This weekend, 27th-28th March 2010, I’ve been helping out at the Early Iron in Europe workshop, taking minutes. This has been extremely exciting, as the aim of the workshop is to bring together everyone involved in iron archaeometallurgy in Europe, with representatives present from more than fourteen countries.
Perhaps the most valuable part of the weekend for me was the Saturday morning, which included short presentations from each of the fourteen countries on the current understanding of early iron in their region. What was surprising was how much variation was present – both in the ancient technologies and the modern ones used to analyse them. Some countries don’t even seem to have access to a bulk XRF, let alone a microprobe. At the same time some countries have sites with 50-70 furnaces, where in Britain we’re excited just to find one!
I’ll post up a full review at some point, probably later in the week. [edit – see also Brian, who represented Ireland, thoughts on the weekend]. It’s going to take years (doesn’t it always?) but if momentum continues then eventually we’ll see a developed network of iron archaeometallurgists, and perhaps a larger European project with PhDs and post-docs.