Estimating the environmental impact of intensive pre-colonial iron production of West Africa: The contribution of a multi-proxy study in Bassar region (Togo)

Abstract : Metallurgy in the Bassar region (Togo) began before the CE and underwent significant intensification in production from the 14th century. This region, one of the major centres of iron metallurgy in West Africa, practiced intensive metallurgy until the early 20th century before stopping production completely in the 1950s. This activity was very early the focus of archaeological research (de Barros 1985, 1986, 1988). It was considered one of the main causes of massive deforestation and degradation of the vegetation due to the large demand for wood. However, palaeoenvironmental research is locally non-existent. The objective of this study is to alleviate a real lack of knowledge concerning the environmental impact of iron metallurgy in Bassar. This research was conducted at the scale of the catchment of the Tatré, a small waterway 8 km long, where a large number of metallurgical remains are found (more than 300 slag heaps). A detailed analysis of the morphostructural context and a chronostratigraphic study of the sedimentary record of the Tatré were conducted to identify the impacts of metallurgical activity on the morphogenetic system of the waterway and their landscape footprint (changes in surface conditions, erosive crises, changes in hydrosedimentary dynamics due to forest clearing, etc.). In parallel, phytolith research was performed to reconstruct vegetation landscapes and highlight patterns of exploitation of wood resources and phenomena of opening up of landscapes in relation to metallurgy.
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Contributor : Caroline Robion-Brunner <>
Submitted on : Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 8:36:50 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - 4:44:54 PM

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  • HAL Id : hal-02011402, version 1

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Aline Garnier, Matthieu Fressard, Yann Le Drézen, Caroline Robion-Brunner. Estimating the environmental impact of intensive pre-colonial iron production of West Africa: The contribution of a multi-proxy study in Bassar region (Togo). 23e Colloque de la Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA), Jun 2016, Toulouse, France. ⟨hal-02011402⟩

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