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Shadreck Chirikure

Chirikure is Professor and Head of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town. He obtained the degrees of MA Artefact Studies (2002) and PhD in Archaeology (2005) from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. His doctoral thesis explored the technology and socio-cultural metaphors associated with pre-colonial iron production in southern Africa.

Shadreck Chirikure’s Archaeological Materials Laboratory is Africa's only facility dedicated to the study of pyrotechnology practiced by farming communities of the last 2000 years of the sub-Saharan past. Examples of pyrotechnological material studied in the laboratory include metallurgical slags, metal objects, local and imported ceramics, plasters and glass beads. This research facility is dedicated to combining archaeological approaches with techniques derived from earth sciences and engineering to explore the contribution of high temperature technologies to societal evolution. The laboratory's research is currently targeting three areas: (1) investigating the role of mining and metallurgy in early state formation, (2) modelling the evolution of pyrotechnology within the last 2000 years of the sub-Saharan past and (3) exploring innovation and demography in the evolution of socio-technical systems. These areas are studied using material from prominent southern African sites such as Great Zimbabwe, Mapungubwe and Khami. In alignment with the laboratory's continental focus, additional material is also sourced from countries such as Malawi, Nigeria, and amongst others Cameroon..

Selected publications:    

Chirikure, S. (2015). Metals in society: indigenous African metallurgy in a global perspective. New York: Springer.

Chirikure, S. Hall, S. Rehren, Th. 2015. When ceramic sociology meets material science: technological and sociological aspects of crucibles from Mapungubwe, southern Africa. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Chirikure, S. (2015). “Do as I Say and Not as I Do”. On the Gap Between Good Ethics and Reality in African Archaeology. In After Ethics (pp. 27-37). Springer New York.

Fredriksen, P. D., & Chirikure, S. 2015 Beyond Static Models: An Evaluation of Present Status and Future Prospects for Iron Age Research in Southern Africa. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 1-18.

Chirikure, and Sinamai, A. (2015). Salvaging world history on seabed: rescue excavations of a Portuguese ship off Namibia’s southern coast. In Sila Triparti, G. (ed) Shipwrecks around the world. New Delhi. Pp.56-69.

Chirikure, S., Manyanga, M., Pollard, A. M., Bandama, F., Mahachi, G., & Pikirayi, I. (2014). Zimbabwe Culture before Mapungubwe: New Evidence from Mapela Hill, South-Western Zimbabwe. PloS one, 9(10), e111224.

Chirikure, S. (2014). Land and Sea Links: 1500 Years of Connectivity Between Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Rim Regions, ad 700 to 1700. African Archaeological Review, 31(4), 705-724.

Chirikure, S., & Bandama, F. (2014). Indigenous African Furnace Types and Slag Composition—Is there a Correlation? Archaeometry. 56, 2, 296-312. DOI: 10.1111/arcm.12013.

Chirikure, S. (2014). ‘Where angels fear to tread’: ethics, commercial archaeology, and extractive industries in southern Africa. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. DOI: 10.1080/0067270X.2014.909166.

Chirikure, S. (2014). Geochemistry of Ancient Metallurgy: Examples from Africa and Elsewhere. In Cerling, T and Turekian, K (eds) Treatise on Geochemistry: Vol 14 Archaeology and Anthropology. Elsevier. P. 169–189.

Chirikure, S. (2014). Southern Africa. In Renfrew, C and Bahn, P (eds) Cambridge World Prehistory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chirikure, S. (2014). Ethics and commercial archaeology in southern Africa. In Smith, C. (ed) Encyclopaedia of Archaeology. Springer.

Chirikure, S. (2014). Working with and for indigenous people. In Smith, S. (ed) Encyclopaedia of Archaeology. New York: Springer.

Chirikure, S., Manyanga, M., Pikirayi, I., & Pollard, M. (2013). New Pathways of Socio-political Complexity in Southern Africa. African Archaeological Review, 30(4), 339-366.

Chirikure, S., Pollard, M., Manyanga, M., & Bandama, F. (2013). A Bayesian chronology for Great Zimbabwe: re-threading the sequence of a vandalised monument. Antiquity, 87(337), 854-872.

Chirikure, S. (2013). Heritage conservation in Africa: The good, the bad, and the challenges. South African Journal of Science, 109(1-2), 1-3.

