Using Ethnoarchaeology to Interpret Archaeological Blacksmithing Sites in Togo, West Africa

Author(s): Philip De Barros

Year: 2017


Philip de Barros, Palomar College. A 2013 study of the ethnoarchaeology of the blacksmithing village of Upper Bidjomambe in the ironworking region of Bassar in northern Togo provided invaluable data to help archaeologists interpret archaeological smithing sites. Oral traditions document the village's occupation from ca. 1870 to 1970 when it was abandoned leaving it virtually intact with little disturbance or tool recycling. An 80+-year-old informant formerly from Upper Bidjomambe, who was a stone hammerman for a traditional 3-man smithing team, provided invaluable ethnoarchaeological data linked to a GPS-based site map that documents partially standing house ruins; forging locations based on in-situ anvils and stone hammers; stone outcrops used to process iron blooms (likumanjool); and slag trash deposits near residences or in larger smithing dumps. These data points and their spatial interrelationships were used to interpret two 18-19th century archaeological smithing sites associated with the present-day, former smithing villages of Bitchabe and Bidjobebe. These archaeological sites have been impacted by hoe agriculture, tool recycling, and school and/or road construction. The partial reconstruction and interpretation of these sites using the Bidjomambe data is evaluated as to its degree of success.

Cite this Record

Using Ethnoarchaeology to Interpret Archaeological Blacksmithing Sites in Togo, West Africa. Philip De Barros. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431941)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15711