Iron metallurgy has been around for a really long time, some of the oldest iron artefacts that have been uncovered so far are said to be as old as 4000 BC, and there is a lot of evidence behind how the spread and evolution in iron metallurgy played a vital role in the development of the world as we know it today. Iron provided ancient civilisations with the ability to make further advancements, archaeologists have been able to uncover a lot through ancient iron artefacts found all across Africa.
The spread of iron metallurgy in Africa can be traced back to the Bantu people, a collection of around 600 ethnic groups that originated in the Sub-Saharan part of Africa, their culture would later on spread across the rest of Africa as well. Even though archaeologists have been studying the history of iron working in Africa ever since the 1860s, there is still a lot of mystery about whether iron metallurgy came to Africa from the Mediterranean region or whether it was developed by the Bantu people by themselves.
Regardless of how it entered Africa, the Bantu people spent a lot of time studying and refining the process of iron working, most of the techniques that they applied revolved around the bloomer process. The Bantu people, who were experts in iron metallurgy, used charcoal as a major source of fuel in many of their metallurgy sites, this has made carbon dating a whole lot easier for archeologists. Even though there is still a lot of debate on whether iron works was founded in Africa or whether it was introduced into Africa from somewhere else, many carbon dating tests have produced results which indicate that there have been iron metallurgy sites in Africa from a very early time.
Some schools of thought say that these carbon dating results alone are not enough to make such claims while others think that this is more than enough evidence to prove that Africa has been familiar with working iron from a very early time. While we still are not sure on what is true and what is not, we do know that pre-historic iron working in that region has played a major role in the development and evolution of the people of the African continent. Another interesting thing about African iron metallurgy is that since blast furnaces were introduced in that area later than the rest of the world, the bloomery process has had much more time to grow over there.
Many bloomery furnaces that can be found in Africa show signs of advancements based on a number of factors, including adaptations based on the type of local ore found in the region, environmental conditions and circumstances such as a shortage or abundance of labor. Africa is a land with a lot of secrets and mysteries that have yet to be uncovered, the exact history and development of iron work there is one such mystery that has yet to be solved.