, the Iron
Age was the stage in the development of any people in which tools and weapons whose main ingredient was iron were prominent. The adoption of this material often coincided with other changes in society, including differing agricultural practices, religious beliefs and artistic styles.
In history, the Iron Age
is the last principal period in the three-age system for classifying prehistoric societies, preceded by the Bronze
Age. Its date and context vary depending on the country or geographical region.
No firm ending date is set for the Iron Age in any particular society; there is simply a point where archaeology becomes less important than surviving history and traditions. Iron alloys remain popular as the steels in most metallic objects.
Classically, the Iron Age is taken to begin in the 12th century BCE in the ancient Near East
, ancient Iran, ancient India
, and ancient Greece
. In other regions of Europe
, it started much later, while in central Anatolia
it started earlier: The Hittites
used the first iron in the 14th century BCE. The Iron Age began in the 8th century BCE in central Europe and the 6th century BCE in northern Europe.
The Iron Age is usually said to end in the Mediterranean
with the onset of historical tradition during Hellenism and the Roman Empire
, and in Northern Europe with the early Middle Ages.