Invention and innovation in African iron-smelting technologies

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28 Scopus citations


Sub-Saharan Africa is often characterized by Europeans as a region that saw no significant technological change from the adoptions of agriculture and ironworking until the European colonization of the entire continent after 1880. This article criticizes this view by exploring the distinction between invention and innovation, using African iron smelting as a case study. It argues that there is in fact much evidence for the invention of new technologies in recent African prehistory, but that very low population densities precluded innovations in mass production and transportation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-319
Number of pages13
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 4 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Archaeology


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