| Iron Age |
|↑ Bronze Age|
Ancient Near East (1200–550 BC)
South Asia (1200–200 BC)
East Asia (500 BC – AD 300)
|↓ Ancient history|
The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic) and the Bronze Age. The concept has been mostly applied to Europe and the Ancient Near East, and, by analogy, also to other parts of the Old World.
The three-age system is the categorization of history into time periods divisible by three; for example: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age; although it also refers to other tripartite divisions of historic time periods. In history, archaeology and physical anthropology, the three-age system is a methodological concept adopted during the 19th century by which artifacts and events of late prehistory and early history could be ordered into a recognizable chronology. It was initially developed by C. J. Thomsen, director of the Royal Museum of Nordic Antiquities, Copenhagen, as a means to classify the museum’s collections according to whether the artifacts were made of stone, bronze, or iron.
Human prehistory is the period between the use of the first stone tools c. 3.3 million years ago by hominins and the invention of writing systems. The earliest writing systems appeared c. 5,300 years ago, but it took thousands of years for writing to be widely adopted, and it was not used in some human cultures until the 19th century or even until the present. The end of prehistory therefore came at very different dates in different places, and the term is less often used in discussing societies where prehistory ended relatively recently.
Protohistory is a period between prehistory and history, during which a culture or civilization has not yet developed writing but other cultures have already noted its existence in their own writings. For example, in Europe, the Celts and the Germanic tribes are considered to have been protohistoric when they began appearing in Greek and Roman sources.
The duration of the Iron Age varies depending on the region under consideration. It is defined by archaeological convention, and the mere presence of some cast or wrought iron is not sufficient to represent an Iron Age culture; rather, the "Iron Age" begins locally when the production of iron or steel has been brought to the point where iron tools and weapons superior to their bronze equivalents become widespread.For example, Tutankhamun's meteoric iron dagger comes from the Bronze Age. In the Ancient Near East, this transition takes place in the wake of the so-called Bronze Age collapse, in the 12th century BC. The technology soon spread throughout the Mediterranean Basin region and to South Asia. Its further spread to Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central Europe is somewhat delayed, and Northern Europe is reached still later, by about 500 BC.
Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys with a carbon content greater than 2%. Its usefulness derives from its relatively low melting temperature. The alloy constituents affect its colour when fractured: white cast iron has carbide impurities which allow cracks to pass straight through, grey cast iron has graphite flakes which deflect a passing crack and initiate countless new cracks as the material breaks, and ductile cast iron has spherical graphite "nodules" which stop the crack from further progressing.
Wrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon content in contrast to cast iron. It is a semi-fused mass of iron with fibrous slag inclusions, which gives it a "grain" resembling wood that is visible when it is etched or bent to the point of failure. Wrought iron is tough, malleable, ductile, corrosion-resistant and easily welded. Before the development of effective methods of steelmaking and the availability of large quantities of steel, wrought iron was the most common form of malleable iron. It was given the name wrought because it was hammered, rolled or otherwise worked while hot enough to expel molten slag. The modern functional equivalent of wrought iron is mild or low carbon steel. Neither wrought iron nor mild steel contain enough carbon to be hardenable by heating and quenching.
Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, and sometimes other elements. Because of its high tensile strength and low cost, it is a major component used in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, automobiles, machines, appliances, and weapons.
The Iron Age is taken to end, also by convention, with the beginning of the historiographical record. This usually does not represent a clear break in the archaeological record; for the Ancient Near East the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire c. 550 BC (considered historical by virtue of the record by Herodotus) is usually taken as a cut-off date, and in Central and Western Europe the Roman conquests of the 1st century BC serve as marking for the end of the Iron Age. The Germanic Iron Age of Scandinavia is taken to end c. AD 800, with the beginning of the Viking Age.
The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, it was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 million square kilometers. Incorporating various peoples of different origins and faiths, it is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration, for building infrastructure such as road systems and a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services and a large professional army. The empire's successes inspired similar systems in later empires.
