In 2008, a number of iron artefacts were recovered from an interior courtyard on the DGB-1 site during fieldwork in 2008. DGB-1 is a large multi-function site located in the northeastern Mandara Mountains of Cameroon, and dating to the mid-second millennium AD. The iron artefacts recovered included a cache of spear/arrow points found buried under a living floor, as well as a local hoe and a chain and a ‘barrette’ probably not of local provenance. This discovery has a number of points of interest: (1) ethnoarchaeological reenactments of iron smelts in the 1980s in the same region provide a rare opportunity for comparison of iron-working techniques over about five centuries in sub-Saharan Africa; (2) the variability in different forms of iron (including eutectoid steel) used in these artefacts; and (3) the welding of different forms of iron to produce composite artefacts.
Over the past five years, archaeological survey and excavation has been undertaken in southern Chad and Cameroon, as the result of a cultural heritage management agreement between the governments of the two countries, the World Bank and a consortium of international oil companies. These initiatives were undertaken as part of the Chad Export Project, which involved the construction of an oil pipeline from Komé in southern Chad to the Atlantic coast of Cameroon near Ebomé. Research by archaeologists associated with the project has resulted in location and excavation of cultural remains along a 1070-kilometre transect, in part through regions of Africa where little research had previously been undertaken. This preliminary report examines the results of this research. Major results include: (1) the discovery of 470 sites in Chad and Cameroon; (2) the excavation of a mid- to late-Holocene stratified sequence in southern Cameroon; (3) the discovery of sites containing pit features in the forests of southern Cameroon between the Atlantic coast and Nanga Eboko, a larger area than had been indicated by previous research, and (4) the discovery of evidence for significant ironworking activity in the wooded savanna environments of northeastern Cameroon and southern Chad.