Judging from a number of recent publications, the long-running debate over the origins of iron smelting in sub-Saharan Africa has been resolved… in favor of those advocating independent invention. For Gérard Quéchon, the French archeologist to whom we owe very early dates for iron metallurgy from the Termit Massif in Niger, “indisputably, in the present state of knowledge, the hypothesis of an autochthonous invention is convincing.” According to Eric Huysecom, a Belgian-born archeologist, “[o]ur present knowledge allows us … to envisage one or several independent centres of metal innovation in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Hamady Bocoum, a Senegalese archeologist, asserts that “more and more numerous datings are pushing back the beginning of iron production in Africa to at least the middle of the second millennium BC, which would make it one of the world's oldest metallurgies.” He thinks that “in the present state of knowledge, the debate [over diffusion vs. independent invention] is closed for want of conclusive proof accrediting any of the proposed transmission channels [from the north].” The American archeologist Peter R. Schmidt tells us “the hypothesis for independent invention is currently the most viable among the multitude of diffusionist hypotheses.”
Africanists other than archeologists are in agreement. For Basil Davidson, the foremost popularizer of African history, “African metallurgical skills [were] locally invented and locally developed.” The American linguist Christopher Ehret says
Africa south of the Sahara, it now seems, was home to a separate and independent invention of iron metallurgy … To sum up the available evidence, iron technology across much of sub-Saharan Africa has an African origin dating to before 1000 BCE.