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire. He is known for having written the book The Histories, a detailed record of his "inquiry" on the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars. He is widely considered to have been the first writer to have treated historical subjects using a method of systematic investigation—specifically, by collecting his materials and then critically arranging them into an historiographic narrative. On account of this, he is often referred to as "The Father of History", a title first conferred on him by the first-century BC Roman orator Cicero.
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
In South Asia, the Iron Age is taken to begin with the ironworking Painted Gray Ware culture and to end with the reign of Ashoka (3rd century BC). The use of the term "Iron Age" in the archaeology of South, East and Southeast Asia is more recent, and less common, than for western Eurasia; at least in China prehistory had ended before iron-working arrived, so the term is infrequently used. The Sahel (Sudan region) and Sub-Saharan Africa are outside of the three-age system, there being no Bronze Age, but the term "Iron Age" is sometimes used in reference to early cultures practicing ironworking such as the Nok culture of Nigeria.
Ashoka, sometimes Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty, who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE. The grandson of the founder of the Maurya Dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka promoted the spread of Buddhism across ancient Asia. Considered by many to be one of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka expanded Chandragupta's empire to reign over a realm stretching from present-day Afghanistan in the west to Bangladesh in the east. It covered the entire Indian subcontinent except for parts of present-day Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. The empire's capital was Pataliputra, with provincial capitals at Taxila and Ujjain.
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south. Having a semi-arid climate, it stretches across the south-central latitudes of Northern Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. The name is derived from the Arabic word sāḥil meaning "coast" or "shore" in a figurative sense, while the name in Swahili means "coastal [dweller]" in a literal sense. However, this figurative use is unattested in Classical Arabic. The word might have been derived from the Arabic word sahl.
Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries that are fully or partially located south of the Sahara. It contrasts with North Africa, whose territories are part of the League of Arab states within the Arab world. The states of Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros and the Arabic speaking Mauritania are however geographically in sub-Saharan Africa, although they are members of the Arab League as well. The UN Development Program lists 46 of Africa’s 54 countries as “sub-Saharan,” excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.
The three-age system was introduced in the first half of the 19th century for the archaeology of Europe in particular, and by the later 19th century expanded to the archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Its name harks back to the mythological "Ages of Man" of Hesiod. As an archaeological era it was first introduced for Scandinavia by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen in the 1830s. By the 1860s, it was embraced as a useful division of the "earliest history of mankind" in generaland began to be applied in Assyriology. The development of the now-conventional periodization in the archaeology of the Ancient Near East was developed in the 1920s to 1930s. As its name suggests, Iron Age technology is characterized by the production of tools and weaponry by ferrous metallurgy (ironworking), more specifically from carbon steel.
The Ages of Man are the stages of human existence on the Earth according to Greek mythology and its subsequent Roman interpretation.
Hesiod was a Greek poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is generally regarded as the first written poet in the Western tradition to regard himself as an individual persona with an active role to play in his subject. Ancient authors credited Hesiod and Homer with establishing Greek religious customs. Modern scholars refer to him as a major source on Greek mythology, farming techniques, early economic thought, archaic Greek astronomy and ancient time-keeping.
Christian Jürgensen Thomsen was a Danish antiquarian who developed early archaeological techniques and methods.
Increasingly the Iron Age in Europe is being seen as a part of the Bronze Age collapse in the ancient Near East, in ancient India (with the post-Rigvedic Vedic civilization), ancient Iran, and ancient Greece (with the Greek Dark Ages). In other regions of Europe the Iron Age began in the 8th century BC in Central Europe and the 6th century BC in Northern Europe. The Near Eastern Iron Age is divided into two subsections, Iron I and Iron II. Iron I (1200–1000 BC) illustrates both continuity and discontinuity with the previous Late Bronze Age. There is no definitive cultural break between the 13th and 12th centuries BC throughout the entire region, although certain new features in the hill country, Transjordan and coastal region may suggest the appearance of the Aramaean and Sea People groups. There is evidence, however, of strong continuity with Bronze Age culture, although as one moves later into Iron I the culture begins to diverge more significantly from that of the late 2nd millennium.
