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East African Pyro-Technological Processes and Networks, 7th-10th Centuries AD

This research project aims to conduct a comprehensive interdisciplinary study of archaeological material retrieved from 7th-10th century contexts on the East African coast. The project will focus on the material produced, using two pyro-technologies: iron smelting and clay firing.

A number of sites with connection to the coast and in proximity to one another will be identified, and ceramics and metallurgical remains from these sites will be obtained and analysed for chemical composition and isotopic signatures. This will be carried out, firstly, in order to identify the raw materials and technological procedures employed for iron smelting and production of local ceramics. Elemental and petrographic analyses will be performed in order to determine whether the materials used were obtained locally or needed to be imported from elsewhere.

Furthermore, the project aims to investigate the technological equipment and procedures that enabled the production of iron and ceramics, defining the thermodynamic processes occurring in the furnaces in order to evaluate the expertise of the local craftsmen and determine whether there is evidence of standardided production. Secondly, a comparative study will be carried out of pyro-technologies of iron smelting and ceramics’ firing, in terms of materials used and technological processes involved within the limits of a particular site.

The study will attempt to determine whether parallels can be drawn between the pyro-technological processes used to process two distinct materials.

Finally, the project will investigate whether raw materials used and technologies employed are comparable across sites, indicating common material sources and/or sharing of technological knowhow.

PI: Former PhD student Ema Bauzyte