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Ancient Ferrous Metallurgy Sites of Burkina Faso

Ancient Ferrous Metallurgy Sites of Burkina Faso
This property is composed of five elements located in different provinces of the country. It includes about fifteen standing, natural-draught furnaces, several other furnace structures, mines and traces of dwellings. Douroula, which dates back to the 8th century BCE, is the oldest evidence of the development of iron production found in Burkina Faso. The other components of the property – Tiwêga, Yamané, Kindibo and Békuy – illustrate the intensification of iron production during the second millennium CE. Even though iron ore reduction –obtaining iron from ore – is no longer practiced today, village blacksmiths still play a major role in supplying tools, while taking part in various rituals.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Sites de métallurgie ancienne du fer du Burkina Faso
Ce bien, composé de cinq éléments situés dans différentes provinces du pays, comprend une quinzaine de fourneaux debout à tirage naturel, plusieurs bases de fourneaux, des mines et des traces d’habitations. Remontant au VIIIsiècle AEC, Douroula est le témoin le plus ancien du développement de la production de fer recensé au Burkina Faso. Les autres composantes du bien - Tiwêga, Yamané, Kindibo et Békuy  – illustrent l’intensification de la production de fer au cours du IIe millénaire EC. Même si la réduction de fer – obtention de fer à partir du minerai –  n’est plus pratiquée aujourd’hui, les forgerons des villages jouent encore un rôle important en fournissant des outils et en prenant part à de nombreux rituels.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

مواقع صناعة تعدين الحديد القديمة في بوكينا فاسو
حوالي 15 موقداً قائماً حتى اليوم، وعدداً من الأفران، والمناجم وبعض آثار المساكن. وإذا ما عدنا إلى القرن الثامن قبل الميلاد، تعد قرية "دورولا" من أقدم العناصر التي تقف شاهدة على تطور صناعة تعدين الحديد في بوركينا فاسو. وتوضح العناصر الأخرى في الموقع - تيويغا وياماني وكينديبو وبيكوي - تكثيف صناعة الحديد في الألفية الثانية بعد الميلاد. وعلى الرغم من أن الحد من الحديد – تصنيع الحديد من المواد الخام - لم يعد يمارس اليوم، إلّا أن الحدادين في القرى لا يزالون يضطلعون بدور هام في توفير المعدات الحديدية والمشاركة في العديد من الطقوس.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

布基纳法索古冶铁遗址
该遗址由5个遗产点组成,分布于布基纳法索的不同省份,包含15个立式炉灶、若干熔炉基座、矿坑及居住遗迹。Douroula是布基纳法索最早(公元前8世纪)进行冶铁活动的场所。Tiwga、Yamane、Kindibo和Bekuy则见证了公元1000年后当地日益密集的冶铁活动。尽管如今已不再使用这些古老的冶铁技术,当地村镇的铁匠仍在提供生产工具、举办仪式活动中发挥着重要作用。

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Памятники древней металлургии
Этот объект, состоящий из пяти элементов, расположенных в разных регионах страны, включает около пятнадцати вертикальных печей, несколько других печных конструкций, шахты и остатки жилищ. Основанный в VIII веке до н. э., город Дурула является старейшим свидетельством развития производства железа в Буркина-Фасо. Другие элементы объекта – Тивега, Ямане, Киндибо и Бекуй – наглядно иллюстрируют интенсификацию производства железа во II тыс. н. э. Несмотря на то, что метод восстановления железа из руды больше не практикуется в наше время, деревенские кузнецы по-прежнему играют важную роль в поставках инструментов и проведении различных ритуалов.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Sitios de la antigua metalurgia del hierro de Burkina Faso

Integrado por cinco elementos situados en diferentes provincias del país, este bien cultural comprende unos quince hornos aún en pie y varias estructuras de minas y forjas, así como vestigios de viviendas. El elemento situado en Durula data del siglo VIII a.C. y constituye el testimonio más antiguo del desarrollo de la producción de hierro hallado en Burkina Faso. Los cuatro elementos restantes de este bien cultural, situados en Tiwega, Yamané, Kindibo y Bekuy respectivamente, son ilustrativos de la intensificación de la metalurgia del hierro durante el segundo milenio de nuestra era. Aunque hoy en día ya no se practica la reducción indirecta de los minerales férreos para la obtención del hierro, los herreros de las localidades rurales siguen desempeñando un importante papel en la fabricación de herramientas y practican numerosos rituales vinculados a la siderurgia.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

