Bronze Age

Definition

by Wikipedia
published on 28 April 2011
Bronze Age Helmet (Carlos de Paz)

The Bronze Age is the second part of the three-age system (Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age) for classifying and studying prehistoric societies, particularly the ancient societies of the Mediterranean and Near East. More broadly, the Bronze Age of any culture is the period during which the most advanced metalworking (at least in systematic and widespread use) in that culture uses bronze. This could either be based on the local smelting of copper and tin from ores, or trading for bronze from production areas elsewhere. Copper/tin ores are rare, as reflected in the fact that there were no tin bronzes in western Asia before 3000 BC. Many, though not all, Bronze Age cultures flourished in prehistory. Some cultures developed extensive written records during their Bronze Ages.

In some areas of the world the Bronze Age followed the Neolithic age. However, in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Neolithic age was directly followed by the Iron Age. In some parts of the world, a Copper Age followed the Neolithic Age and preceded the Bronze Age.

The place and time of the invention of bronze are controversial. It is possible that bronzing was invented independently in the Maikop culture in the North Caucasus as far back as the mid 4th millennium BC, which would make them the makers of the oldest known bronze; but others date the same Maikop artifacts to the mid 3rd millennium BCE. However, the Maikop culture only had arsenic bronze, which is a naturally occurring alloy. Tin bronze, which developed later, requires more sophisticated production techniques; tin has to be mined (mainly as the tin ore cassiterite) and smelted separately, then added to molten copper to make the bronze alloy.

In Mesopotamia, the Bronze Age begins at about 2900 BCE in the late Uruk period, spanning the Early Dynastic period of Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, the Old Babylonian and Old Assyrian periods and the period of Kassite hegemony. In Ancient Egypt, the Bronze Age begins in the Protodynastic period, c. 3150 BCE.

The Aegean Bronze Age begins around 3000 BC, when civilizations first established a far-ranging trade network. This network imported tin and charcoal to Cyprus, where copper was mined and alloyed with the tin to produce bronze. Bronze objects were then exported far and wide, and supported the trade. Knowledge of navigation was well developed at this time, and reached a peak of skill not exceeded (except perhaps by Polynesian sailors) until 1730 CE when the invention of the chronometer enabled the precise determination of longitude. The Minoan civilization based in Knossos appears to have coordinated and defended its Bronze Age trade.

In Central Europe, the early Bronze Age Unetice culture (1800–1600 BCE) includes numerous smaller groups like the Straubing, Adlerberg and Hatvan cultures. Some very rich burials, such as the one located at Leubingen with grave gifts crafted from gold, point to an increase of social stratification already present in the Unetice culture. All in all, cemeteries of this period are rare and of small size. The Unetice culture is followed by the middle Bronze Age (1600–1200 BCE) Tumulus culture, which is characterised by inhumation burials in tumuli (barrows).

The late Bronze Age Urnfield culture, (1300–700 BCE) is characterized by cremation burials. It includes the Lusatian culture in eastern Germany and Poland (1300–500 BCE) that continues into the Iron Age. The Central European Bronze Age is followed by the Iron Age Hallstatt culture (700–450 BCE).



