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They Still Practice The Ancient Ways Of Iron Smelting In African Today

In the 1960s it was suggested that iron working was spread by speakers of Bantu languages, whose original homeland has been located by linguists in the Benue River valley of eastern Nigeria and Western Cameroon.

Some recent studies date the inception of iron metallurgy in Africa between 3000 and 2500 BCE. Evidence exists for earlier iron metallurgy in parts of Nigeria, Cameroon, and Central Africa, possibly from as early as around 2,000 BCE. Some evidence from historical linguistics suggests that the Nok culture of Nigeria may have practiced iron smelting from as early as 1000 BCE. The nearby Djenné-Djenno culture of the Niger Valley in Mali shows evidence of iron production from c. 250 BCE. The Bantu expansion spread the technology to Eastern and Southern Africa during c. 500 BCE to 400 CE, as shown in the Urewe culture of the Lake Victoria region.

Iron has a number of advantages over copper, brass, wood, and stone. The use of iron ushered in an Iron Age in Africa, with the expansion of agriculture, industry, trade, and political power. In some African cultures, smelters and ironworkers are of low status because of the manual labor inherent in their work. In others, they are of high status because of the value of their wares.

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