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Variability in single smelting episodes – a pilot study using iron slag from Uganda

Humphris, J; Martinón-Torres, M; Rehren, T; Reid, A; (2009) Variability in single smelting episodes – a pilot study using iron slag from Uganda. Journal of Archaeological Science , 36 (2) 359 - 369. 10.1016/j.jas.2008.09.020.

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Abstract

Most archaeometallurgical studies of iron smelting are based on the analyses of slag fragments randomly selected from slag deposits, and assume that these samples are representative of the typical smelting conditions of the given context. However, little archaeometallurgical research has been published to explore the variability in slag composition within a single smelt, or between individual smelts at the same production site. The material used in this pilot study originates from two iron smelting sites identified in the Buganda Kingdom, Uganda, dated to the 18th and 19th centuries AD. The remains represent evidence of the industrial scale iron production that supported the growth and power of the kingdom. The slag survives in large clusters of complete blocks, in some cases weighing over 100 kg, each resulting from a single smelting episode in a pit furnace. A multi-sample analytical approach has allowed an insight into the compositional diversity within the slag from single smelting events, reflecting changing parameters in the smelting systems. The internal variation of the slag blocks is subsequently compared within and between sites, to address issues of standardisation and to differentiate two technological traditions that would appear very similar at the macroscopic level. On this basis, some sampling recommendations are made for future slag block studies.

Type: Article
Title: Variability in single smelting episodes – a pilot study using iron slag from Uganda
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2008.09.020
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2008.09.020
Language: English
Keywords: Iron, Slag, XRF, Sampling, Buganda Kingdom, Africa
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP International
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP International > UCL - Qatar
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/116448
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