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient Iran, Anatolia/Asia Minor and Armenian Highlands, the Levant, Cyprus and the Arabian Peninsula. The ancient Near East is studied in the fields of Near Eastern archaeology and ancient history.
After their origin in Africa, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent between 73,000 and 55,000 years ago. Settled life, which involves the transition from foraging to farming and pastoralism, began in South Asia around 7,000 BCE. At the site of Mehrgarh, Balochistan, presence can be documented of the domestication of wheat and barley, rapidly followed by that of goats, sheep, and cattle. By 4,500 BCE, settled life had become more widely prevalent, and eventually evolved into the Indus Valley Civilization, an early civilization of the Old world, contemporaneous with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. It flourished between 2,500 BCE and 1900 BCE in what today is Pakistan and north-western India, and was noted for its urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage, and water supply.
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns along with associated commentaries on liturgy, ritual and mystical exegesis. It is one of the four sacred canonical texts (śruti) of Hinduism known as the Vedas.
The Iron Age as an archaeological period is roughly defined as that part of the prehistory of a culture or region during which ferrous metallurgy was the dominant technology of metalworking. The periodization is not strictly tied to the presence of ferrous metallurgy and is to some extent a matter of convention.
The characteristic of an Iron Age culture is mass production of tools and weapons made from steel, typically alloys with a carbon content between approximately 0.30% and 1.2% by weight.[ citation needed ] Only with the capability of the production of carbon steel does ferrous metallurgy result in tools or weapons that are equal or superior to bronze. To this day bronze and brass have not been replaced in many applications, with the spread of steel being based as much on economics as on metallurgical advancements. A range of techniques have been used to produce steel from smelted iron, including techniques such as case-hardening and forge welding that were used to make cutting edges stronger.
By convention, the Iron Age in the Ancient Near East is taken to last from c. 1200 BC (the Bronze Age collapse) to c. 550 BC (or 539 BC), taken as the beginning of historiography (Herodotus) or the end of the proto-historical period. In Central and Western Europe, the Iron Age is taken to last from c. 800 BC to c. 1 BC, in Northern Europe from c. 500 BC to 800 AD. In China, there is no recognizable prehistoric period characterized by ironworking, as Bronze Age China transitions almost directly into the Qin dynasty of imperial China; "Iron Age" in the context of China is sometimes used for the transitional period of c. 500 BC to 100 BC during which ferrous metallurgy was present even if not dominant.
The following gives an overview over the different conventions delimiting the "Iron Age" for various regions of the Old World, with indication of the subsequent historical epoch.
The earliest-known iron artifacts are nine small beads dated to 3200 BC, which were found in burials at Gerzeh, Lower Egypt. They have been identified as meteoric iron shaped by careful hammering. Meteoric iron, a characteristic iron–nickel alloy, was used by various ancient peoples thousands of years before the Iron Age. Such iron, being in its native metallic state, required no smelting of ores.
Smelted iron appears sporadically in the archeological record from the middle Bronze Age. Whilst terrestrial iron is naturally abundant, its high melting point of 1,538 °C (2,800 °F) placed it out of reach of common use until the end of the second millennium BC. Tin's low melting point of 231.9 °C (449.4 °F) and copper's relatively moderate melting point of 1,085 °C (1,985 °F) placed them within the capabilities of the Neolithic pottery kilns, which date back to 6000 BC and were able to produce temperatures greater than 900 °C (1,650 °F). In addition to specially designed furnaces, ancient iron production needed to develop complex procedures for the removal of impurities, for regulating the admixture of carbon in combination with hot-working to achieve a useful balance of hardness and strength (steel) and for adding alloys to prevent rust; see Ferrous metallurgy.
