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Category: Experimental Archaeology

More Smelting Experiments at University College Dublin

More Smelting Experiments at University College Dublin

It was Tuesday the 20th of June and the weather was approaching that rare state of the skin-melting Irish heatwave. (Yes, these things do exist. The Sun rarely gazes upon this green island, but when it does, it does so with a vengeance most vicious.) In order to ease ourselves into the spirit of the summer solstice, and to show the treacherous orb in the sky that we do not go down so easily, we ran another bloomery smelt. (I…

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An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part I: Theory

An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part I: Theory

Smelting your own iron by digging up ore, clay and sand, and turning them into a bar iron using heat and hard work alone, is a transformative process which carries much mystery and appeal. The whole act of taking what is essentially dirt and transforming it into iron and steel, which can then be turned into objects both useful and beautiful, still captivates the imagination of artisans, archaeologists and chance observers alike. I have already touched upon the topic iron…

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A Visit to the Netherlands: EAC 10

A Visit to the Netherlands: EAC 10

A week ago I visited Leiden to attend the 10th Experimental Archaeology Conference, organised by EXARC and held 20-22 April 2017. This was my first visit to the Netherlands in years, probably my first proper visit and definitely the first time that I have experienced the wonders of Leiden. EXARC is an organisation which binds together archaeological open-air museums, experimental archaeologists and others who explore ancient technologies and public engagement. Needles to say, a conference organised and attended by their…

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The Smelter’s Tale: Experimental Archaeology & Craft

The Smelter’s Tale: Experimental Archaeology & Craft

Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid — Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade. “Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall, “But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.” – Rudyard Kipling: ‘Cold Iron’ (1910) – In my Introduction to Experimental Archaeology, I have described experimental archaeology as the testing of archaeological hypotheses based on the excavated record by reproducing and using archaeological finds. In other words, testing our presumptions about…

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