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Department of Archaeology



I hold a PhD in African Archaeometallurgy and an MA in African Archaeology from UCL, and a BA in Ancient History and Archaeology from the University of Manchester. Prior to taking up the position of Senior Research Associate at Cambridge University, a role I hold alongside that of Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, for 7 years I was a researcher at UCL’s campus in Qatar. There I developed a multidisciplinary, collaborative research project investigating ancient iron production at the Royal City of Meroe in Sudan, and initiated the first archaeometallurgical research in Ethiopia. I am continuing to develop both of these projects, and the community engagement and capacity building programmes that form key aspects of the work I carry out in Africa.


My research focuses on the analysis of the waste products of iron production, using material science and experimental approaches to understand the ancient technologies and how these changed over time. Using this data my research aims to shed new light on the political, social and economic aspects of the Kingdom of Kush, from c. 900 BC to AD 700.  My research in Ethiopia has revealed Aksumite iron production which is enabling me to consider the interconnected nature of these ancient landscapes via the medium of ancient technology.



Key publications: 

Publications (peer reviewed)

2019 Humphris, J. & Eichhorn, B.: Fuel selection during long-term ancient iron production in Sudan.  Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 54 (1), 33-54.
2019 Carey, C., Stremke, F. & Humphris, J.: The ironworking remains in the royal city of Meroe: new insights on the Nile Corridor and the Kingdom of Kush.  Antiquity 93 (368): 432-449
2019 Eichhorn, B., Humphris, J., Robion-Brunner, C. & Garnier, A.  A ‘long-burning issue’: comparing woody resource use for ironworking in three major iron smelting centres of sub-Saharan Africa.  In, J. Meurers-Balke, T. Zerl and R. Gerlach (Hrsg.). Auf dem Holzweg.   Eine Würdigung für Ursula Tegtmeier. Archäologische Berichte 30 (Kerpen-Loogh 2019) 105-126.
2019 Bussert, R., Humphris, J. & Schomacker, R. 2019. Entstehung und archäologische Bedeutung oolithischer Eisenerze im Suda. Formation and archaeological significance of oolitic ironstones in Sudan. Zbl. Geol. Paläont. Teil L, Jg. 2019, Heft 2, 27-45. 
2019 Charlton, M.F. & Humphris, J.  Exploring iron making practices at Meroe, Sudan – a comparative analysis of archaeological and experimental data.  Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11 (3): 895–912. (online 2017)
2018 Humphris, J., Bussert, R., Scheibner, T. & AlShishani, F. The ancient mines of Meroe. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 53 (3), 291- 311
2018 Humphris, J., Charlton, M.F., Keen, J., Sauder, L. & F. AlShishan:  Iron smelting in Sudan: experimental archaeology at the Royal City of Meroe. Journal of Field Archaeology 4 (5): 399-416.
2017 Humphris, J. & Scheibner, T.A new radiocarbon chronology for ancient iron production in the Meroe Region of Sudan. African Archaeological Review 34: 377-413.
2017 Humphris, J. & Bradshaw, R. Understanding ‘the community’ before community archaeology. The Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage 4.3: 203-217.
2017 Ting, C. & Humphris, J. The technology and craft organisation of Kushite technical ceramic production at Meroe and Hamadab, Sudan. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 16: 34-43.
2016 Humphris, J. & Carey, C. New methods for unlocking the secrets of slagheaps: Integrating geoprospection, excavation and quantitative methods at Meroe, Sudan. Journal of Archaeological Science 70: 132-144.
Other publications: 

Non-peer reviewd Publications and Films


Teaching and Supervisions


I am involved in the teaching of the following courses: The Archaeology of Africa

Job Titles

Senior Research Associate

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Socio-Politics of the Past

Contact Details

jh2207 [at]


Person keywords: 
Ancient technologies
Kingdom of Kush
Iron production
Material Culture
Geographical areas: