Wednesday, October 2, 2019

African Archaeology :: Africa African Archaeology Essays

1) Metallurgical Origins in Africa Introduction The study of metallurgy in Africa has been dominated by a concern with origins and antiquity. Some Anthropologists believe that African metallurgy was an early, independent invention, while others believe that it was an innovation, which came relatively late, and was a product of diffusion. With these two hypotheses as our only reference points, we are limited in our knowledge of metallurgy as well as its role in the lives of African people. Anthropologists often find themselves in the predicament of being presented with a small number of precedent theories, which shape and direct further studies. Diffusionism J.O. Vogel, in an article published in the Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa (1991) entitled â€Å"Copper Metallurgy,† took the diffusionist theory of African metallurgy as a given, stating that â€Å"The ultimate source of sub-Saharan metallurgy has not been conclusively identified, but among the most likely source areas are Carthage or southern Morocco via Berber traders crossing the Sahara.† (Vogel, 1997: 125) This author was working within the framework of diffusionist ideas, leaving little room for alternate theories. James Woodhouse, however, a proponent of Indigenism, discusses the logistics of this theory, citing references that suggest that smelting in Carthage only appeared in the early first millennium B.C., making diffusion into Nigeria, and lands further south, difficult in such a short time, if not impossible. More explicitly, Vogel states that â€Å"Copper metallurgy was invented in Eurasia, and began before 6000 B.C,† (Vogel, 1997: 125) and place s the first evidences of African smelting between 900 and 300 B.C. (Vogel, 1997: 126). Without any specific physical evidence cited to this effect, the argument lacks a certain amount of credibility. Another model, which is inherent of diffusionist theory, is that of â€Å"progressive development.† It seems to be a trend in much of Western thought that societies must undergo certain stages of development to qualify as civilizations. The theory proposes that when faced with a new technology, people will automatically embrace it in order to â€Å"better† themselves, and to move up on the ladder of civilization. Proponents of the progressive development theory see any deviation from this pattern as problematic and anomalous. This is shown in the terminology used by certain anthropologists when describing such deviations. In the case of African metallurgy, any society, which does not produce metals, or does not embrace the technology immediately, is seen as facing some sort of â€Å"barrier.

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