Iron Production in Northern Benin: Excavations at Kompa Moussékoubou

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 CNRS TRACES/UMR 5608, Jean Jaures University
  • | 2 Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, University of East Anglia
  • | 3 CNRS TRACES/UMR 5608, Jean Jaures University
  • | 4 Institute of Archaeology, University College London
  • | 5 GET/UMR 5563, Paul Sabatier University

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In the context of the “Crossroads of Empires” project led by Anne Haour, one strand of enquiry aims to understand the history of blacksmith groups and the development of iron production in Dendi country, in the northern Republic of Benin. Numerous remains of iron production have been discovered, showing a great variability in furnace design and waste assemblages. At least three smelting traditions can be distinguished. In this paper, we present the smelting site of Kompa Moussékoubou (10th/11th c. AD) which has been investigated by archaeological and archaeometric methods. Beyond the archaeometallurgical results, the excavation of a 1 x 2 m trench on a settlement mound nearby and survey work, which place the site within its wider context, are also discussed. In particular, we offer a detailed analysis of the ceramics recovered during test pitting and within one of the furnaces itself. This paper thus offers a rare opportunity to combine archaeometallurgical and ceramics data.

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