The Appearance, Use, and Production of Glass in Ancient Sub-Saharan West Africa

Author(s): Thomas Fenn

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "African Archaeology throughout the Holocene" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

One of the commodities heading south across the Saharan Desert over the past 2000+ years was glass. The typical form was as beads, but vessel glass and other forms also have been recorded. Glass not only was imported but at some point in the past also was produced by indigenous populations for local and regional consumption. Advances in recent analytical methods have lead to an increased body of compositional and isotopic data on ancient and historic glass in Sub-Saharan West Africa. As a result, these data provide archaeologists and historians a much richer and more robust basis for interpreting the role glass played in trade and exchange networks, and the socio-political, ideological and economic aspects of glass in past cultures. The following paper will review some of the evidence we have for ancient glass in West Africa, present some new and recent results, and synthesis these into a bigger-picture interpretation of the role of glass amongst ancient West African societies.

Cite this Record

The Appearance, Use, and Production of Glass in Ancient Sub-Saharan West Africa. Thomas Fenn. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452015)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.721; min lat: -35.174 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 27.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 26301