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Mike Charlton

My research focuses on the chemical and microstructural analysis of ironmaking residues to address questions concerning technology, provenance, economics, and human-environment interactions. I am particularly interested in the development of quantitative methods that bridge the gap between the data generated by materials analysis and the theoretical interests of anthropological archaeologists. My PhD thesis combined cultural transmission theory with materials science and archaeology to investigate the evolution of iron smelting technology in northwest Wales between the Iron Age and the Late Middle Ages. Using data obtained by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and optical microscopy for slag and other residues, I was able to characterize ironmaking recipes, identify changes across production phases and explain observed patterns as a consequence of social learning constraints and economic biases. Most of my present research is aimed at the development and application of iron provenance strategies utilizing multivariate comparisons of slag inclusion and smelting slag chemistry. Goals of this work include the identification of production and exchange networks as well as establishing links between iron production recipes and iron quality. In addition, I have contributed to research involving the chemical analysis of slag from Uganda, Luxembourg and Cambodia dating from prehistory through at least the nineteenth century. I have also participated in a number of experimental ironmaking projects and analyzed the chemistry of their components and products (ore, furnace clays, fuel ash and slag).

Research Interests

  • Archaeological science (especially archaeometallurgy and materials science approaches)
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Evolutionary archaeology
  • Economic archaeology
  • Quantitative archaeology
  • European Prehistory
  • Archaeology of Britain
  • Birch, T., M. F. Charlton, L. Biggs, Z. A. Stos-Gale and M. Martinón-Torres, In Press. A valued cargo: technology and provenance of the iron, tin, and lead. In G. Milne and D. Sully (Eds), An Armed Elizabethan Merchantman Wrecked in the Thames: Cargo, Contents and Context. Gresham Ship Project volume 2.
  • Pryce, T. O., M. Hendrickson, K. Phon, S. Chan, M. F. Charlton, S. Leroy, P. Dillmann, Q. Hua, In Review. The Iron Kuay of Cambodia: tracing the role of peripheral populations in Angkorian to colonial Cambodia via a 1200 year old industrial landscape. Journal of Archaeological Science.
  • Charlton, M. F., S. J. Shennan, Th. Rehren, and P. Crew, 2013. Evolutionary analysis of ironmaking slag. In J. Humphris and Th. Rehren (Eds.), World of Iron, 288-295. London: Archetype Publications.
  • Charlton, M. F., P. Crew, Th. Rehren, and S. J. Shennan, 2013. Measuring variation in iron production slags: an empirical evaluation of group-identification procedures. In J. Humphris and Th. Rehren (Eds.), World of Iron, 421-430. London: Archetype Publications.
  • Charlton, M. F., E. Blakelock, M. Martinón-Torres, and T. Young, 2012. Investigating the production provenance of iron artifacts with multivariate methods. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39, 2280-2293.
  • Crew, P., M. F. Charlton, P. Dillmann, P. Fluzin, C. Salter, and E. Truffaut, 2012. Cast iron from a bloomery furnace. In J. Hošek, H. Cleere and Ľ. Mihok (Eds.), The Archaeometallurgy of Iron – Recent Developments in Archaeological and Scientific Research, 239-262. Praha, Laboratore ARU AVCR.
  • Charlton, M. F., P. Crew, Th. Rehren, and S. Shennan, 2010. Explaining the evolution of ironmaking recipes—An example from northwest Wales. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 29, 352-367.
  • Charlton, M. F., 2009. Identifying iron production lineages: a case study in northwest Wales. In S J Shennan (Ed.), Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution, 133-144. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Charlton, M. F., 2007. Identifying and explaining chemical variation in ironworking slag: a multivariate approach. In P Crew and S Crew (Eds.), Early Ironworking in Europe II: Archaeology, Technology and Experiment, 47-49. Blaenau Ffestiniog: Plas Tan y Bwlch.
  • Crew, P. and M. F. Charlton, 2007. The anatomy of a furnace...and some of its ramifications, In S La Niece, D Hook, and P Craddock (Eds.), Metals and Mines: Studies in Archaeometallurgy, 219-225. London: Archetype Publications.
  • Rehren, Th., M. F. Charlton, S. Chirikure, J. Humphris, A. Ige and H. A. Veldhuijzen, 2007. Decisions set in slag—the human factor in African iron smelting. In S La Niece, D Hook, and P Craddock (Eds.), Metals and Mines: Studies in Archaeometallurgy, 211-218. London: Archetype Publications.

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