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Cross-craft Overlaps in Materials and Symbolism: Insights from Legacy Crucibles from the Great Zimbabwe Archive

Author(s): Shadreck Chirikure

Year: 2017

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The legacy collections from Great Zimbabwe (CE1000-1700) emanated from uncontrolled treasure hunting expeditions of the late 19th and early 20th century and the sporadic professional digs conducted at various points throughout the twentieth century. As a result of this colorful history, most materials from the site are scattered in different archives where they are gathering dust with little or no research being performed. This contribution discusses a technological and typological analysis of crucibles from the legacy collection spread across Zimbabwe and South Africa. The crucibles were used for processing gold, bronze, brass and copper at the site. Typological studies revealed the existence of specialized and non-specialized vessels, which were used for identical technical purposes. However, the non-specialized crucibles resembled quotidian pottery used for mundane activities. Quite interestingly, metallurgy and pottery-making are often portrayed as distinctly gendered pursuits, with minimal overlaps in symbolism and the participation of men and women. Geochemical and mineralogical work exposed that the two types of vessels were made using clay from the same granitic derived lithology. This raises significant questions about material and symbolic overlaps in pyrotechnologies that used the same materials and symbols in the indigenous development of African metallurgy.

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Cross-craft Overlaps in Materials and Symbolism: Insights from Legacy Crucibles from the Great Zimbabwe Archive. Shadreck Chirikure. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431452)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15987

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America