Marandet Ancient Trade and Archaeometallurgy Project (MATAP)

About Marandet

Settlement at ancient Marandet  (Niger, West Africa) dates to the late Iron Age (ca. AD 600-1400), and due to its geographic location and access to water, it was a key node in trans-Saharan trade networks.  Evidence of copper production and metallurgy is abundant at the site, with used crucibles and molds readily observable in hundreds of refuse pits identified during archaeological survey. 


Below are some of the 3-D models of crucibles that were found in Marandet, Niger. These files provide volumetric and material information about the technology used for metal production. Our research investigates how these metallurgical tools were used and what they contained. In the coming weeks, as this project progresses, more of these models will be shared.


Why is copper important?

Copper metals were highly demanded in historic Trans-Saharan trade structures; they were used as a medium of exchange, a material resource, and as wearable adornments. Since copper was so important to West African trade, studying these materials will provide new and insightful information about the sites that traded these metals and the structure and interaction of these ancient economies.  

This picture shows the thousands of crucibles excavated from Marandet. Of these, few remain available for research. (Lhote 1972:Fig. 1))

Further steps:

This project is important for future research regarding this trade because the specific chemical and material makeup of the copper remains can be compared to other copper found in Africa. From this information, a more comprehensive understanding of how and where people traded can be found. Understanding how copper was traded provides a path to investigating the interactions of ancient people. As copper was traded, technology and culture was also exchanged throughout Africa. This research crosses disciplinary lines and academic boundaries.