The role of iron in the emergence of Iron Age states in North Africa and the Near East has been poorly understood due to a paucity of contemporary, diachronic ferrous archaeometallurgical data. Excavations at Phoenician and Punic Carthage in the 2000s recovered one of the largest and most diverse corpora of Iron Age iron production material culture from North Africa and the Near East, spanning the entire history of Carthage from its Tyrian colonial foundations to its destruction by Rome (historical dates 814-146 BC). Analysis of the materials employing metallography, portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (pXRF), and variable pressure scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy x-ray dispersive spectroscopy (VPSEM-EDS) indicates that Carthaginian smiths were smelting and smithing wrought iron and steel as an exchange good or tribute commodity to Tyre and the Assyrian empire, as well as producing, refining, and consuming tin and arsenical bronzes, leaded bronzes, lead, and cobalt. Archaeological evidence demonstrates a state industry of iron production, including the commissioning, decommissioning, and outsourcing of metallurgical precincts. There is an overwhelming difference exhibited between output capacity at industrial and household production sites. Epigraphic evidence in Punic illustrates the inherent economic and familial affiliations between the Carthaginian state and metalworkers. Ironsmiths, bronze casters, and goldsmiths were privileged engineers of one of the state's most strategic industries, and were stratified in a hierarchy of technical specialties and ranks. In order to conserve fuel and succeed in properly vitrifying ore or bloom impurities into slag, they recycled industrial byproducts in the form of murex shells from purple dye production as a metallurgical flux and lined the furnaces with quartz-rich heat insulation. Carthage was one colony in the Phoenician commodity procurement network, whose task it was to convert iron blooms into final products. By the time this colony became independent of Tyre ca. 650-550 BC, the smiths of Carthage already had around a century of expertise in the production of iron and steel implements which gave the state a competitive advantage in the strategic arena of ferrous technologies and the formation of empire.