Typological and technological attributes of metallurgical crucibles from Great Zimbabwe (1000–1700 CE)'s legacy collections

Foreman Bandama, Abigail Joy Moffett, Shadreck Chirikure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on the typological and archaeometallurgical studies of an assemblage of long forgotten but often misidentified metallurgical crucibles and moulds from Great Zimbabwe's century old archive. It exposes that specialised crucibles, non-specialised crucibles (common pottery), as well as an eclectic assortment of moulds, were primarily used to hold the melt and to form ingots during non-ferrous metallurgical operations, throughout the site's occupation history (1000–1700 CE). The moulds appear in different types, some elongated but others more circular as if they were used to produce small gold ‘buttons’. Available records indicate that the various types of metallurgical ceramics were often found in the same stratigraphic contexts as domestic debris. The characterisation of the crucible fabrics and attached slags suggest that while the two types of crucibles were made using local granitic clays, they were also used to process similar metals and alloys, but sometimes representing different stages in the chaîne operatoire. This raises significant questions relating to the techno-cultural choices behind the typological variation, if the intention of their producers and users, was to work the same metals and alloys.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-657
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Early online date18 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

Cite this