The Innovation and Adoption of Iron in the Ancient Near East
Journal of Archaeological Research
© 2019, The Author(s). This review synthesizes field research, textual analysis, and archaeometric data to evaluate different explanations for the spread of iron in the ancient Near East. Current evidence supports an Anatolian origin for extractive iron metallurgy on a limited scale sometime in the early 2nd millennium BC. However, the first major expansion of iron, both in Anatolia and across the wider Near East, occurred in the late second and early first millennium BC. Explanations that place iron adoption within its broader social context are favored over those that consider material or geological properties in isolation. A recurring theme is the importance of comparative analysis, both geographically and between the iron and bronze economies, to explore how social, political, and economic conditions affected adoption patterns.