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An archaeometallurgical investigation of iron smelting traditions in Southern Rwanda

Humphris, J.E.; (2010) An archaeometallurgical investigation of iron smelting traditions in Southern Rwanda. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

From the 1950’s to the 1980’s, research in Rwanda highlighted the country’s significant archaeological potential, including some of the earliest evidence for iron production in sub-Saharan Africa. However, years of civil war culminated in the 1994 genocide and the country was left devastated. Further archaeological research to develop the potential already indicated was inappropriate. In 2006 this research project, to explore Rwanda’s past iron smelting traditions, was accepted by the Institute of National Museums in Rwanda. Six months of fieldwork followed, including survey and the excavation of six newly located iron production sites. Archaeometallurgical samples collected in the field have been analysed at the Institute of Archaeology using a variety of different analytical techniques, and the results generated have been interpreted. Thus, aspects of the production techniques represented at each of the smelting locations investigated during this research have been illuminated. This first systematic exploration of diachronic change within iron smelting traditions in Southern Rwanda has revealed two and a half millennia of dynamic technologies embedded within wider society. A chronological framework has been defined to provide a sound basis for the consideration of the results, which include a high-resolution understanding of Early Iron Age smelting techniques and an appreciation of smelting traditions during the Middle Iron Age. Technological traditions have been contextualised within broader Great Lakes, and specifically Rwandan, history, and the significant potential for such high-resolution studies has been demonstrated.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:An archaeometallurgical investigation of iron smelting traditions in Southern Rwanda
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology

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