Dr Louise Iles

BSc, MSc, PhD

Department of Archaeology

Wenner-Gren Hunt Fellow

Dr Louise Iles
Profile picture of Dr Louise Iles

Full contact details

Dr Louise Iles
Department of Archaeology
Minalloy House
10-16 Regent Street
S1 3NJ

I joined the University of Sheffield in 2016 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Department of Archaeology, mapping the development of early iron production in sub-Saharan Africa. I am now a Wenner-Gren Hunt Fellow, completing a writing project that explores gender, knowledge, innovation and participation in African iron metallurgy. 

My BSc, MSc and PhD were obtained from the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, and during this time I also took part in the graduate attachment scheme of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, spending six months in eastern Africa working on various research projects. My PhD thesis examined the trajectory of iron production in western Uganda. 

After my PhD, I was a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Department of Archaeology, University of York, with a year's secondment to the School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, where I had the privilege of working in Professor David Killick's lab. My research explored the iron metallurgy of the Pare Mountains, northern Tanzania, with a particular emphasis on environmental impact. 

  • 2011- PhD – University College London
Research interests

My research focus is the iron metallurgy of sub-Saharan Africa. I've led research projects in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, but have worked on metal assemblages from around the world, including Mali, Togo, India, Cambodia, the UK and China. 

I have a particular interest in the networks through which technology spreads, the use of plants in metal technologies, and the role of gender in technology - research challenges which I explore using a combination of archaeological, ethnographic and archaeological science approaches. 

Current collaborations

  • Iron metallurgy in Bassar, Togo: Early Iron Age and Late Iron Age technologies- Philip de Barros (Palomar College) David Killick (University of Arizona)
  • Iron objects of Munsa and Ntusi, Uganda- Peter Robertshaw (California State University) Andrew Reid (University College London) Funded by the British Institute in Eastern Africa, and the British Society for the History of Science
Professional activities and memberships
  • Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Selected Publications

Journal Articles


  • Iles, L. 2017African iron production and iron-working technologies: methods. In: T. Spear (ed.) Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. New York: OUP
  • Iles, L. 2015. Iron production in Uganda: memories of a near-forgotten industry. In: H. Orange (ed.) Reanimating Industrial Spaces: conducting memory work in post-industrial societies. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 158-175
  • Iles, L. and Childs, S. T. 2014. Ethnoarchaeological and historical methods. In: B. Roberts and C. Thornton (eds.) Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective: methods and syntheses. New York: Springer, 193-216
  • Iles, L. 2014. The use of plants in iron production: insights from smelting remains from Buganda. In: C. Stevens, S. Nixon, M. Murray and D. Fuller (eds.) The Archaeology of African Plant Use. San Francisco: Left Coast Press, 267-274
  • Iles, L. 2013. Applying ethnographic presents to archaeological pasts: the relevance of memories of iron production in western Uganda. In: J. Humphris and Th. Rehren (eds.) The World of Iron. London: Archetype, 281-287