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Archaeological materials from the Mediterranean world in Southeast Asia are scarce and their social context and cultural implications are rarely considered, while objects in Mediterranean style are often misinterpreted or overlooked. Concomitant to the increasing implementation of laboratory analysis, the range of new evidence, especially coming from recently excavated sites in Thailand and Myanmar, along with the reinterpretation of earlier data now brings the potential to compare different regions, and to discuss possible variations in terms both of the diversity and density of Roman materials. This study includes Mediterranean imports produced between the last centuries bce and first centuries ce, as well as Asia-produced inspired objects that integrate Mediterranean elements to varying degrees, combining new data and re-analysed materials. The paper not only contributes to building the sequence of cultural exchanges, but also interprets in cultural terms the varying Mediterranean elements present.
The investigation of Islamic archaeology in Ethiopia has until recently been neglected. Excavations at Harlaa, a large urban centre in eastern Ethiopia, are now beginning to redress this lack of research attention. By establishing occupation and material sequences, and by assessing the chronology and material markers of Islamisation, recent work provides important new insight on the presence and role of Muslims and Islamic practice at Harlaa, and in the Horn of Africa more generally. The results challenge previous assumptions of cultural homogeneity, instead indicating the development of cosmopolitanism. They also suggest a possible historical identity for Harlaa: as Hubät/Hobat, the capital of the Hārlā sultanate.
This article presents the results of the first excavations at Maliwan and Maliwan, the earliest port-settlements from southern Myanmar in the Isthmus of Kra, showing their involvement in extensive networks as far as the West and China during the last centuries BC.
Recent excavations at the site of Igbo Olokun in the Yoruba city of Ile-Ife, in south-western Nigeria, have shed light on early glass manufacturing techniques in West Africa. The recovery of glass beads and associated production materials has enabled compositional analysis of the artefacts and preliminary dating of the site, which puts the main timing of glass-working between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries AD. The results of these studies suggest that glass bead manufacture at this site was largely independent of glass-making traditions documented farther afield, and that Igbo Olokun may represent one of the earliest known glass-production workshops in West Africa.
Adrianne Daggett, received her PhD from Michigan State University in the US. Her research examines variations in social and economic organisation during the Early Iron Age of Botswana.,
Marilee Wood, independent researcher and honorary research associate in the School of Geography,,
Laure Dussubieux, research scientist at the Field Museum, Chicago. She specialises in determining the composition of ancient artefacts made from synthesised or natural glass, metals and stones, using laser ablation to study their provenance and circulation.
In this paper we present the results of recent laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry analysis (LA-ICP-MS) of an assemblage of glass beads from Thabadimasego, an Early Iron Age site in northeast Botswana. Glass beads of Middle East and South Asian origins have been recovered from numerous sites across southern Africa and offer important evidence of trading connections both within southern Africa as well as between the subcontinent and other regions participating in the vast Indian Ocean trade network of the time. Results of the Thabadimasego bead analysis indicate that the site participated in some of the earliest manifestations of this exchange system.
Early Iron Age (EIA) settlements in southern Africa are broadly characterised as small Bantu-speaking agricultural communities that were more or less self-sustaining in terms of subsistence but nevertheless maintained extensive economic and cultural relationships with one another (Mitchell & Whitelaw 2005; Huffman 2007). These relationships involved, to a greater or lesser degree over the centuries, the exchange of both bulk and luxury items. Some of these goods were local products and some, such as glass beads, were acquired via connections to trading networks further abroad across eastern coastal Africa and glass-producing regions across the Indian Ocean (Pwiti 1991; Popelka et al. 2005; Robertshaw et al. 2010). For the southern African EIA, access to and control over the foreign goods exchange network has been cited as a potentially important factor in the development of social complexity (Hall 1987; Huffman 2000). In this paper we discuss the results of recent research which places the involvement of Zhizo-era sites in north-east Botswana in the luxury goods exchange network from an early date (figure 7.1).
During excavations in 2012, approximately 40 glass beads were recovered from Thabadimasego, a small site on the Mosu Escarpment in north-east Botswana dated to the ninth century (figure 7.2). An additional handful was recovered from a test unit at site 16-A1-12, located on the nearest escarpment protrusion to the west of Thabadimasego. The glass beads were part of a larger assemblage excavated from both sites, which included hundreds of decorated ceramic sherds, faunal remains, shell beads, metal objects and carbonised seeds.
Confronting national, linguistic and disciplinary boundaries, contributors to African Archaeology Without Frontiers argue against artificial limits and divisions created through the study of ‘ages’ that in reality overlap and cannot and should not be understood in isolation. Papers are drawn from the proceedings of the landmark 14th PanAfrican Archaeological Association Congress, held in Johannesburg in 2014, nearly seven decades after the conference planned for 1951 was re-located to Algiers for ideological reasons following the National Party’s rise to power in South Africa. Contributions by keynote speakers Chapurukha Kusimba and Akin Ogundiran encourage African archaeologists to practise an archaeology that collaborates across many related fields of study to enrich our understanding of the past. The nine papers cover a broad geographical sweep by incorporating material on ongoing projects throughout the continent including South Africa, Botswana, Cameroon, Togo, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria. Thematically, the papers included in the volume address issues of identity and interaction, and the need to balance cultural heritage management and sustainable development derived from a continent racked by social inequalities and crippling poverty. Edited by three leading archaeologists, the collection covers many aspects of African archaeology, and a range of periods from the earliest hominins to the historical period. It will appeal to specialists and interested amateurs.
The later African Iron Age saw a shift to centralised polities, as seen in the expansion of hegemonies such as Great Zimbabwe. During this period, trade with the interior of Africa became increasingly centrally controlled. Excavations at the site of Kaitshàa, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi saltpans in Botswana, have revealed how a small settlement based on prehistoric salt trading was able to take its place in the Indian Ocean trade network before such centralised polities arose. Using compositional analysis of glass beads, the authors argue that this site in the central Kalahari Desert exemplifies the role of heterarchy and indigenous agency in the evolving political economy of the subcontinent.
Our knowledge of glass production in ancient Egypt has been well augmented not only by the publication of recently excavated materials and glass workshops, but also by more recent materials analysis, and experiments of modern glass-makers attempting to reconstruct the production process of thin-walled core-formed glass vessels. The small but well preserved glass collection of the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. was used to examine and study the technology and production of ancient Egyptian core-formed glass vessels. Previous study suggests that most of these vessels were produced in the 18th Dynasty in the 15th and 14th centuries BCE, while others date from the Hellenistic period and later. In an ongoing project we conducted computed radiography, x-ray fluorescence analysis and scanning electron microscopy on a selected group of vessels to understand further aspects of the ancient production process. This paper will provide an overview of our recent research.
The feasibility of determining metallic elements used as mordants or dyes with inorganic constituents was tested using inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). For this purpose, modern, historic and archaeological samples were investigated. Mordants containing copper, iron, tin, aluminium or uranium were successfully identified as well as an organic dye with a substitutional bromine.
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