The earliest tentative evidence for iron-making is a small number of iron fragments with the appropriate amounts of carbon admixture found in the Proto-Hittite layers at Kaman-Kalehöyük and dated to 2200–2000 BC. Akanuma (2008) concludes that "The combination of carbon dating, archaeological context, and archaeometallurgical examination indicates that it is likely that the use of ironware made of steel had already begun in the third millennium BC in Central Anatolia". Souckova-Siegolová (2001) shows that iron implements were made in Central Anatolia in very limited quantities around 1800 BC and were in general use by elites, though not by commoners, during the New Hittite Empire (∼1400–1200 BC).
Similarly, recent archaeological remains of iron working in the Ganges Valley in India have been tentatively dated to 1800 BC. Tewari (2003) concludes that "knowledge of iron smelting and manufacturing of iron artifacts was well known in the Eastern Vindhyas and iron had been in use in the Central Ganga Plain, at least from the early second millennium BC". By the Middle Bronze Age increasing numbers of smelted iron objects (distinguishable from meteoric iron by the lack of nickel in the product) appeared in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and South Asia. African sites are turning up dates as early as 1200 BC.
Modern archaeological evidence identifies the start of large-scale iron production in around 1200 BC, marking the end of the Bronze Age. Between 1200 BC and 1000 BC diffusion in the understanding of iron metallurgy and use of iron objects was fast and far-flung. Anthony Snodgrass suggests that a shortage of tin, as a part of the Bronze Age Collapse and trade disruptions in the Mediterranean around 1300 BC, forced metalworkers to seek an alternative to bronze. As evidence, many bronze implements were recycled into weapons during that time. More widespread use of iron led to improved steel-making technology at lower cost. Thus, even when tin became available again, iron was cheaper, stronger and lighter, and forged iron implements superseded cast bronze tools permanently.
The Iron Age in the Ancient Near East is believed to have begun with the discovery of iron smelting and smithing techniques in Anatolia or the Caucasus and Balkans in the late 2nd millennium BC (c. 1300 BC). The earliest bloomery smelting of iron is found at Tell Hammeh, Jordan around 930 BC (14C dating).
The Early Iron Age artefacts found in Kultepe site, Azerbaijan show that iron smelting was known and used in this region before the 2nd millennium BC (as early as the 3rd millennium BC).
In the Mesopotamian states of Sumer, Akkad and Assyria, the initial use of iron reaches far back, to perhaps 3000 BC. BC. The widespread use of iron weapons which replaced bronze weapons rapidly disseminated throughout the Near East (North Africa, southwest Asia) by the beginning of the 1st millennium BC.One of the earliest smelted iron artifacts known was a dagger with an iron blade found in a Hattic tomb in Anatolia, dating from 2500
The development of iron smelting was once attributed to the Hittites of Anatolia during the Late Bronze Age. As part of the Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age, the Bronze Age collapse saw the slow, comparatively continuous spread of iron-working technology in the region. It was long held that the success of the Hittite Empire during the Late Bronze Age had been based on the advantages entailed by the "monopoly" on ironworking at the time.Accordingly, the invading Sea Peoples would have been responsible for spreading the knowledge through that region. The view of such a "Hittite monopoly" has come under scrutiny and no longer represents a scholarly consensus. While there are some iron objects from Bronze Age Anatolia, the number is comparable to iron objects found in Egypt and other places of the same time period; and only a small number of these objects are weapons.
The Iron Age in Egyptian archaeology essentially corresponds to the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt.
Iron metal is singularly scarce in collections of Egyptian antiquities. Bronze remained the primary material there until the conquest by Neo-Assyrian Empire in 671 BC. The explanation of this would seem to lie in the fact that the relics are in most cases the paraphernalia of tombs, the funeral vessels and vases, and iron being considered an impure metal by the ancient Egyptians it was never used in their manufacture of these or for any religious purposes. It was attributed to Seth, the spirit of evil who according to Egyptian tradition governed the central deserts of Africa. BC, Gaston Maspero found some pieces of iron. In the funeral text of Pepi I, the metal is mentioned. A sword bearing the name of pharaoh Merneptah as well as a battle axe with an iron blade and gold-decorated bronze shaft were both found in the excavation of Ugarit. A dagger with an iron blade found in Tutankhamun's tomb, 13th century BC, was recently examined and found to be of meteoric origin.In the Black Pyramid of Abusir, dating before 2000
In Europe, the Iron Age is the last stage of prehistoric Europe and the first of the protohistoric periods, which initially means descriptions of a particular area by Greek and Roman writers. For much of Europe, the period came to an abrupt local end after conquest by the Romans, though ironworking remained the dominant technology until recent times. Elsewhere it may last until the early centuries AD, and either Christianization or a new conquest in the Migration Period.
