This article summarises the results of four seasons of excavation at Tongo Maaré Diabal (AD 500-1150), near Douentza, Mali. Deep stratigraphic excavations were directed by MacDonald and Togola in 1993, 1995 and by MacDonald in 1996. Complementary, large exposure excavations of the abandonment layer were undertaken by Gestrich in 2010. The combined excavation results speak to topics of craft specialisation, trade, and social organisation. They provide evidence of a specialised blacksmithing community situated at the margins of early Middle Niger and Niger Bend statehood and urbanisation.