"TECHNOLOGY EVOLUTION IN PRECOLONIAL RWANDA: FROM FORAGERS TO IRON SMELTERS”

Summary

The Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR) will join the worldwide community of museums to celebrate International Museum Day on 18th May 2014. For this, a temporary exhibition will be organized in one of the galleries of the Ethnographic Museum of Huye around the theme “Technology Evolution in Pre-colonial Rwanda: from Foragers to Iron Smelters”.

The exhibition will last for three months from mid-May. As implied in its title, this exhibition will display objects and images representing two main periods: the Stone Age and Iron Age. Different cultures will be illustrated by artifacts such stone tools used by Rwandans many thousands of years ago prior to the introduction of iron, or the remains of some of the oldest iron smelting furnaces in Sub-Saharan Africa which were found on the slopes of our hills and chronologically dated back to the Early Iron Age, Middle Iron Age and Late Iron Age.

Objects including hoes, knives, hammers, spears and anvils, to mention a few, will be exhibited to illustrate a wide range of skills, knowledge and techniques of experienced ironworkers in different periods. Beyond the utilitarian side of iron working technology such as contributing to the development of Rwanda through agriculture and warfare, a part of the exhibition will focus on its intangible cultural heritage through ritual and symbolic aspects and show the role of iron in the expansion and consolidation of the kingship’s institution. What will be truly exciting and fascinating though will be the fact that the visitors will experience iron smelting operations first-hand when a live replication will take place in the museum’s garden.