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The archaeometry of tuyeres from the Great Zimbabwe and wider implications for its iron production technologies
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, African and Comparative Archaeology. Uppsala University.
Lund University .
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

We report the first detailed chemical, microstructural and thermal analyses of a growing corpus of metallurgical tuyeres from the wider archaeological landscape of Great Zimbabwe in southern Africa. Of note is the fusion of the tuyeres in multiples, suggestive of widespread use of natural draft iron smelting technologies for large-scale production of iron most likely during the zenith period of Great Zimbabwe (ca 12th-16th century AD). Considerable variation in elemental composition between sites attributable to the adaptation of ceramic technology to local clay materials across the landscape is established through XRF analytical techniques. We also pick from petrographic studies, a bias towards self-tempered clays dominated by  silt and fine sand at some sites and the tendency for technicians to crush coarse sand and gravel  a the others. Yet, and despite such variability in ceramic technology approaches, none of the studied sample had started to deform or melt at 1400oC, the maximum temperature of the furnace used for thermal analyses in the laboratory, revealing an unusually high refractoriness. We argue that such novel technologies natural draft furnaces would have built on an equally high degree of knowledge in ceramic technology, skilled prospection and manipulation of the material world. This brings out yet another intimate human-landscape interaction vividly depicted in Great Zimbabwe’s famous drystone architecture Great Zimbabwe

Keyword [en]
GREAT ZIMBABWE, ARCHAEOMETRY, TUYERES, NATURAL DRAFT, IRON TECHNOLOGY
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-334796OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-334796DiVA: diva2:1160693
Available from: 2017-11-28 Created: 2017-11-28 Last updated: 2017-12-05
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Citation style
  • apa
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