The blacksmiths produced and reshaped almost all the spears and other pre-colonial war weapons in the Kilimanjaro region. Blacksmithing craft is an old knowledge in northern Tanzania predominantly carried out in the Pare mountains which enjoyed the ubiquitous nature of iron raw materials such as high-quality ore, clay and fuel needed to make Iron. This project aims to digitally document the smithing process and knowledge in the Kilimanjaro region, Tanzania. The researchers will document and digitise the material knowledge and social cognitive entailed in the production of iron implements among communities in northern Tanzania. The project will focus on the processes of material acquisition, processing, and the production of a final iron product. This connects to the larger social knowledge networks in indigenous knowledge and complexity in the pre-colonial communities.

The specific goal of this project is to document and digitize the endangered knowledge of local iron smithing craft in north-eastern Tanzania using an audio-visual medium. The research team plans to expose more people in the area to this material practice and archive the diminishing practices of blacksmiths in this region. We also aim at applying the experience gained from the exercise to answer broader archaeological and anthropological questions relating to social complexity in small scale communities, art and craft specialization, early technology, and indigenous knowledge systems. The threats to the material practice require that it be documented digitally.


Valence Valerian Meriki Silayo

Nicholaus Joseph Kisambuka
Wenceslous M. Mashingo
Irene Gabriel Ndossi

Location of Research:
Kilimanjaro region, Tanzania

Host Institution:
Tumaini University, Dar es Salaam College



Top Banner Image: PI and Mr Mushi Sarkoki in the field (Photo: Wenseslaus Mashingo)