By Ian Shaw
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Extra info for A Dictionary of Archaeology
D. Clark: The prehistory of Africa (London, 1970); R. D. W. W. T. G. Sutton: A thousand years of East Africa (Nairobi, 1990). JS 4 Southern Africa Southern Africa is a subcontinent of contrasts. Climatically, rainfall is the most important factor, with a winter rainfall pattern dominant in its southwestern corner. Over the remaining western third of South Africa rainfall may fall all year round, but is high only along the coast; the rest of the subcontinent has a summer rainfall régime, with precipitation highest over its eastern half.
While some aspects of interior Iron-Age research have been rather narrowly conceived within local historical contexts, the study of the Swahili coast – which related very obviously between the 9th and 16th centuries AD to the Indian Ocean, the Islamic heartlands and the wider world – has been largely pursued as a separate subject (see SWAHILI HARBOUR TOWNS). Some East African scholars have tended to see the history and archaeology of the coast as somewhat foreign, and the pioneers of Swahili archaeology, Kirkman and Chittick, in particular, made little concession to the intellectual gulf between their work and that of other East African archaeologists, which manifested itself in the 1960s.
A slightly earlier date of 2628 ± 120 BP from Do Dimmi southeast of the Air massif in Central Niger is not out of line with this, although it has been suggested that the same ‘old wood’ factor which affected the dates from Agadez may have been operative here too. The low shaft furnaces in use at these sites were of the nonslag-tapping variety, although at Lejja (near Opi) <500 cylindrical blocks at first thought to constitute a ‘bloom bank’ have been shown to consist of slag which was drawn off intermittently into pits.
A Dictionary of Archaeology by Ian Shaw