Iron Age

The Iron Age was the third and last cultural and technical period after the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. The complete Iron Age, in which iron largely supplanted bronze in tools and weaponry, began at different times and places in different parts of the world, ranging from the early 2nd millennium BCE in the Middle East and southern Europe to the late 1st millennium BCE in China. Although iron was used in small quantities as a valuable metal in the Middle East as early as 3000 BCE, there is little evidence to suggest that its greater properties over bronze were appreciated at the time.

Between 1200 and 1000, however, the export of knowledge of iron metallurgy and of iron things was quick and broad. With the large-scale manufacture of iron tools came new forms of more permanent habitation. On the other hand, exploitation of iron for weaponry put armaments in the hands of the masses for the first time and started off a sequence of large-scale movements of peoples that would not cease for 2,000 years and that transformed the landscape of Europe and Asia.

Facts about Iron Age

In archaeology, the Iron Age is the time in the evolution of any people where the use of iron items as tools and weapons is dominant. The adoption of this material corresponded with other changes in various ancient cultures sometimes including diverse agricultural methods, religious beliefs and creative styles, but this was not always the case.

The Iron Age is the last significant period in the three-age system for defining pre-historic cultures, followed by the Bronze Age. Its timing and context differs depending on the country or geographical location. Classically, the Iron Age is taken to begin around the 12th century BC in the ancient Near East, ancient Greece (with the Greek Dark Ages), and ancient India (with the post- Rigvedic Vedic civilisation) .

Around other areas of Europe, the Iron Age began in the 8th century BC in Central Europe and the 6th century BC in Northern Europe. In the Mediterranean, the Iron Age is typically dated to the beginning of historical tradition during Hellenism and the Roman Empire, the beginning of Buddhism and Jainism in India, the beginning of Confucianism in China, or the beginning of the Middle Ages in Northern Europe.

Characteristics/Features of Iron Age

The Iron Age largely corresponds to the time during which iron manufacture was the most advanced kind of metallurgy. Iron’s hardness, high melting point and the accessibility of iron ore sources made iron more desired and “cheaper” than bronze and contributed considerably to its acceptance as the most regularly used metal. The emergence of iron utilisation in many locations is listed here, largely in chronological sequence. Because iron production was introduced immediately to the Americas and Australasia by European colonisation, there was never an iron age in any area.

By the Middle Bronze Age, increasing quantities of smelted iron artefacts (distinguishable from meteoric iron by the lack of nickel in the output) occur throughout the Levant, the Mediterranean, in Anatolia, Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indian subcontinent. In certain regions, their use appears to be ceremonial, and iron was a valuable metal, more expensive than gold. Some reports say that iron was being formed in some areas then as a by-product of copper refining, as sponge iron, and was not replicable by the metallurgy of the period.

But, in Anatolia, iron is routinely produced from a vast supply of meteoritic iron, not distant from Bronze Age sources of other metals.

The earliest organised manufacturing and usage of iron utensils. By 1200 BC, iron was widely utilised in the Middle East but did not overtake the dominating usage of bronze for some time. In the Levant, tin became rare circa 1800 BC for reasons that have yet to be determined by archaeologists, causing a crisis in bronze manufacture.

Copper itself seems to be in scarce supply. From from 1700 BC until roughly 1800 BC, “pirate” parties in the Mediterranean began attacking walled cities to loot bronze for use in making weapons. Anatolia had long been a supplier of bronze, and its usage of iron (from 2000 BC forward) had progressed, by at least 1500BC into the creation of weaponry superior than bronze. Production of iron in the Sub-Saharan region also began about this period, but appears to have been an original development. Places that held iron established a significance in the last millennium BC that would persist into the future.

The emission of iron, along with a military technique geared to match the usage of metals, radiated from Assyria. It is possibly an Assyrian-manufactured macehead that was unearthed in 1902 in Troy at a level dated to approximately 1200 BC. Assyria in reality may have considered Troy an offshoot or suburb of itself. At any rate, iron commerce between the two sites was well established by that time, with the Assyrians zealously guarding their trade secrets of manufacture.

Iron Age in different areas of Word

Ancient Near East

The Iron Age in the Ancient Near East is considered to have begun with the development of iron smelting and smithing methods in Anatolia or the Caucasus in the late 2nd millennium BC (around 1300 BC) (circa 1300 BC). From here technology expanded fast throughout the Near East as iron weaponry supplanted bronze weapons by the early 1st century BC. The usage of iron weaponry by the Hittites is thought to have been a crucial role in the quick growth of the Hittite Empire. Because the location in which iron technology initially emerged was near the Aegean, the technology diffused equally early into both Asia and Europe, assisted by Hittite expansion. Iron technology has been widely attributed to the Sea Peoples and the related Philistines in Asia, and to the Dorians in Greece. It ought also be mentioned that the Assyrian Empire had trading relations with the location in where iron technology was originally established at the time when it was developing.


Iron working was brought to Europe approximately 1000 BC, presumably from Asia Minor and progressively moved northwards and westwards over the subsequent 500 years.

Eastern Europe

The early 1st century BC represents the Iron Age in Eastern Europe. In the Pontic steppe and the Caucasus area, the Iron Age begins with the Koban and the Chernogorovka and Novocerkassk civilizations from about. 900 BC. By 800 BC, it was spreading to Hallstatt C via the purported ” Thraco-Cimmerian” migrations. From the Hallstatt civilisation, the Iron Age advances west with the Celtic invasion from the 6th century BC. In Poland, the Iron Age reaches the late Lusatian civilization in around the 6th century, followed in certain regions by the Pomeranian culture.

The ethnic ascriptions of numerous Iron age societies has been severely argued, since the roots of Germanii and Slavs were sought in this area.

