Nilo-Ethiopian Studies No.14

Nilo-Ethiopian Studies No.14 (2010)


We documented the reconstruction by local blacksmiths of obsolete traditional steelmaking methods in Dime, southwestern Ethiopia, and metallurgically analyzed the materials and products associated with this technology. The steelmaking operation was successfully recreated in 2004, including mining, furnace construction, and charcoal production. The produced sponge iron had a yield ratio of about 40%, contained 0.31-0.48 mass percent carbon, and lacked impurities. The collected slag contained typical components {iron, silicon, aluminum, potassium, phosphorous, titanium, manganese}. The blacksmiths used three kinds of iron ore (balt, bullo, gachi) that consisted primarily of goethite [α-FeO(OH)] and kaolinite (A12O3・2SiO2・ 2H20); white inclusions in gachi contained calcium phosphate hydrate [Ca3(P04)2・xH2O]. The local blacksmiths specifically preferred gachi for steelmaking; the reasons for this selection were discussed from the viewpoint of slag-forming ability. Comparison of Dime steelmaking with other traditional steelmaking methods confirmed the independent development of geographically specialized knowledge and steelmaking techniques in Dime, as in Europe and Japan.

Key words: steelmaking, Ethiopia, metallurgy, iron ore, blacksmith


The Daasanach have fought with four neighboring pastoral groups, viewed as "enemies" (kiz), for more than a half-century. The Daasanach claim that their primary motive for going to war is the demonstration of masculinity, allowing men to be recognized as "brave" by community members. Various cultural apparatuses praise the "brave man"who kills a member of a kiz group and who raids their livestock. Nevertheless, men do not homogeneously mobilize for war. In this paper, I examine (1) the ideology that motivates men to go to war, (2) individual experiences of the battlefield and how reflection on those experiences affect an individual's choice of action when the next war arises, and (3) how people accept others' decisions to go to or abstain from a war.

Key words: violence, subject, individuality, masculinity, East African pastoral society


A type of raid known as the Gaz occurred in northeastern Ethiopia in 1941-1942. The raiders, from Wajirat and Raya Azebo in southern Tigray and northern Wollo, attacked the Mar, causing chaos in this region. The raiding coincided with the beginning of the British-supported reconstruction of the Ethiopian empire following five years of Italian occupation. Attempts to stop the raiding were marked by administrative, organizational, and financial difficulties. This analysis of the Gaz describes the internal difficulties and social disturbances faced by the Ethiopian government and British military and the reactions to the political and social changes resulting from the withdrawal of the Italians and the reconstruction of the empire.

Key words: Tigray, Wollo, raiding, Gaz, Wajirat, Raya Azebo, Mar, history