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Timeline

Visual Timeline
  • 6200 BCE
    First copper smelting in Anatolia.
  • 3800 BCE
    Earliest bronze working.
  • 3650 BCE
    Invention of the wheel.
  • 3500 BCE
    Farming has spread across Europe.
  • 3400 BCE
    Priests become the rulers of Mesopotamian cities.
  • c. 3000 BCE
    First Bronze Age settlement in Jerusalem.
  • c. 3000 BCE
    First habitation of Epidaurus site.
  • 3000 BCE
    First evidence of habitation at Thebes.
  • 3000 BCE - 2550 BCE
    Troy I - First stone-walled village settlement
  • 3000 BCE - 2200 BCE
    The first archaeological evidence of organised communities in the Cyclades.
  • 3000 BCE - 2000 BCE
    Distinctive minimalistic standing marble figurines are produced in the Cyclades.
  • 2800 BCE - 1900 BCE
    Bell beaker culture in western Europe.
  • 2550 BCE - 2300 BCE
    Troy II - origin of gold 'treasure' found by Schliemann
  • 2500 BCE - 1100 BCE
    Bronze Age in Cyprus.
  • 2300 BCE
    Bronze is used in the Aegean.
  • 2300 BCE - 1750 BCE
    Troy III - Troy V
  • 2200 BCE - 1700 BCE
    Evidence of town planning and more sophisticated architecture in the Cylades.
  • 2100 BCE
    First ziggurats in Ur, Eridu, Uruk, and Nippur.
  • 2000 BCE
    Early Greeks settle the Peloponnese.
  • 2000 BCE
    Domesticated horses introduced in Mesopotamia.
  • c. 2000 BCE
    Bronze Age begins in Northern Europe.
  • c. 2000 BCE
    Pottery wheel introduced to Minoan civilization on Crete.
  • c. 2000 BCE
    Akrotiri becomes an important Aegean trading centre.
  • 2000 BCE
    First shaft graves at Thebes.
  • 2000 BCE - 1650 BCE
    Akrotiri on Thera reaches its peak of prosperity and becomes a flourishing Mediterranean trading centre.
  • 2000 BCE - 1500 BCE
    Wessex culture introduces bronze working to Britain.
  • c. 2000 BCE - c. 1400 BCE
    Early Bronze Age in Scotland.
  • 1984 BCE
    Amorite dynasty established in Babylon.
  • 1850 BCE - 1550 BCE
    Phaistos disk manufactured on Crete .
  • 1800 BCE
    Bronze working introduced to Egypt.
  • 1795 BCE - 1750 BCE
    Reign of Hammurabi, king of Babylon.
  • 1787 BCE
  • c. 1772 BCE
    The Code of Hammurabi: One of the earliest codes of law in the world.
  • 1761 BCE
    Hammurabi of Babylon destroys the city of Mari.
  • 1750 BCE - 1300 BCE
    Troy VI - probable Troy of Homer's Iliad. City at its zenith.
  • 1700 BCE - 1400 BCE
    The culture in the Cyclades is increasingly influenced by Minoan Crete.
  • 1680 BCE
    Hurrians occupy Assyria.
  • 1650 BCE - 1550 BCE
    Eruption of Thera and consequent tidal waves, destruction of Akrotiri and other Aegean centres.
  • c. 1600 BCE
    Rhodes has significant contact with Minoan Crete.
  • 1595 BCE
    King Mursilis of the Hittites sacks Babylon. Begin of Babylonian "dark ages."
  • 1550 BCE
    Kingdom of Mittani is founded.
  • 1550 BCE - 1069 BCE
    The New Kingdom of Egypt.
  • 1504 BCE - 1492 BCE
    Egyptian empire reaches greatest extent under Tuthmosis I.
  • 1500 BCE
    Pastoral farming spreads across Eurasian steppes.
  • 1500 BCE
    Egyptian empire extends to the Euphrates.
  • 1500 BCE
    The site of Delphi is first settled.
  • 1500 BCE - 1300 BCE
    Mycenaean Thebes at its peak of prosperity and influence.
  • 1472 BCE
    Mittani annexes Assyria.
  • c. 1450 BCE
    Mycenaean monumental architecture first appears at Epidaurus.
  • c. 1450 BCE - 1200 BCE
    The city of Ugarit flourishes.
  • 1400 BCE
    Assyria regains its independence.
  • c. 1400 BCE
    Rhodes has significant contact with the Mycenaean civilization.
  • 1400 BCE - 1100 BCE
    Culture in the Cyclades is increasingly influenced by the Mycenaean civilization of mainland Greece.
  • c. 1400 BCE - c. 900 BCE
    Middle Bronze Age in Scotland.
  • c. 1321 BCE
    Western Mittani is conquered by the Hittites.
  • 1300 BCE - 950 BCE
    Troy VIIa - VIIb Notable decline in architectural and artisitic standards
  • 1250 BCE - 1200 BCE
    Mycenaean chamber tombs constructed at Thebes.
  • c. 1200 BCE - c. 1100 BCE
    Mycenaean Epidaurus at its peak of prosperity.
  • 1100 BCE
    Hillforts in western Europe.
  • c. 1100 BCE
    Evidence of settlement destruction and abandonment across the Cyclades.
  • c. 900 BCE - c. 400 BCE
    Late Bronze Age in Scotland.

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