Despite the notorious designation as ‘The Birmingham of Africa’, and a handful of sensational early publications, until recently little was known about the iron technologies of Meroe, one of Africa’s greatest iron production centres. After a decade of excavations, experiments and analyses, highlights from our ongoing efforts to understand Meroe’s iron production and iron producers, and the role and impact these played in the broader context of the Kingdom of Kush, will be presented. To explore possible socio-political nuances of Meroitic iron production further, the results of our excavations of the so-called Apedemak Temple will be outlined. This temple, originally excavated by John Garstang, is particularly fascinating because it was erected on top of one of Meroe’s largest iron slag mounds. Our results provide insights into when, how and why this location was selected for the construction of the temple dedicated to one of the most important Meroitic gods.
Dr Jane Humphris is the Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA), one of the British International Research Institutes (BIRI), and Senior Research Associate at the McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge. She holds a PhD in African Archaeometallurgy and an MA in African Archaeology from UCL, and a BA in Ancient History and Archaeology from the University of Manchester. Her main research focuses on the ancient iron production technologies of the Kingdom of Kush in modern day Sudan, where she works at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Royal City of Meroe. She has also run archaeological research projects in Ethiopia and Rwanda. In Sudan, Jane and her team have conducted major archaeological and experimental research, and have developed and implemented comprehensive, diverse programmes of community engagement and capacity building activities, in addition to site management strategies.
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