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Iron production in the Western Roman Empire: A diachronic study of technology and society based on two archaeological sites

Fillery-Travis, Ruth; (2016) Iron production in the Western Roman Empire: A diachronic study of technology and society based on two archaeological sites. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis presents the results of a two-pronged research methodology examining iron smelting in the Western Roman Empire. It combines exploration of epigraphic, literary and archaeological evidence into the contexts of iron production, with archaeometric analyses of a suite of debris and raw materials drawn from two sites of Roman period iron smelting in the Western Empire: Clatworthy in the southwest of the UK where smelting spanned the early 1st to late 2nd /early 3rd centuries, and Semlach-Eisner in the Carinthia region of Austria where ferrum Noricum was produced during the early 1 st to early 4th centuries AD. By combining these two areas of research, variation in iron smelting at single sites over comparatively short periods of time was detected, and where evidence was sufficient, these were linked to fluctuations in the social, economic and other contexts. Sources of disruption most visible included the political upheaval of the mid-to-late 3rd century AD, and the change in administrative structure and increase in state oversight seen from the late 2nd century AD onwards. More localised fluctuations were discerned, though these remained difficult to resolve at both sites due to the limited Roman period archaeological evidence for the immediate regions. Exploring the context of production led to the development of a more pluralistic view of ownership and control of iron smelting in the Western Roman Empire, with private ownership and state taxation playing an important role. A review and synthesis of the available literary and archaeological evidence for ferrum Noricum and the archaeometric analyses of the Semlach-Eisner site allowed this to be identified as a heterogeneous steely product produced in a slag-tapping bloomery furnace, the production of which likely benefited from the manganese-bearing ores present in the region. In addition, preliminary evidence of a trend towards cohesion in iron smelting across the Western Roman Empire was identified in the physical remains of smelting, raw material selection and smelting techniques.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Iron production in the Western Roman Empire: A diachronic study of technology and society based on two archaeological sites
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received.
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476197
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