par Nikis, Nicolas
Référence Workshop Long-Distance Trade in Early Medieval Landscapes (9th-12th Centuries): New Methods and Approaches in Archaeology (20-21-09-2019: Universität Hamburg, Germany)
Publication Non publié, 2019-09-21
Communication à un colloque
Résumé : The long-distance trade routes would have played a significant role in the socio-political history of Central Africa during the last 1000 years. However, the lack of sources predating the 19th century has prevented for a long time any detailed study of their history. Over the last decade, however, the amount of archaeological data as well as the development of cross disciplinary approaches and new tools allow assessing the evolution of exchange networks in Central Africa, and to explore their origin through material culture. In this respect, copper is particularly interesting since, considered as a highly valuable metal, it was produced in only a few regions, such as the Copperbelt (south-east Democratic of Congo). While copper is produced and locally traded in Central Africa since, at least the 6th century CE, its production and trade dramatically increase during the 9th-14th-century period. The development of long-distance trade at that time is clearly demonstrated by the connections between the Copperbelt and areas south of the Zambezi, or by the first Indian ocean coastal trade items on Central African sites. In that same period, various regions of Central Africa witnessed major socio-political and cultural changes, especially in connection with the rise of hierarchical societies. Together with other goods, the 9th-14th-century copper exchanges offer the opportunity to explore the origin of the major long-distance trade routes and their running. As such, they allow formulating hypotheses about the respective roles played by production centres and rising polities in such exchanges and their subsequent evolution.