Koleini, F., Prinsloo, L. C., Schoeman, M. H. A., Pikirayi, I., & Chirikure, S. (2013). Characterization of the corrosion layer on iron archaeological artefacts from K2 (825–1220 AD), an archaeological site in South Africa. Studies in Conservation, 58(3), 274-282.

Bandama, F., Chirikure, S., & Hall, S. (2013). Ore sources, smelters and archaeometallurgy: exploring Iron Age metal production in the Southern Waterberg, South Africa. Journal of African Archaeology, 11(2).

Chirikure, S 2013 “The Archaeology of African Metalworking” In Mitchell, P and Lane, P (eds) The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 131-139. Book Chapter

Chirikure, S. Thondhlana, T. P. and Bandama, F. (2013. Pre-colonial mining and metalworking in southern Africa: an overview with specific reference to Zimbabwe. In Manyanga, M and Katsamudanga, S (eds). Zimbabwean Archaeology in the post-independence era. (pp. 143-158). Harare: SAPES

Manyanga, M. Pwiti, G and Chirikure, S. (2013). Forager and farmer interactions in the Shashi-Limpopo Basin in pre-colonial times: some thoughts based on observations in southern Zimbabwe and eastern Botswana. In Manyanga, M and Katsamudanga, S (eds) Zimbabwean archaeology in the post-independence era. (pp. 75-98). Harare: SAPES.

Chirikure, S. 2012. Relevance seeking or reverse archaeology. Heritage and Society 5. 30-35.

Chirikure, S., Manyanga, M., & Pollard, A. M. (2012). When science alone is not enough: Radiocarbon timescales, history, ethnography and elite settlements in southern Africa. Journal of Social Archaeology, 12(3), 356-379.

Koleini, F., Schoeman, M.H.A., Pikirayi, I. & Chirikure, S. 2012. Evidence for indigenous strip-drawing in production of wire at Mapungubwe Hill (1220-1290 AD): towards an interdisciplinary approach. Journal of Archaeological Science 39: 757-762.

Pikirayi, I., & Chirikure, S. (2011). Debating Great Zimbabwe. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 46(2), 221-231.

Chirikure, S. Heimann, R, and Killick, D. 2010 “The technology of tin smelting in the Rooiberg Valley, Limpopo Province, South Africa, ca. 1650–1850 CE” Journal of Archaeological Science 37, 7. 1656-1669

Heimann, R. B., Chirikure, S., & Killick, D. (2010). Mineralogical study of precolonial (1650–1850 CE) tin smelting slags from Rooiberg, Limpopo Province, South Africa. European Journal of Mineralogy, 22(5), 751-761.

Chirikure, S. 2010. “On evidence, facts and fantasy: on the origins of metallurgy in Africa” Journal of African Archaeology 8, 1. DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-101** Published online in March 2010 © Africa Magna Verlag, Frankfurt M

Chirikure, S., Manyanga, M., Ndoro, W,. Pwiti, G 2010 “Unfulfilled promises: community participation at some of Africa’s World Heritage Sites” International Journal of Heritage Studies 16, 1 & 2, 30-44.

Chirikure, S., Sinamai, A., Goagoses, E., Mubusisi, M., & Ndoro, W. (2010). Maritime archaeology and trans-oceanic trade: a case study of the Oranjemund shipwreck cargo, Namibia. Journal of maritime archaeology, 5(1), 37-55.

Mlaudzi, M, Schoeman, A. M and Chirikure, S 2010 “Continuing conversations at the frontier” South African Historical Journal 62 (2) 2010 ISSN: Print 0258-2473/Online 1726-1686 DOI 0.1080/02582473.2010.492982.

Manyanga, M., Pikirayi, I., & Chirikure, S. (2010). Conceptualising the Urban Mind in Pre-European Southern Africa: Rethinking Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe. The Urban Mind, 573. (Citations 3: Google Scholar)

Ndoro, W. and  Chirikure, S 2009 “Developments in the practice of heritage management in Africa” In Conserving Authenticity (eds) Stanley-Price, N and King J, ICCROM Conservation Studies 10. Rome: ICCROM. 235-247.

Chirikure, S., Burrett, R., & Heimann, R. B. (2009). Beyond furnaces and slags: a review study of bellows and their role in indigenous African metallurgical processes. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 44(2), 195-215.

