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This ethnographic case study focuses on part-time independent specialists who mined iron ore, smelted ore into raw iron, and forged raw iron into objects in the pre-colonial and early colonial polity of Toro in western Uganda. Since a small sub-set of these iron workers were also attached to the Toro omukdma, or king, the social identities of Toro iron workers in different contexts are explored. Essential to both the effective practice of their craft and to their social identities, however, was the use of esoteric, non-technical knowledge. Details of the rules and rituals practiced during iron working, as well as the possible archaeological manifestations of such activities, are also examined.