The Role of Ethnohistoric Data in Reconstructing
Ancient Siderurgy in Dogon Country (Mali)
Since 2002, research on paleometallurgy in Dogon Country has revealed an exceptional history of siderurgical activity. More than one hundred smelting sites have been recorded, mapped and studied for the first time. Based on technological, cultural and economic criteria, we have attributed these sites to seven different siderurgical traditions. The existence and cohabitation of such diverse metallurgical remains within a limited geographic area (15000 km2) are very surprising. In this paper, we attempt to interpret this archaeological observation with the aid of ethnohistoric data. Based on this comparison of several sources, we propose a new historic scenario retracing the evolution of the traditional production of iron in Dogon Country.