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Iron Artefacts from the DGB-1 Site, Northern Cameroon: Conservation, Metallurgical Analysis and Ethnoarchaeological Analogies

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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.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Bowdoin College ; 2: Department of Art History, The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California ; 3: Head Tide Archaeological Conservation Laboratory ; 4: Pavillon Charles de Koninck, Université Laval


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