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Metal Working at Bosutswe, Botswana

Metal Working at Bosutswe, Botswana This paper provides the results of a detailed metallurgical analysis of the gold, copper, bronze and iron artifacts and slag recovered from excavations, carried out in 1990 and in 2001–2002, at Bosutswe on the eastern edge of the Kalahari Desert. While we find that the general manufacturing technologies of smelting and metal artifact production did not change greatly over time, and are indeed similar across vast distances of southern Africa, the cultural context of these materials attests to their importance as productive tools and weapons, as well as jewelry and ornamentation that were important in the construction of sumptuary distinction and social status. The important new technology of copper-alloy bronze production makes its appearance at Bosutswe around CE 1300. The quantity of bronze goods recovered indicates that during much of the 2 nd quarter of the second millennium CE the occupants of Bosutswe participated in elite networks of inter-regional exchange and luxury consumption that were dominated by the larger regional polities of Mapungubwe, Great Zimbabwe, and Khami. While the occupants of the site were able to express some degree of political and cultural autonomy through their elaboration and use of uniquely styled ceramics, their subordinate position vis-à-vis these more powerful entities was also attested through many of the same mechanisms — the possession of small numbers of imported glass beads and iron, copper and bronze ornaments, and the occasional gold bangle. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of African Archaeology Brill

Metal Working at Bosutswe, Botswana

Journal of African Archaeology , Volume 5 (2): 271 – Nov 1, 2007

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Copyright 2007 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1612-1651
eISSN
2191-5784
DOI
10.3213/1612-1651-10095
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper provides the results of a detailed metallurgical analysis of the gold, copper, bronze and iron artifacts and slag recovered from excavations, carried out in 1990 and in 2001–2002, at Bosutswe on the eastern edge of the Kalahari Desert. While we find that the general manufacturing technologies of smelting and metal artifact production did not change greatly over time, and are indeed similar across vast distances of southern Africa, the cultural context of these materials attests to their importance as productive tools and weapons, as well as jewelry and ornamentation that were important in the construction of sumptuary distinction and social status. The important new technology of copper-alloy bronze production makes its appearance at Bosutswe around CE 1300. The quantity of bronze goods recovered indicates that during much of the 2 nd quarter of the second millennium CE the occupants of Bosutswe participated in elite networks of inter-regional exchange and luxury consumption that were dominated by the larger regional polities of Mapungubwe, Great Zimbabwe, and Khami. While the occupants of the site were able to express some degree of political and cultural autonomy through their elaboration and use of uniquely styled ceramics, their subordinate position vis-à-vis these more powerful entities was also attested through many of the same mechanisms — the possession of small numbers of imported glass beads and iron, copper and bronze ornaments, and the occasional gold bangle.

Journal

Journal of African ArchaeologyBrill

Published: Nov 1, 2007

Keywords: Southern Africa; Iron Age; Bosutswe; Botswana; metallurgy; bronze; copper; iron; lead; gold; slag

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