of Tables
Preface
Cultural Representations of African Iron Productionp. 1
How Old Is the Iron Age in Central Africa?p. 29
The Blooms of Banjeli: Technology and Gender in West African Iron Makingp. 40
Fipa Ironworking and Its Technological Stylep. 58
Reconfiguring the Barongo: Reproductive Symbolism and Reproduction among a Work Association of Iron Smeltersp. 74
Competition and Change in Two Traditional African Iron Industriesp. 128
Forging Symbolic Meaning in Zaire and Zimbabwep. 145
Complex Iron Smelting and Prehistoric Culture in Tanzaniap. 172
Actualistic Models for Interpretation of Two Early Iron Age Industrial Sites in Northwest Tanzaniap. 186
Use of Preheated Air in Primitive Furnaces: Comment on Views of Avery and Schmidtp. 234
Use of Preheated Air in Ancient and Recent African Iron Smelting Furnaces: A Reply to Rehderp. 240
On Claims For "Advanced" Ironworking Technology in Precolonial Africap. 247
Preheating: Practice or Illusion?p. 267
Technological History and Culture in Western Tanzaniap. 277
Glossaryp. 321
Contributorsp. 325
Indexp. 327
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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