My research centers on the analysis of ancient technological systems, covering issues of innovation, technological choices, organization of production, and adoption processes. Geographically, I specialize in the archaeology of Western Asia and the Ancient Near East, with a particular interest in the Caucasus mountains. Methodologically, I use a combination of survey, excavation and natural science laboratory techniques (especially microscopy and chemical analysis) to address archaeological and anthropological questions about the past.
My current field and laboratory projects focus on technological and social transformations during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age in the South Caucasus. In particular, I am interested in how metal production was organized and how new innovations such as iron were impacted by existing technological systems. I direct the international collaborative project "Archaeological Research in Kvemo Kartli" (Project ARKK), which examines craft production and social organization in an ore-rich foothill zone. Through the comprehensive examination of Late Bronze and Early Iron Age societies in this region, I seek to understand how innovations spread through mountainous regions like the Caucasus.
The Metal behind the Myths: Iron Metallurgy in the Southeastern Black Sea Region
ERB-SATULLO, N, Gilmour, BJJ, Khakhutaishvili, N
The southeastern Black Sea area is a key region for the history of iron metallurgy. Classical texts often mention the people living in this area as producers, and occasionally, inventors of iron metallurgy. Archaeological survey and scientific analysis of production debris provides the first detailed investigation of iron technologies in the region during the mid-late first millennium BC and the Medieval period. Though the dates of the sites no longer support previous claims for the earliest iron smelting, the remains do provide insight into metallurgical tradition that inspired such admiration in the Greco-Roman world.