Black History Culture : Did They or Didn't They Invent It? Iron in Sub-Saharan Africa

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by Omowale Jabali, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Judging from a number of recent publications, the long-running debate
    over the origins of iron smelting in sub-Saharan Africa has been resolved…
    in favor of those advocating independent invention. For Gérard
    Quéchon, the French archeologist to whom we owe very early dates for
    iron metallurgy from the Termit Massif in Niger, “indisputably, in the
    present state of knowledge, the hypothesis of an autochthonous invention
    is convincing.”1 According to Eric Huysecom, a Belgian-born archeologist,
    “[o]ur present knowledge allows us . . . to envisage one or several
    independent centres of metal innovation in sub-Saharan Africa.”

    http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/history_in_africa/v032/32.1alpern.pdf
     
  2. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    In the 14th century smelting was widespread according to the investigations of archeologists. By the late 16th or early 17th century the Bassar region is documented as becoming a large scale producer for supra-regional export to Europe.
    Burkea africana, was the preferred tree for charcoal in Bassar, although there is a list of about 22 hardwood trees found satisfactory to produce charcoal for iron smelting. Ethnographers found that progressive dessication occured after 1000 smeltings, 5000 smelts, 15,000 smelts. (Goucher, p. 73)

    There were sites identified by Germans containing up to 500 furnaces. These furnaces could deforest 4.8 km in all directions in the course of a single year. (Goucher,73)


    Iron Use. Iron ore is abundant in Africa. Ferrous art is quite common despite the bias researchers exhibit by only discussing Africans utilization of cooper, brass, and bronze metallury technology. The discovery and use of iron "increased food production through the use of more efficient bush clearing tools, tools which permitted the clearing of forest and increased productivity in areas where stone was not readily available for stone axes; increased population densities as a result of increased food production ; increased specialization and social differentiation, especially the formation of iron working castes or classes; larger and more stable communities due to both increased specialization of the existence of food surpluses; increased trade due to increased specialization; and the “embryonic rise” of modern politics, “the politics of class differentiation.” (de Barros,467)

    According to Africa archeologists and historians, the introduction of iron technology into sub-Saharan Africa positively shaped African civilization as well. The Iron Age meant

    In the Ancient Ghana and Mali Empires the introduction of iron agricultural implements and weapons meant increased food production and superior military strength respectively. For example, a 12th century geographer, al-Zuhri, reported that Ghanaians raided peoples with no iron. Ghanaians fought with swords and spears, and their opponents were only armed with staves of ebony. (Levtzion,14)

    http://www1.american.edu/ted/togo.htm
     
  3. Amnat77

    Amnat77 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I don't know if they invented it, however there is evidence which shows iron being used in West Africa way before the so called European ''Iron age''.
     
  4. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    Inagina, The Last House of Iron
    A Documentary Film of West African Iron Smelting

    By K. Kris Hirst, About.com Guide


    ....archaeological evidence for smelting of iron can only go so far to understanding the ancient methods of metallurgy. Fortunately for us, it has only been 30 years since the Dogon in Mali stopped regularly smelting iron. University of Geneva ethnoarchaeologist Eric Huysecom travelled to Mali in 1995 to ask eleven Dogon master blacksmiths to smelt iron in the old fashioned way. The blacksmiths were interested in recreating the technique because they felt their sons were losing out on a crucial part of Dogon heritage. The result of this joint effort is the award-winning documentary film, Inagina: The Last House of Iron.

    http://archaeology.about.com/cs/ironagesites/a/inagina.htm
     
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