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Exploring iron making practices at Meroe, Sudan – a comparative analysis of archaeological and experimental data

Humphris, JE; Charlton, M; (2017) Exploring iron making practices at Meroe, Sudan – a comparative analysis of archaeological and experimental data. Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 10.1007/s12520-017-0578-2. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Recent excavations of a Late to Post-Meroitic furnace workshop at Meroe, Sudan prompted questions concerning the use of some of its unusual design features and the nature of ironmaking practice. To begin addressing these questions, four iron smelting experiments were conducted in a purpose-built workshop modelled from the archaeological remains. Some of the goals of the campaign included identification and testing of potential ore and technical ceramic resources as well as the production of slag with characteristics that mirrored those of the archaeological deposits. The primary objective, however, was the further development of a model for Late to Post-Meroitic direct process iron production. Comparison of the microstructural and chemical characteristics of the archaeological and experimental ironmaking residues leads to a rejection of hypothesised ore sources adjacent to Meroe, support for hypothesised technical ceramic resource locations and a failure to replicate Late–Post-Meroitic smelting slag. However, the comparison also makes a strong contribution to the developing model of smelting practice at Meroe by emphasising the need to create more consistent redox conditions within the furnace, greater standardisation in preparing technical ceramics and the use of relatively lean ores (≈ 60 wt.% Fe).

Type: Article
Title: Exploring iron making practices at Meroe, Sudan – a comparative analysis of archaeological and experimental data
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s12520-017-0578-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-017-0578-2
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Iron smelting, Experimental archaeology, X-ray microanalysis, Africa, Sudan, Kush, Meroe
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10043068
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