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Tiwêga furnace, near Kaya © DSCPM/MCAT
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The five components of the property bear witness to the ancient nature and importance of iron production, and its impact on pre-colonial societies in the Sahelian zone of Burkina Faso. Dated to the 8th century BCE, Douroula bears the most ancient testimony to the development of iron production currently identified in Burkina Faso, and illustrates this first and relatively early phase of the development of iron production in Africa. Tiwêga, Yamané, Kindibo and Békuy all have remarkably well conserved iron ore smelting furnaces. They are also the very rare sites in Burkina Faso to have furnaces in elevation. They are massive production sites that, through their scale, illustrate the intensification of iron production during the second millennium AD, at a time when Western African societies were becoming increasingly complex. The property is directly associated with living traditions embodied by the blacksmiths at Yamané, Kindibo and Douroula. These traditions are expressed today by symbolic values linked to iron technology among the communities of descendants of the blacksmiths and metallurgists.

Criterion (iii): The ancient ferrous metallurgy sites bear exceptional testimony to a unique tradition of iron ore smelting, passing on to today’s Burkina Faso communities a rich technical and cultural heritage. Douroula illustrates this first phase of iron production development in Africa, and demonstrates that the iron production technology was already widely disseminated by around 500 BCE across the whole region. Tiwêga, Yamané, Kindibo and Békuy are massive production sites that illustrate iron production throughout the Sahelian zone of Burkina Faso in the second millennium AD.

Criterion (iv): The ancient ferrous metallurgy sites are outstanding examples that illustrate the variety of traditional iron ore smelting techniques in Burkina Faso. The furnaces have conserved all or almost all of their elevation, and have morphological features that enable their differentiation. Other remains are associated with the furnaces, such as the huge assemblages of slag and traces of mining extraction, together with technical traditions that are still alive today. The very ancient appearance of this technology in global terms has had very significant consequences for the history of the African peoples.

Criterion (vi): The ancient ferrous metallurgy sites of Burkina Faso are directly associated with living traditions embodied by the socioprofessional group of the blacksmiths. These traditions are expressed today by symbolic values linked to iron technology in the communities that descend from the blacksmiths and metallurgists. As the masters of fire and iron, the blacksmiths perpetuate ancestral rites and social practices that confer on them an important role in their communities at Yamané, Kindibo and Douroula.

Integrity

Within their boundaries the ancient ferrous metallurgy sites contain all the essential attributes of Outstanding Universal Value. They have all been preserved in their integrity and in their environment, with no major disruption down the centuries. No furnace has been dismantled, moved or damaged by vandalism. Only the furnace base at Douroula with the earliest dating has been physically protected. The distance at which dwellings are located, and the sacred nature of these zones, which are connected to the blacksmiths, are a guarantee of the protection of integrity. Nevertheless, the conditions of integrity are vulnerable because of soil erosion by water and wind, drought cycles and in some cases desertification, the colonisation of some furnaces by termites and trees, and small-scale gold mining.

Authenticity

The sites bear witness to continuity of production over more than 2700 years, to mastery of the processes of iron smelting and transformation, and to the essential contribution of this technology to the history of African settlement, and not only to the history of the peoples of Burkina Faso. The five metallurgy sites of the property express Outstanding Universal Value in terms of the age of the phenomenon, the form of the smelting structures, the completeness of the metallurgical complex elements, the diversity and richness of the architectural techniques, and the blacksmith traditions that are still alive today. The limited state of documentation in the property zones and in the buffer zones however means that the conditions of authenticity are vulnerable. Maintaining authenticity should be an important priority in the management of the property, to ensure the resilience of smithing traditions.

Management and protection requirements

The property is protected at national level by a set of laws, and by traditional protection provided by local communities on the basis of customary law. Management is also ensured at local level by communities, except for the site of Békuy, located in the Maro forest reserve.

A management system, drawn up for the period 2018-2022, is based on the management plans for each of the five sites, and constitutes the main sustainable management tool for the property. The property is managed in terms of reflection and orientations by a National Management Committee and in practical terms by the Listed World Heritage Sites Department. The national management committee exercises authority and control for all questions relating to the sites. At the level of each individual site, a local committee has been set up to ensure the sustainable management of the property by the local communities. The committee is guided by the site management plan and the orientations of the national management committee.