This paper describes a multifaceted approach to the investigation of iron slag heaps, focusing on one of the slag heaps at the Royal City of Meroe in Sudan. This study marries together geoprospection data (gradiometry and electrical resistivity transects), topographic data and quantitative excavation data, to provide an analysis and comparison of the total volume, slag component and slag composition of a slagheap. Significantly, the results demonstrate the limitations of using a topographic only model, but also demonstrate how volumetric modelling must be integrated within quantitative characterisation of slagheap composition. In this case, quantitative sampling of the slag deposits revealed the composition of the slag assemblage was dominated by a newly defined category of slag which has major implications for reconstructing iron technologies in the Meroitic civilisation. This research highlights the dangers of applying simplistic models and basic investigative strategies to iron slag heaps and furthers the debate on applying volumetric modelling and excavation sampling to unexcavated areas of the finite and important resource of archaeometallurgical deposit sequences.
Bibliographical note©2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
- Iron slag
- Quantitative sampling
- Volumetric modelling
- Meroitic civilisation