The Bronze Age, the time in the development of any human culture,
before the introduction of iron, when most tools and weapons were
made of bronze.
Chronologically, the term is of strictly local value, for bronze came into
use, and was again replaced by iron, at different times in different parts
of the world. It generally succeeds a culture's Copper Age.
Archaeological discoveries since 1960 have upset traditional theories
concerning the origins of copper and bronze technologies. It had been
thought that the use of bronze had originated in the Middle East, but
discoveries near Ban Chiang, Thailand, indicate that bronze technology
was known there as early as 4500 BC.
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Learn about this important development in human culture.
This preceded the working of bronze in the Middle East by several
hundred years. Bronze objects have been found in Asia Minor that date
from before 3000 BC. At first this alloy was used sparingly, mostly for
decorative purposes; the tin needed to make it was not available in the
Regular imports of tin from Cornwall in Britain during the 2d
millennium BC, however, made possible wider use of bronze in the
Middle East, and it was eventually utilized for tools and weapons.
Raw copper was being pounded into tools and ornaments as early as
10,000 BC. Later discoveries at Rudna Glava in Yugoslavia have
shown that copper was in use there in 4000 BC, although bronze was
not made at that time.
By 3000 BC bronze began to be used in Greece. In China the Bronze
Age did not begin until 1800 BC. The pre-Columbian civilizations of the
Americas had no bronze technology until about ad 1000.
The Bronze Age in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean has
been divided into three phases early, middle, and late.
The early phase is characterized by increased use of the metal, from
the sporadic to the common. It was the time of the Sumerian civilization
and the rise of Akkad to prominence in Mesopotamia; it also generated
the spectacular treasures of Troy.
Babylon reached its height of glory during the middle Bronze Age.
Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece were major late-Bronze-Age
civilizations. The Bronze Age there ended about 1200 BC, after which
iron technology became common.
There exist in Europe the evidences of three
different ages of human development:
1. The Stone Age, which dates back to a vast antiquity. It is
subdivided into two periods: an age of rough stone implements;
and a later age, when these implements were ground smooth
and made in improved forms.
2. The Bronze Age, when the great mass of implements were
manufactured of a compound metal, consisting of about nine
parts of copper and one part of tin.
3. An age when iron superseded bronze for weapons and
cutting tools, although bronze still remained in use for
ornaments. This age continued down to what we call the
Historical Period, and embraces our present civilization; its more
ancient remains are mixed with coins of the Gauls, Greeks, and
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