Copper was highly valued in sub-Saharan Africa for jewellery and as a store of wealth, but was rarely used for tools or weapons. The Central African Copperbelt is one of the world's largest copper deposits, and is known to have been mined since at least 400–600 cal CE, but has seen very little archaeological investigation. We measured lead isotope ratios and trace element concentrations in 20 copper objects, dating between ca. 650 cal CE and ca. 1200 cal CE, from two sites in the Tsodilo Hills in northwestern Botswana. The results show unequivocally that almost all derive from Copperbelt ore deposits in Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, at least 1050 km from Tsodilo. Our results are very similar to those recently obtained for a suite of 45 copper ingots, dated between 9th and 18th centuries cal CE, most of which are from cemeteries in the Upemba Depression, about 200 km north of the Copperbelt (Rademakers et al., 2019).
- Lead isotopes
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