Iron working was introduced to Europe in the late 11th century BC,probably from the Caucasus, and slowly spread northwards and westwards over the succeeding 500 years. The Iron Age did not start when iron first appeared in Europe but it began to replace bronze in the preparation of tools and weapons. It did not happen at the same time all around Europe; local cultural developments played a role in the transition to the Iron Age. For example the Iron Age of Prehistoric Ireland begins around 500 BC, when the Greek Iron Age had already ended, and finishes around 400 AD. The widespread use of the technology of iron was implemented in Europe simultaneously with Asia. The prehistoric Iron Age in Central Europe divided into two periods based on historical events – Hallstatt culture (early Iron Age) and La Tene (late Iron Age) cultures. Material cultures of Hallstatt and La Tene consist of 4 phases (A, B, C, D phases).
|Phase A||Phase B||Phase C||Phase D|
|Hallstatt||(1200–700 BC) |
|(1200–700 BC) |
Pottery made of polychrome
|(700–600 BC) |
heavy iron and bronze swords
|(600–475 BC) |
dagger swords, brooches and ring ornaments, girdle mounts
|La Tène||(450–390 BC) |
s-shaped, spiral and
|(390–300 BC) |
Iron swords, heavy knives, lanceheads
|(300–100 BC) |
iron chains, iron swords, belts, heavy spearheads
|(100–15 BC) |
iron reaping-hooks, saws, scythes and hammers
The Iron Age in Europe is characterized by an elaboration of designs in weapons, implements, and utensils.These are no longer cast but hammered into shape, and decoration is elaborate and curvilinear rather than simple rectilinear; the forms and character of the ornamentation of the northern European weapons resembles in some respects Roman arms, while in other respects they are peculiar and evidently representative of northern art.
Citania de Briterios located in Guimaraes, Portugal is one of the examples of archaeological sites of the Iron Age. This settlement (fortified villages) covered an area of 3.8 hectares and served for Celtiberians as a stronghold against Roman invasions. İt dates more than 2500 years back. The site was researched by Francisco Martins Sarmento starting from 1874. A number of amphora s, coins, fragments of pottery, weapons, pieces of jewelry, as well as ruins of a bath and its Pedra Formosa (literally Beauty stones) revealed here.
The Iron Age in Central Asia began when iron objects appear among the Indo-European Saka in present-day Xinjiang between the 10th century BC and the 7th century BC, such as those found at the cemetery site of Chawuhukou.
The Pazyryk culture is an Iron Age archaeological culture (c. 6th to 3rd centuries BC) identified by excavated artifacts and mummified humans found in the Siberian permafrost in the Altay Mountains.
In China, Chinese bronze inscriptions are found around 1200 BC, preceding the development of iron metallurgy, which was known by the 9th century BC, Therefore in China prehistory had given way to history periodized by ruling dynasties by the start of iron use, so "Iron Age" is not typically used as to describe a period in Chinese history. Iron metallurgy reached the Yangzi Valley toward the end of the 6th century BC. The few objects were found at Changsha and Nanjing. The mortuary evidence suggests that the initial use of iron in Lingnan belongs to the mid-to-late Warring States period (from about 350 BC). Important non-precious husi style metal finds include Iron tools found at the tomb at Guwei-cun of the 4th century BC.
The techniques used in Lingnan are a combination of bivalve moulds of distinct southern tradition and the incorporation of piece mould technology from the Zhongyuan. The products of the combination of these two periods are bells, vessels, weapons and ornaments and the sophisticated cast.
An Iron Age culture of the Tibetan Plateau has tentatively been associated with the Zhang Zhung culture described in early Tibetan writings.
