The aims of the research project can be broken down into three specific areas, each of which addresses one aspect of a study which brings together compositional analysis of historical Egyptian artefacts, textual analysis of contemporary writings, and a palaeontological investigation of fossil bones.
1. What was the early perception of iron in ancient Egypt? Was iron rarely used because it was considered as a gift from the gods, or merely difficult to work compared with bronze? Here we explore why a significant number of Egyptian artefacts dating from the prehistoric onwards exist in the form of symbolic high-status funerary objects, indicating iron was valued for reasons beyond its practical material properties.
2. What theological role did iron have prior to the Egyptian Iron Age? Here we examine why iron is frequently referred to in the context of components of mortal remains of gods, such as the ‘iron bones of Seth’.
3. When did the ancient Egyptian ‘Iron Age’ start? What moved usage of iron from symbolic and ceremonial to functional? Here we explore the increasing number of iron artefacts with time, and assess their composition, to determine whether the source material for the objects was terrestrial rather than meteoritic.