This paper is a review of the course of research during the last century into the history of iron working in the North-Western Pontic area. It comprises three sections: a summary of the chronology and the spread of the iron working onto the study region; a description of the main research trends concerning the iron metallurgy evolution and some lines of future enquiry.
At the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century writing on the iron metallurgy was dominated by discussion on the possible role of the Scythians and of the Western Hallstattian culture in the spread of the iron artefacts in the study area. During the second half of the 20th century, due to the intensification of the archaeological excavations at a broader regional scale, new evidences pertained for an earlier use of iron in this region. The archaeological evidences consists of both iron objects and debris resulting from the metallurgical process such as slag (Babadag, Dervent), iron loops (Dervent) or tools used for manufacturing the iron artefacts (Teliţa, Vânători, Cernatu).
During this timpe span the research strategies in the Romanian archaeology have focused mainly on understanding the cultural and chronological significance of the artefacts, using mostly the typological method. Most of these studies issued by I. Nestor, M. Petrescu-Dîmboviţa, K. Horedt, A. László, Al. Vulpe and N. Boroffka have debated the spread of the iron metallurgy from the Aegean region to the Balkans and to the Lower Danube region or from the main Hallstatt area to the Western Balkans.
The other research strategy have centered on several crucial factors for understanding the „coming of the age of iron” (Wertime and Muhly 1980): the presence of ores in the study region and the technology used for processing the raw materials into finished artefacts (E. Zah, Ş. Olteanu and A. Stoia). Theirwork have produced only a few studiess of regional importance which were not correlated with other regions of influence on a much broader European scale.
In recent years, studies published by Sorin Ailincăi and Adrian Adamescu have advanced the hypothesis, based on the analysis of the old and new excavations from Dobruja and Southern Moldavia, that the established chronology and cultural evolution no longer fits into the previously established patterns. This requires a review of the origin and spread of the iron metallurgy, but also the necessity for understanding the iron technology by adding archeometrical and experimental data.