In Japan, iron items, such as tools, weapons, and decorative objects, are postulated to have entered Japan during the late Yayoi period (c. 300 BC–AD 300) or the succeeding Kofun period (c. AD 250–538), most likely through contacts with the Korean Peninsula and China.
Distinguishing characteristics of the Yayoi period include the appearance of new pottery styles and the start of intensive rice agriculture in paddy fields. Yayoi culture flourished in a geographic area from southern Kyūshū to northern Honshū. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period; The word kofun is Japanese for the type of burial mounds dating from that era.
Iron objects were introduced to the Korean peninsula through trade with chiefdoms and state-level societies in the Yellow Sea area in the 4th century BC, just at the end of the Warring States Period but before the Western Han Dynasty began.Yoon proposes that iron was first introduced to chiefdoms located along North Korean river valleys that flow into the Yellow Sea such as the Cheongcheon and Taedong Rivers. Iron production quickly followed in the 2nd century BC, and iron implements came to be used by farmers by the 1st century in southern Korea. The earliest known cast-iron axes in southern Korea are found in the Geum River basin. The time that iron production begins is the same time that complex chiefdoms of Proto-historic Korea emerged. The complex chiefdoms were the precursors of early states such as Silla, Baekje, Goguryeo, and Gaya Iron ingots were an important mortuary item and indicated the wealth or prestige of the deceased in this period.
Iron was being used in Mundigak to manufacture some items in the 3rd millennium BC such as a small copper/bronze bell with an iron clapper, a copper/bronze rod with two iron decorative buttons,. and a copper/bronze mirror handle with a decorative iron button. BC. As the evidence from the sites Raja Nala ka tila, Malhar suggest the use of Iron in c.1800/1700 BCE. The extensive use of iron smelting is from Malhar and its surrounding area. This site is assumed as the center for smelted bloomer iron to this area due to its location in Karamnasa River and Ganga River. This site shows agricultural technology as iron implements sickles, nails, clamps, spearheads etc. by at least c.1500 BC Archaeological excavations in Hyderabad show an Iron Age burial site.Artefacts including small knives and blades have been discovered in the Indian state of Telengana which have been dated between 2,400 BC and 1800 BC The history of metallurgy in the Indian subcontinent began prior to the 3rd millenium BCE. Archaeological sites in India, such as Malhar, Dadupur, Raja Nala Ka Tila, Lahuradewa, Kosambi and Jhusi, Allahabad in present-day Uttar Pradesh show iron implements in the period 1800–1200
The beginning of the 1st millennium BC saw extensive developments in iron metallurgy in India. Technological advancement and mastery of iron metallurgy was achieved during this period of peaceful settlements. One iron working centre in east India has been dated to the first millennium BC. BC, certainly by AD 200, high quality steel was produced in southern India, by what would later be called the crucible technique. In this system, high-purity wrought iron, charcoal, and glass were mixed in a crucible and heated until the iron melted and absorbed the carbon.In Southern India (present day Mysore) iron appeared as early as 12th to 11th centuries BC; these developments were too early for any significant close contact with the northwest of the country. The Indian Upanishads mention metallurgy. and the Indian Mauryan period saw advances in metallurgy. As early as 300
The protohistoric Early Iron Age in Sri Lanka lasted from 1000 BC to 600 BC. however evidence of Iron usage was found in Excavation of a Protohistoric Canoe burial Site in Haldummulla and has been dated to 2400 BC. Radiocarbon evidence has been collected from Anuradhapura and Aligala shelter in Sigiriya. The Anuradhapura settlement is recorded to extend 10 ha (25 acres) by 800 BC and grew to 50 ha (120 acres) by 700–600 BC to become a town. The skeletal remains of an Early Iron Age chief were excavated in Anaikoddai, Jaffna. The name 'Ko Veta' is engraved in Brahmi script on a seal buried with the skeleton and is assigned by the excavators to the 3rd century BC. Ko, meaning "King" in Tamil, is comparable to such names as Ko Atan and Ko Putivira occurring in contemporary Brahmi inscriptions in south India. It is also speculated that Early Iron Age sites may exist in Kandarodai, Matota, Pilapitiya and Tissamaharama.
Archaeology in Thailand at sites Ban Don Ta Phet and Khao Sam Kaeo yielding metallic, stone, and glass artifacts stylistically associated with the Indian subcontinent suggest Indianization of Southeast Asia beginning in the 4th to 2nd centuries BC during the late Iron Age.
In Philippines and Vietnam, the Sa Huynh culture showed evidence of an extensive trade network. Sa Huynh beads were made from glass, carnelian, agate, olivine, zircon, gold and garnet; most of these materials were not local to the region, and were most likely imported. Han-Dynasty-style bronze mirrors were also found in Sa Huynh sites. Conversely, Sa Huynh produced ear ornaments have been found in archaeological sites in Central Thailand, Taiwan (Orchid Island). 211–217:
In Sub-Saharan Africa, where there was no continent-wide universal Bronze Age, the use of iron succeeded immediately the use of stone.Metallurgy was characterized by the absence of a Bronze Age, and the transition from "stone to steel" in tool substances. Early evidence for iron technology in Sub-Saharan Africa can be found at sites such as KM2 and KM3 in northwest Tanzania. Nubia was one of the relatively few places in Africa to have a sustained Bronze Age along with Egypt and much of the rest of North Africa.
Very early copper and bronze working sites in Niger may date to as early as 1500 BC. There is also evidence of iron metallurgy in Termit, Niger from around this period. Nubia was a major manufacturer and exporter of iron after the expulsion of the Nubian dynasty from Egypt by the Assyrians in the 7th century BC.
Iron and copper working in Sub-Saharan Africa spread in conjunction with the Bantu expansion, from the Cameroon region to the African Great Lakes in the 3rd century BC, reaching the Cape around AD 400. However, iron working may have been practiced in Central Africa as early as the 3rd millennium BC. Instances of carbon steel based on complex preheating principles were found to be in production around the 1st century AD in northwest Tanzania.
Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability.
The Bronze Age is a historical period characterized by the use of bronze, and in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the three-age Stone-Bronze-Iron system, as proposed in modern times by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen, for classifying and studying ancient societies.
The Chalcolithic, a name derived from the Greek: χαλκός khalkós, "copper" and from λίθος líthos, "stone" or Copper Age, also known as the Eneolithic or Aeneolithic is an archaeological period which researchers usually regard as part of the broader Neolithic. In the context of Eastern Europe, archaeologists often prefer the term "Eneolithic" to "Chalcolithic" or other alternatives.
Smelting is a process of applying heat to ore in order to extract a base metal. It is a form of extractive metallurgy. It is used to extract many metals from their ores, including silver, iron, copper, and other base metals. Smelting uses heat and a chemical reducing agent to decompose the ore, driving off other elements as gases or slag and leaving the metal base behind. The reducing agent is commonly a source of carbon, such as coke—or, in earlier times, charcoal.
The 2nd millennium BC spanned the years 2000 through 1001 BC. In the Ancient Near East, it marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age. The Ancient Near Eastern cultures are well within the historical era: The first half of the millennium is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. At the center of the millennium, a new order emerges with Minoan Greek dominance of the Aegean and the rise of the Hittite Empire. The end of the millennium sees the Bronze Age collapse and the transition to the Iron Age.
A bloomery is a type of furnace once used widely for smelting iron from its oxides. The bloomery was the earliest form of smelter capable of smelting iron. A bloomery's product is a porous mass of iron and slag called a bloom. This mix of slag and iron in the bloom is termed sponge iron, which is usually consolidated and further forged into wrought iron. The bloomery has now largely been superseded by the blast furnace, which produces pig iron.