Central Europe

Between Central Europe, the Iron Age is often separated around the early Iron Age Hallstatt civilization and the late Iron Age culture (starting in 450 BC) (beginning in 450 BC). The Iron age ends with the Roman Conquest.


In Italy, the Iron Age was presumably inaugurated by the Villanovan culture although this culture is otherwise considered a Bronze Age civilisation, whereas the succeeding Etruscan civilization is classified as part of Iron Age proper. The Etruscan Iron Age was subsequently terminated with the establishment and conquest of the Roman Republic, which seized the final Etruscan city of Velzna in 265 BC.

British Isles

In the British Isles, the Iron Age lasted from around the 5th century BC to the Roman invasion and until the 5th century A.D. in non-Romanised regions. Defensive constructions originating from this time are typically magnificent, for example the brochs of northern Scotland and the hill forts that studded the remainder of the islands.

Northern Europe

The Iron Age is separated into the Pre-Roman Iron Age and the Roman Iron Age. This is followed by the migration phase. Northern Germany and Denmark was dominated by the Jastorf civilization, whilst the culture of the southern part of the Scandinavia was dominated by the very similar Gregan Iron Age.

Scandinavia (including Finland) and Northern Balticum demonstrates a small-scaled iron production fairly early, but a further date is now difficult. The time varies from 3000 BC-1000 A.D. This information is connected to the non-Germanic section of Scandinavia. Metalworking and Asbestos-Ceramic pottery are partly synonymous in Scandinavia due to the latter’s propensity to resist and maintain heat. Red soil (iron sand) is a likely candidate for the iron ore that was utilised because of the high phosphorus concentration that can be detected in the resulting slag. Together with asbestos ware axes belonging to the Ananjino Culture are sometimes unearthed. The Asbestos-Ceramic remains a mystery, because there are other adiabatic vessels with unknown function.

South and East Asia

Indian Subcontinent

Archaeological sites in India, such as Malhar, Dadupur, Raja Nala Ka Tila and Lahuradewa in the state of Uttar Pradesh display iron tools in the era between 1800 BC – 1200 BC. Sahi (1979: 366) stated that by the early 13th century BC, iron smelting was clearly done on a greater scale in India, suggesting that the date the technology’s genesis may possibly be put as early as the 16th century BC.

The Black and Red Ware civilization was another early Iron Age archaeological civilisation of the northern Indian Subcontinent. It is dated to about the 12th – 9th century BC, and connected with the post- Rigvedic Vedic culture. It covered an area from the eastern Vindhya mountains and West Bengal to the upper Gangetic plain in Uttar Pradesh.

Perhaps as early as 300 BC, and probably by 200 A.D., good grade steel was being made in southern India via the crucible process. To make the iron melt and absorb the carbon, high-purity wrought iron, charcoal, and glass were combined in crucibles and heated. The resulting high-carbon steel, wootz in English, was shipped throughout much of Asia and Europe.

Eastern Asia

Cast-iron objects are unearthed in China that date as early as the Zhou dynasty of the 6th century BC. An Iron Age society of the Tibetan Plateau has tentatively been related with the Zhang Zhung culture mentioned in early Tibetan texts. In 1972, in the city of Gaocheng in Shijiazhuang (now Hebei province), an iron-bladed bronze tomahawk dating back to the 14th century BC was unearthed. After a scientific study, the iron was proven to be formed from aerosiderite.

Iron artefacts were brought to Korean Peninsula the through commerce with chiefdoms and state-level civilizations in the Yellow Sea area in the fourth century B.C., shortly after the conclusion of the Warring States Period but before the Warring States began (Kim 2002; Taylor 1989). (Kim 2002; Taylor 1989). Yoon posits that iron was originally brought to chiefdoms located along North Korean river basins that run into the Yellow Sea such as the Cheongcheon and Taedong Rivers (Taylor 1989; Yoon 1989). Iron manufacturing swiftly followed in the 2nd century B.C., and iron implements started to be utilised by farmers by the 1st century A.D. in southern Korea (Kim 2002). The range of the first known cast-iron axes in southern Korea is located in the Geum River basin. At around the same period sophisticated chiefdoms of Proto-historic Korea formed that were the ancestors of early governments like as Silla, Baekje, Goguryeo, and Gaya (Barnes 2001; Taylor 1989). Iron ingots that reflected the riches or dignity of the departed were an important funerary item in this period.

Sub-Saharan Africa

The Nok culture became the first iron smelting tribe in West Africa before 1000 BC. Iron and copper production then proceeded to extend southward over the continent, reaching the Cape approximately 200 A.D. The widespread use of iron changed the Bantu farming groups that embraced it, pushing out the stone tool using hunter-gatherer civilizations they encountered as they advanced to farm broader regions of savannah. The technologically superior Bantu swept over southern Africa and grew affluent and strong, manufacturing iron for tools and weapons in vast, industrial numbers. Sub-Saharan Africa was still in the iron age with the entrance of European explorers in the 19th century.

End of Iron Age

The demolition of the Temple and the end of the Davidic Dynasty are often seen as marking the end of the Iron Age, which is generally agreed upon to have ended in 587/586 BCE. Since no ruins from this time were discovered in Samaria, the Galilee, the Negev, Philistia, or Transjordan, and since no crisis occurred among the material culture, this date is of negligible relevance in most regions of the Land of Israel. Only Jerusalem and a small portion of the Kingdom of Judah were impacted by the events of 587/586 BCE; the Edomites had already taken control of the region to the south. The tragedy of Israel’s loss of independence and the Temple’s destruction must have influenced previous generations of Israel’s academics to choose this date as the end of the Iron Age. It is consequently more historical-theological than archaeological in nature to assign this date.

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