Mlaudzi, M, Schoeman, A. M and Chirikure, S 2010 “Continuing conversations at the frontier” South African Historical Journal 62 (2) 2010 ISSN: Print 0258-2473/Online 1726-1686 DOI 0.1080/02582473.2010.492982

Chirikure, S. (2008). Language and Archaeology in Southern Africa: The Search for Post-colonial Reality. Archaeologies, 4(1), 182-185.

Chirikure, S., & Pikirayi, I. (2008). Inside and outside the dry stone walls: Revisiting the material culture of Great Zimbabwe. Antiquity, 82(318), 976-993.

Chirikure, S., & Pwiti, G. (2008). Community involvement in archaeology and cultural heritage management. Current Anthropology, 49(3), 467-485. (citations: 41 Google Scholar)

Chirikure, S. (2007). Metals in society Iron production and its position in Iron Age communities of southern Africa. Journal of Social Archaeology, 7(1), 72-100.

Chirikure, S. and Rehren, Th. 2006 “Iron production in pre-colonial Zimbabwe – evidence for diachronic change from Swart Village and Baranda” Journal of African Archaeology. 4 (1) 37-54

Chirikure, S. (2006). New light on Njanja iron working: towards a systematic encounter between ethnohistory and archaeometallurgy. The South African Archaeological Bulletin, 142-151. Citations 8: Google Scholar)

Chirikure, S., & Rehren, T. (2004). Ores, furnaces, slags, and prehistoric societies: aspects of iron working in the Nyanga Agricultural Complex, ad 1300–1900. African archaeological review, 21(3), 135-152 (Citations 14: Google Scholar)

Chirikure, S., Hall, S., & Maggs, T. (2008). Metals beyond frontiers: exploring the production, distribution and use of metals in the Free State grasslands, South Africa. Five Hundred Years Rediscovered: Southern African Precedents and Prospects, Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg, 103-118.

Chirikure, S. and Pikirayi, I. 2008 “The Archaeology of the Zimbabwe plateau and adjacent lowlands” Encyclopaedia of Archaeology 1.  New York: Elsevier. 6-9.

Hall, S. and Chirikure, S. 2008 “The archaeology of southern Africa, herders, farmers and metallurgists” Encyclopaedia of Archaeology 3. New York: Elsevier. 66-71.

Chirikure, S., Hall, S. L., & Miller, D. (2007). One hundred years on: What do we know about tin and bronze production in southern Africa? Metals and mines: Studies in archaeometallurgy, 112-118 (Citations 7: Google Scholar)

Rehren, T., Charlton, M., Chirikure, S., Humphris, J., Ige, A., & Veldhuijzen, H. A. (2007). Decisions set in slag: the human factor in African iron smelting. Metals and mines: studies in archaeometallurgy. Archetype, London, 211-218. (Citations 21: Google Scholar)

Chirikure, S. (2005). Cultural or physical survival? A note on the protection of archaeological heritage in contemporary Africa. BAR INTERNATIONAL SERIES, 1454, 7. (Citations 4: Google Scholar)

Chirikure, S., & Paynter, S. (2002). A metallurgical investigation of metalworking remains from Snettisham, Norfolk. English Heritage, Centre for Archaeology (Citations 3: Google Scholar)

Chirikure, S. 2004. A review of studies of iron working in southern Africa. In Chami, F, Pwiti, G and Radimilahy, C. (eds). The African Archaeological Network: Reports and a review. Dar es Salam: Dar es Salam University Press. 161 – 179.

Chirikure, S. 2001, Pwiti, G., Pikirayi, A comparative study of Khami pottery Zimbabwe. In Pwiti, G and Chami, F. (eds). Southern Africa and the Swahili World. Dar es Salam: Dar es Salam University Press. 131-146



Chirikure, S. (2015). Metals in society: indigenous African metallurgy in a global perspective. New York: Springer.

Chirikure, S. 2010. Indigenous mining and metallurgy in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chirikure, S, Delius, P, Esterhuysen, M, Mlaudzi, M, Schoeman, 2011. A. Mapungubwe reconsidered. Johannesburg: MISTRA.


Books in Press/Preparation

Ndoro, W, Chirikure, S and Deacon, J (eds) In press. Theory in African Heritage. London: Routledge (published late 2014/early 2015)

Chirikure, S Preparation. Rethinking Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Africa. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. Society and Technology Series.