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AN ETHNOARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY OF HIDE WORKING WITH IRON SCRAPERS IN EAST GOJJAM, NORTH WESTERN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0101-02]
In northwestern Ethiopia, hide working is a skilled practice that involves turning raw hides into processed leather products. Hide workers used iron blades in wood hafts for scraping with plant oils for hair removal, softening, and coloring the hides. The study uniquely focuses on the specialized use of iron scrapers, which establishes a strong relationship between hide workers and ironsmiths who are the sole suppliers of the tool. No archaeological record relating to iron hide working scrapers nor the process of smelting and smith of iron is available for Ethiopia except recovery of iron slags from some Aksumite sites. This paper offers ethnographic study and description (chain operatoire) of the procurement, production, and use of hides with iron scrapers among the Amhara living in Enarj Enawga and Enemay districts of northwestern Ethiopia. The objective was to reveal details about the production, use, and discard of hides and iron scrapers. I focus on how the local history of changes in raw material use for the scraping blade, and how tools are produced by iron smiths and subsequently hafted, transformed in shape and size through use, recycled into other tools, and eventually discarded by hide workers.