Thursday, April 15, 2021
Title: "Reconstructing the production and exchange of copper in central and southern Africa over the past 1500 years"
Abstract: Copper mining and metallurgical technologies were brought to central and southern Africa, along with agriculture and iron metallurgy, by speakers of Bantu languages between 200 and 400 AD. It was initially used solely for jewelry, but after about 1000 AD ingots of standard shapes and sizes were widely exchanged, and (in southern Congo only) a graded series of copper ingots became the basis of a monetary system. Copper is a relatively scarce element, so people in many parts of southern Africa had to obtain it by long-distance trade. With research support from the National Science Foundation, we are using lead isotopic ratios and trace element concentrations in copper from many archaeological sites (including Great Zimbabwe, Khami, and Ingombe Ilede) to link artefacts to their parent ore bodies, and thus to reconstruct patterns of past exchange.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC