Dr Louise IlesLouise Iles photo

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

PhD (2011, University College London)

email address: l.iles@sheffield.ac.uk

Telephone: 0114 22 22951

Department Address:

Department of Archaeology
University of Sheffield
Minalloy House
10 – 16 Regent Street
S1 3NJ
United Kingdom



I studied for my undergraduate degree in archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL between 2001 and 2004. After graduating, I spent six months as a graduate attaché at the British Institute in Eastern Africa in Nairobi, working on various research projects across east Africa. Once back in the UK, I returned to UCL to join the MSc programme ‘The Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials’, followed by a PhD that examined the trajectory of iron production in western Uganda.

Between 2013 and 2015 I was a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of York and the School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, where I worked with Professor David Killick. I joined the University of Sheffield in May 2016 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow.

Professional Roles

Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute


Research interests

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

I am interested in the networks through which technology spreads, the relationship between iron production and the environment, and the role of gender in technologies, as well as the interplay between archaeological, historical and ethnographic datasets.

My current research examines the spread of iron production technology through the Old World, using statistical modelling of radiocarbon dates.


Current collaborations

  • Iron working in Pare, Tanzania Paul Lane (Uppsala University) Daryl Stump (University of York)
  • 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

Selected publications

Iles, L. Pre-published online. Iron metallurgy’s role in transforming global woodlands. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (DOI 10.1007/s10816-015-9266-7)

Iles, L. and Lane, P. 2015. Iron production in second millennium AD pastoralist contexts on the Laikipia Plateau, Kenya. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 50: 372-401

Iles, L. 2014. The exploitation of manganese-rich ‘ore’ to smelt iron in Mwenge, western Uganda, from the mid second millennium AD. Journal of Archaeological Science 49: 423-441

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, pp193-216

Iles, L. 2013. The development of iron technology in precolonial western Uganda. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 48: 65-90

Iles, L. and Martinón-Torres, M. 2009. Pastoralist iron production on the Laikipia Plateau, Kenya: wider implications for archaeometallurgical studies. Journal of Archaeological Science 36: 2314-2326