Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Ancient Egyptian History

Committee Chair

Suzanne Onstine

Committee Member

Peter Brand

Committee Member

Lorelei Corcoran

Committee Member

Patricia Podzorski


Thus far determining when the Iron Age occurred in Egypt has been an imprecise process with most overviews simply stating when iron first appeared, highlights of iron discoveries or when smelting began in earnest which was the 6th century BCE in the Delta. In this dissertation I employ Anthony Snodgrass's methodology to determine when it occurred. The results indicate that the height of Egypt's iron use peaked in the Roman era; by the Late Roman era they reverted to using iron for ornamental purposes in much smaller quantities. In addition, iron production may never have exceeded that of bronze which may be the hallmark of a true Iron Age. Egypt's Iron Age was clearly atypical. After possibly engaging in the earliest known experimentation with iron in the world (around 3300 BCE) they took three millennia before producing a significant number of iron goods. Then for some reason they drastically reduced much iron production. Through cross-cultural comparison and an in depth look at three time periods: the Predynastic when iron first appears in Egypt, the Late Bronze Age and Greco-Roman eras, I argue that the fact that iron was never deeply integrated into the fabric of indigenous ancient Egyptian society and crises that occurred throughout the Roman Empire were the causes of the short peak use of iron.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.