Between 2005 and 2013, new archaeometallurgical finds and features in central Nigeria resulted from several excavation campaigns conducted by the Nok research project, Goethe University, Frankfurt. This article presents the first excavation results and compares the newly generated data to the publications on the Nok iron smelting site of Taruga from 40 years ago. All newly excavated sites find close resemblance in each other in regards to dates in the middle of the first millennium BCE, furnace design, find distribution and find properties. In some cases, the finds from the Taruga valley fit in the new and homogeneous picture of Nok iron metallurgy. However, Taruga differs from the new sites in its variety of furnace design and number of furnaces.
Whereas furnace bases with a width of around one meter based on slag pits partially filled with slag seem to be the rule for all newly excavated Nok furnaces, only some furnaces at Taruga exhibit these characteristics. Furnace variability at Taruga could be explained by a longer and/or subsequent site usage through time. Modern era finds like a clay smoking pipe, the higher number of furnaces per site as well as a higher dispersion of absolute dates and the variability of furnace design could support this assumption. This paper concentrates on the archaeological context of a specific type of early iron technology in central Nigeria; ongoing archaeometric analysis of all related finds will be presented elsewhere.