Cairo to cape: The spread of metallurgy through Eastern and Southern Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


This article traces the beginnings of metallurgy in the eastern half of the Africa content, focussing on three zones: (1) Egypt and Nubia; (2) the Great Lakes region of East Africa; and (3) southern Africa. Metallurgy was not practiced much beyond the Nile valley until the first millennium BCE, when copper, bronze and iron metallurgy began in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and iron metallurgy in the Great Lakes region of central Africa. The expansion of agricultural societies carried iron metallurgy south, reaching its southern limit in South Africa by ca. 300 cal CE. Copper was also smelted in southern Africa, but its use was restricted to pendants, bracelets, wire and other items of jewelry. In stark contrast to the metallurgical sequence in the Nile Valley, there was no production of tin, lead, gold or silver in central or southern Africa before these regions were linked to the Islamic world system after ca. 800 CE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationArchaeometallurgy in Global Perspective
Subtitle of host publicationMethods and Syntheses
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781461490173
ISBN (Print)1461490162, 9781461490166
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014


  • Africa
  • Copper
  • Egypt
  • Gold
  • Iron
  • Metallurgy
  • Nubia
  • Tin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'Cairo to cape: The spread of metallurgy through Eastern and Southern Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this