Prehistoric Europe is the designation for the period of human presence in Europe before the start of recorded history, beginning in the Lower Paleolithic. As history progresses, considerable regional irregularities of cultural development emerge and increase. The region of the eastern Mediterranean is, due to its geographic proximity, greatly influenced and inspired by the classical Middle Eastern civilizations, and adopts and develops the earliest systems of communal organization and writing. The Histories of Herodotus is the oldest known European text that seeks to systematically record traditions, public affairs and notable events. In contrast, the European regions furthest away from the ancient centers of civilization tended to be the slowest, regarding acculturation. In Northern and Eastern Europe in particular, writing and systematic recording was only introduced in the context of Christianization, after 1000 CE.
The history of metallurgy in the Indian subcontinent began prior to the 3rd millennium BCE and continued well into the British Raj. Metals and related concepts were mentioned in various early Vedic age texts. The Rigveda already uses the Sanskrit term Ayas (metal). The Indian cultural and commercial contacts with the Near East and the Greco-Roman world enabled an exchange of metallurgic sciences. With the advent of the Mughals, India's Mughal Empire further improved the established tradition of metallurgy and metal working in India.
Bronze Age swords appeared from around the 17th century BC, in the Black Sea region and the Aegean, as a further development of the dagger. They were replaced by iron swords during the early part of the 1st millennium BC.
The archaeology of Northern Europe studies the prehistory of Scandinavia and the adjacent North European Plain, roughly corresponding to the territories of modern Sweden, Norway, Denmark, northern Germany, Poland and the Netherlands.
This article concerns the history of
Ferrous metallurgy is the metallurgy of iron and its alloys. It began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 4th millennium BC in Egypt, were made from meteoritic iron-nickel. It is not known when or where the smelting of iron from ores began, but by the end of the 2nd millennium BC iron was being produced from iron ores from Sub-Saharan Africa to China. The use of wrought iron was known by the 1st millennium BC, and its spread marked the Iron Age. During the medieval period, means were found in Europe of producing wrought iron from cast iron using finery forges. For all these processes, charcoal was required as fuel.
The prehistory of Georgia is the period between the first human habitation of the territory of modern-day nation of Georgia and the time when Assyrian and Urartian, and more firmly, the Classical accounts, brought the proto-Georgian tribes into the scope of recorded history.
The prehistory of Italy began in the Paleolithic period, when the Homo species colonized the Italian territory for the first time, and ended in the Iron Age, when the first written records appeared in the Insular Italy.
The topic of early iron metallurgy in sub-Saharan Africa encompasses both studies of the technology and archaeology of indigenous iron production, and also an understanding of the role that iron production played in African societies before European colonization.
The Copper Age, also called the Eneolithic or the Chalcolithic Age, has been traditionally understood as a transitional period between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, in which a gradual introduction of the metal took place, while stone was still the main resource utilized. Recent archaeology has found that the metal was not introduced so gradually and that this entailed significant social changes, such as developments in the type of habitation, long-distance trade, and copper metallurgy.
Metals and metal working had been known to the people of modern Italy since the Bronze Age. By 53 BCE, Rome had already expanded to control an immense expanse of the Mediterranean. This included nine provinces radiating from Italy to its islands, Spain, Macedonia, Africa, Asia Minor, Syria and Greece, and by the end of the Emperor Trajan's reign, the Roman Empire had grown further to encompass parts of Britain, Egypt, all of modern Germany west of the Rhine, Dacia, Noricum, Judea, Armenia, Illyria and Thrace. As the empire grew, so did its need for metals.
Copper metallurgy in Africa encompasses the study of copper production across the continent and an understanding of how it influenced aspects of African archaeology.
Non-ferrous extractive metallurgy is one of the two branches of extractive metallurgy which pertains to the processes of reducing valuable, non-iron metals from ores or raw material. Metals like zinc, copper, lead, aluminium as well as rare and noble metals are of particular interest in this field, while the more common metal, iron, is considered a major impurity. Like ferrous extraction, non-ferrous extraction primarily focuses on the economic optimization of extraction processes in separating qualitatively and quantitatively marketable metals from its impurities (gangue).
...the blade’s composition of iron, nickel and cobalt was an approximate match for a meteorite that landed in northern Egypt. The result “strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin"...
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