par Nikis, Nicolas ;Livingstone Smith, Alexandre
Référence African Archaeology Research Day (24 novembre 2018: University of Cambridge)
Publication Non publié, 2018-11-24
Communication à un colloque
Résumé : Recent archaeological research in the copper-bearing areas of the Niari Basin (southern Republic of Congo) has allowed for the reconstruction of several copper production traditions dated to the second millennium AD. Besides building a ceramic chrono-typology for the area and characterising metallurgical manufacturing processes, exchange networks linking the deposits to a wider area have also been identified. While the patterns of the networks may have changed over time, some of the roads remained stable through time. A noteworthy example is the Great Congo trade, that connected remote areas such as the Inner Congo Basin to the Atlantic coast in the 19th century and in which copper deposits were involved through local networks. But the connection between the copper producing areas and the upstream area of the river Congo is now also attested for 13-14th century material culture. A similar situation is observed in the Copperbelt, where the distribution of copper cross shaped ingots revealed that 19th-century connections also go back in time and may be as old as the 10th century AD.However, given the lack of direct historical testimonies before the 19th century, these ancient trade networks are poorly known. Here, we will consider how a direct historical approach, starting with the rather well-documented 19th century and going back in time step by step, can give us a better understanding of earlier exchange networks involving the copper producing areas.