What is the Metal Age? How is it Classified?

The 3rd, 2nd, and the 1st, millennia BC, a period between the Stone Age and the Iron Age, has traditionally been defined as the Metal Age. This was a period when societies in Europe began to produce metals consciously for making weapons and other implements.

The metal age can be further divided into the Copper Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.

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When did the Copper Age begin?

The Copper Age followed the Stone Age at least 7,000 years ago, when early man discovered copper. Gradually, copper weapons and tools replaced stone implements. The Copper Age marks the first part of the Bronze Age.

After 6,000 BC, smelting ore to produce pure copper was discovered in Turkey. From 5000 BC, copper metallurgy, with cast tools and weapons, was a factor leading to urbanization in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Copper was well known to the people of the ancient Indus Valley civilization. They exported copper to other lands, along with peacocks, ivory and cotton textiles, in return for silver and other commodities!

The Copper Age began in India around 3,100 BC, in Africa around 600 BC, in South America around 12,00 BC, and China by 3,000 BC.

What was the Bronze Age?

It is the third phase in the history of the development of mankind, followed by the earlier Paleolithic, and Neolithic periods. In the metal age, the Bronze Age followed the Copper Age.

The Bronze Age was a period when metals were first used regularly in the manufacture of tools and weapons. Pure copper and bronze were the first metals used. The new weapons were harder, sharper and more durable than stone weapons.

With the discovery of iron, weapons were more often made of iron, while bronze was used more for decorative purposes.

People learnt how to smelt copper and tin from naturally occurring outcropping of ore, and then alloy these metals and cast bronze. We must remember, however, that bronze came into use at different times in different parts of the world, and was eventually replaced by iron. The earliest known tin bronzes are from present day Iran and Iraq, and go as far back as to the late 4th millennium BC.

Archaeological finds near Ban Chiang in Thailand reveal that bronze technology was known there as early as 4,500 BC. Bronzes were made in Anatolia by the early 3rd millennium BC. The civilizations of the Americas of the Americas prior to Christopher Columbus did not know bronze technology until about 100 AD.

When and how did the Bronze Age end?

The civilizations that flourished during the Bronze Age ended in the 12th century BC. With the coming of the Dorians from the North of Greece.

The Dorians were Greek speaking people who scattered the Mycenaeans, and divided agriculture, trade and industry amongst the hundreds of villages.

The result was that the economy collapsed, culture declined, the trade networks became weak and a glorious chapter in history, the Bronze Age, cam to an end.

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