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Department of Archaeology

 

Biography

I have a MA in Art History and Archaeology from Université libre de Bruxelles and a specialised MA in Preventive Archaeology from Université Paul-Valery/Montpellier III and I received my PhD in Archaeology from Université libre de Bruxelles in 2018. I have been involved over the past years in several research programs in Europe and Africa, and I have conducted archaeological fieldwork in Central Africa. My main field of interest is the history of techniques in Central Africa, with a focus on the production and the use of copper in Central Africa, and their link with the socio-political context.

Research

My research focuses on the studies of smelting techniques and copper trade. The surveys and excavation I have conducted in the Niari Basin (South Republic of Congo), allowed me to build the first chrono-cultural sequence for copper production in this area. In the meantime, I have also been involved in research on the trade of the copper ingots produced in Central Africa, including chemical and lead isotope analyses to develop provenance studies in the area. My current project, ArCAN (Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 890896), aims at investigating the history of long-distance exchange networks during 2nd millennium AD by studying the exchange from and to the copper deposits in the Niari Basin (southern Republic of Congo) and in the Copperbelt (south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo). The main source of evidence is the material culture associated with the copper production. Metal and ceramics artefacts are studied through an interdisciplinary approach in order to provide information on trade networks as well as on exchange of knowledge and ideas. The investigation will result in the reconstruction over the last millennium of the exchange networks of copper, and of the socio-economic spaces of which they were a part.

Publications

Key publications: 

Selected publications (* peer-reviewed)

*Nikis, Nicolas. 2020. ‘Copper and Expression of Power and Prestige in Central Africa’. In Peace, Power & Prestige. Metal Arts in Africa, edited by Susan Cooksey, 222–41. Gainesville: Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida.

*Rademakers, Frederik W., Nicolas Nikis, Thierry De Putter, and Patrick Degryse. 2019. ‘Provenancing Central African Copper Croisettes: A First Chemical and Lead Isotope Characterisation of Currencies in Central and Southern Africa’. Journal of Archaeological Science 111: 105010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2019.105010.

*Rademakers, Frederik W., Nicolas Nikis, Thierry De Putter, and Patrick Degryse. 2018. ‘Copper Production and Trade in the Niari Basin (Republic of Congo) during the 13th to 19th Centuries CE: Chemical and Lead Isotope Characterization’. Archaeometry 60 (6): 1251–70. https://doi.org/doi:10.1111/arcm.12377.

*Nikis, Nicolas. 2018. ‘Production et Commerce Du Cuivre : Le Cas Du Bassin Du Niari Aux 13e et 14e Siècles AD’. In Une Archéologie Des Provinces Septentrionales Du Royaume Kongo, edited by B. Clist, P. de Maret, and K. Bostoen, 391–99. Oxford: Archaeopress.

*Nikis, Nicolas. 2018. ‘Prospections et Sondages Dans Les Zones Cuprifères de Boko-Songho et Mindouli (République Du Congo)’. In Une Archéologie Des Provinces Septentrionales Du Royaume Kongo, edited by B. Clist, P. de Maret, and K. Bostoen, 215–28. Oxford: Archaeopress.

*Cranshof, Els, Nicolas Nikis, and Pierre de Maret. 2018. ‘Ceramics Decorated with Woven Motifs: An Archaeological Kongo Kingdom Identifier?’ In The Kongo Kingdom: Origins, Dynamics and Cosmopolitan Culture of an African Polity, edited by Koen Bostoen and Inge Brinkman, 165–96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

*Nikis, Nicolas, and Alexandre Livingstone Smith. 2017. ‘Copper, Trade and Polities: Exchange Networks in Southern Central Africa in the 2nd Millennium CE’. Journal of Southern African Studies 43 (5): 895–911. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2017.1356123.

Other publications: 

*Livingstone Smith, Alexandre, Els Cornelissen, Cecile de Francquen, Nicolas Nikis, Florias Mees, John Tshibamba Mukendi, Hans Beeckman, Nils Bourland, and Wannes Hubau. 2017. ‘Forests and Rivers: The Archaeology of the North Eastern Congo’. Quaternary International 448: 95–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.10.010.

*Haour, Anne, Sam Nixon, Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Nicolas Nikis, and David Kay. 2018. ‘Pottery’. In Two Thousand Years in Dendi, Northern Benin. Archaeology, History and Memory, edited by Anne Haour, 139–73. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph Series. Leiden: Brill.

*Livingstone Smith, Alexandre, Nicolas Nikis, Louis Champion, and Anne Haour. 2018. ‘Stratigraphy and Dating: Excavation Units and Associated Dates’. In Two Thousand Years in Dendi, Northern Benin. Archaeology, History and Memory, edited by Anne Haour, 132–38. Journal of African Archaeology Monograph Series 13. Leiden: Brill.

Thomas, Nicolas, and Nicolas Nikis. 2018. ‘Fondre des cloches au village’. In Aimargues - Madame - Saint-Gilles Le Vieux. Missignac, Villa Médiévale et Ses Abords (Ve-XIIIe s.). Rapport Final d’opération. Tome 1, Volume 4, edited by Odile Maufras, Jérôme Hernandez, Marie Rochette, and Benjamin Thomas, 7–42. Nîmes: Inrap Méditerranée.

*Nikis, Nicolas. 2017. ‘Case Study: Copper Ingots in Central Africa’. In Field Manual for African Archaeology, edited by A. Livingstone Smith, E. Cornelissen, O. P. Gosselain, and S. MacEachern, 197–201. Tervuren: Royal Museum for Central Africa.

Nikis, Nicolas, and Louis Champion. 2014. ‘Fouilles, Prospections, et Prélèvements Archéobotaniques Dans Les Zones Cuprifères de Mindouli et Boko-Songho En République Du Congo’. Nyame Akuma 82: 73–83.

Nikis, Nicolas, and Thierry De Putter. 2015. ‘Recherches Géo-Archéologiques Dans Les Zones Cuprifères Du Bassin Du Niari En République Du Congo’. Nyame Akuma 84: 142–53.

Other Professional Activities

College Research Associate, Homerton College

Job Titles

Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Fellow

General Info

Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Socio-Politics of the Past
Artefact Analysis & Technology
Archaeometallurgy

Contact Details

Room 1.7, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Downing Street
Cambridge
CB2 3ER

Affiliations

Person keywords: 
central Africa
copper metallurgy
exchange networks
Subjects: 
Archaeological Science
Archaeology
Themes: 
Material Culture
Geographical areas: 
Africa
Periods of interest: 
Iron Age
Other Historical