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The World of Iron at 10

By Uncategorized


Iron continues to be one of the most important materials we produce and use. For thousands of years its ductility when heated and its strength when cooled has allowed those with the necessary skills and resources, to revolutionise social, ritual, economic and political systems. From enormous buildings such as cathedrals and skyscrapers, to farmers who for millennia have used iron tools to clear land and harvest their crops; and from artful jewellery to instruments of the battlefields, the impact of iron, and its use to overcome broader societal challenges was and is, extraordinary. The diversity of innovative technological approaches to the production of iron is astounding, while traces of the ritual and symbolic nature of this metal bear testament to the mystical and powerful status that iron was often associated with in the past.

In 2009, the first ‘World of Iron’ conference set out to explore and celebrate the anthropological significance of the inception, adoption, expansion, and impact of iron production. Bringing together over 100 archaeometallurgists from around the world to present their multi-disciplinary research, the conference interlaced regional and themed sessions. It encouraged a consideration of the relationship between archaeological and archaeometallurgical studies to wider anthropological issues such as technological style; technical and social adaptation; and the evolving influences of iron on society and the physical environment. Following this successful conference, The World of Iron proceedings were published ten years ago (Humphris and Rehren, eds, 2013). Globally distributed case studies, alongside ethnographic, archaeological, experimental, materials science and anthropological approaches, reveal the rich and diverse history of this metal.

Conference proposal: The World of Iron at 10

Ten years on from the publication, this agenda-setting conference will move beyond the first by facilitating targeted discussion sessions to specifically consider the future of global archaeometallurgy, and how, by reflecting on the state of research in 2023, we can begin to link our findings across space and time to maximise our impact.

The World of Iron at 10 will synthesise the latest highest quality research being conducted across SHAPE and STEM disciplines on iron around the world, implementing a forward-looking format and aiming to develop new connections and foster the emergence of new talent. It will create a globally comparative perspective, integrating insights gained from established and emerging research methods, and provide a dedicated focus on fundamental thematic areas: invention and innovation; theoretical frameworks; scientific approaches; and environmental impact. In addition, attention will be dedicated to the pertinent theme of stakeholder engagement, where we will consider ethical, innovative and appropriate interactions and communication with communities from school children to billion-dollar mining companies with an interest in offloading CSR budget onto our discipline. By reflecting on how far we have come, we will collectively identify key research priorities to move our practice forwards as we continue through the next decade.

The event will advance the discipline of archaeometallurgy via discussion sessions chaired by leaders in the field. For example, Professor Shadreck Chirikure (University of Oxford), whose renowned work on Great Zimbabwe includes utilising Shona cultural perspectives to reinterpret the site (in addition to his extensive archaeometallurgical research portfolio), has agreed to chair Theoretical Frameworks. The Chairs will form the Scientific Committee, led by eminent archaeological material scientist David Killick (Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Arizona), whose seminal work on theory and practice has been instrumental in shaping archaeometallurgical approaches for decades. The provision of travel grants will ensure inclusive, representative and widespread participation, enabling established scholars and young researchers working around the world to stimulate an international exchange of ideas and experiences. Therefore, this well-attended and well-led conference will promote future research of the highest quality by encouraging reflection on the previous years of advances (or stagnation), and brainstorming priority research areas. The collective and collaborative nature of the discussions will in themselves likely lead to new, international, and interdisciplinary research partnerships. For the resulting publication, in addition to the conference papers, each chair will be tasked with writing up these targeted discussions in review articles that will analyse the current situation and suggest important future research foci.


–              Dr Jane Humphris, Director, BIEA; Senior Research Associate, McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge. –              Professor Thilo Rehren, A.G. Leventis Professor for Archaeological Sciences at the Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center, The Cyprus Research Institute.

Programme: HMS networking weekend Sheffield 3rd. and 4th. June 2023

By Conferences, Current Events

HMS networking weekend Sheffield 3rd. and 4th. June 2023

HMS networking weekend Sheffield 3rd and 4th June 2023

Friday 2nd June

7 pm on               Pre meeting get together at the Sheffield Tap, Sheffield Railway Station bar.


Saturday 3rd June

10:00am – 12:00pm          Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.

Lunch                   There are plenty of sandwich shops and pubs available.

2:00 – 6:00pm   A leisurely guided walk along parts of the River Don and Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, originally developed by HMS Member Brian Bastow.

If the walk is not for you the Shepherds Wheel (not that far from Abbeydale) is well worth a visit, or perhaps Weston Park Museum may be more up your street. Other options are available.

Evening               Dinner choose your own venue & companions.


Sunday 4th June

10:00am – 12noon           Wortley Top Forge – (£5 entry fee OAPs £3)

12:00 – 2:00pm                Lunch,   Choose your own venue, the café at Kelham Island Museum would be very suitable.   There is time to visit the Cementation Furnace on Hoyle Street before or after lunch.

2:15– 5:00 pm  Kelham Island Museum. Housed in a very early Electricity Power Station (1899), this features among many other exhibits a Bessemer converter.


For more information:

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet –  (

Shepherds Wheel –

Weston Park Museum –

Wortley Top Forge

Cementation furnace, Hoyle Street –,_Sheffield

Kelham Island Museum.

Please email us on with any other enquiries.


Click here to register.

HMS networking weekend Sheffield 3rd. and 4th. June 2023

By Conferences, Current Events

HMS networking weekend Sheffield 3rd. and 4th. June 2023

HMS networking weekend

Sheffield 3rd and 4th June 2023

What does everyone miss about “face to face” conferences?  It’s not so much the papers, it’s the connections we make!


The first HMS networking event will take place near Sheffield on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th June 2023.

Everyone will be responsible for their own travel, accommodation and meals – but we have some suggestions which you can find below.


The event will be free. If you are coming by car and can offer lifts between sites please indicate this on the Registration Form. It’s been some time since we’ve been able to meet in person so offering a lift might be a way to reconnect.


The outline plan is very free and easy and one can do as much or as little as one wants.  Apart from Wortley Top Forge, entrance to all sites is free.

The weekend starts with a pre-meeting get together at the Sheffield Tap, Sheffield Railway Station bar from 7 pm on Friday 2nd June.


Saturday has visits to Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet ( and a ‘Metal Industry in Sheffield along the Canal & River Don’ walk. For those less keen on a 4 hour (or shorter) walk an alternative might be the Shepherds Wheel ( , Weston Park Museum  ( or other alternative family activities.’


Sunday starts at Wortley Top Forge with a site visit: a water powered heavy iron forge whose history can be traced back to at least 1640 and has been used for bloomeries and fineries. (£5 entry fee: this is the bit that is not free. Concessionary rates may be available, but participants must pay at the gate for this element of the event.)


The Sunday afternoon visit is to Kelham Island Museum which is housed in a very early Electricity Power Station (1899) and features among may many other exhibits a Bessemer converter.


A programme can be found here.

Registration: click here.

Alternatively contact:

Suggestions for eating/drinking/accommodation can be found here.  

If more information is needed contact Eddie Birch at .

See you there.



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