Indigenous metal melting and casting in Southern Africa

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 12
  • Abstract:

    Metal casting involves melting a metal charge in a crucible, and pouring it into a mould with a predetermined shape. This is not generally thought of as an important aspect of metal working in pre-European southern Africa, but it played a role in the second millennium AD for producing ingots, blanks for rings and bangles, and rare objects of probable ritual significance. Casting was restricted to the non-ferrous metals, like copper and tin and their alloys, because indigenous bloomery iron technology could not produce large quantities of molten iron for casting. Asfar as we know, gold was not cast into moulds, although beads were fashioned by punching holes through spherical globules produced by melting. This paper presents metallographic and chemical analyses of the various products of metal casting, and summarizes what is known about indigenous casting technology in southern Africa.