Saturday, January 12, 2008

The term Bronze Age refers to a period in human cultural development when the most advanced metalworking (at least in systematic and widespread use) consists of techniques for smelting copper and tin from naturally occurring outcroppings of ore, and then alloying those metals in order to cast bronze. The Bronze Age forms part of the three-age system for prehistoric societies. In this system, it follows the Neolithic in some areas of the world. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Neolithic is directly followed by the Iron Age.

The Bronze Age in the Near East is divided into three main periods (the dates are very approximate):
Each main period can be divided into shorter subcategories such as EB I, EB II, MB IIa etc.
Metallurgy developed first in Anatolia, modern Turkey. The mountains in the Anatolian highland possessed rich deposits of copper and tin. Copper was also mined in Cyprus, the Negev desert, Iran and around the Persian Gulf. Copper was usually mixed with arsenic, yet the growing demand for tin resulted in the establishment of distant trade routes in and out of Anatolia. The precious copper was also imported by sea routes to the great kingdoms of Mesopotamia.
The Early Bronze Age saw the rise of urbanization into organized city states and the invention of writing (the Uruk period in the fifth millennium BCE). In the Middle Bronze Age movements of people partially changed the political pattern of the Near East (Amorites, Hittites, Hurrians, Hyksos and possibly the Israelites). The Late Bronze Age is characterized by competing powerful kingdoms and their vassal states (Assyria, Babylonia, Hittites, Mitanni). Extensive contacts were made with the Aegean civilization (Ahhiyawa, Alashiya) in which the copper trade played an important role. This period ended in a widespread collapse which affected much of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
Iron began to be worked already in Late Bronze Age Anatolia. The transition into the Iron Age c.1200 BCE was more of a political change in the Near East rather than of new developments in metalworking.

EBA - Early Bronze Age (c.3500-2000 BCE)
MBA - Middle Bronze Age (c.2000-1600 BCE)
LBA - Late Bronze Age (c.1600-1100 BCE) Ancient Near East

Main article: Indus Valley civilization Indian Bronze Age

East Asia

Main article: Erlitou China
In Ban Chiang, Thailand, (Southeast Asia) bronze artifacts have been discovered dating to 2100 BCE [2].
In Nyaunggan, Burma bronze tools have been excavated along with ceramics and stone artefacts . Dating is still currently broad . (3500 BCE - 500 BCE) [3]

Middle Bronze Age Southeast Asia

Main article: Mumun Pottery Period Korean peninsula
The Aegean Bronze Age civilizations 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. Isotopic analysis of the tin in some Mediterranean bronze objects indicates it came from as far away as Great Britain. believe that ancient empires were prone to misvalue staples in favor of luxuries, and thereby perish by famines created by uneconomic trading.

Main article: Bronze Age collapse Europe
In Central Europe, the early Bronze Age Unetice culture (1800-1600 BCE) includes numerous smaller groups like the Straubingen, 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). In the eastern Hungarian Körös tributaries, the early Bronze Age first saw the introduction of the Mako culture, followed by the Ottomany and Gyulavarsand cultures.
The late Bronze Age urnfield culture, (1300 BCE-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).
Important sites include:

Biskupin (Poland)
Nebra (Germany)
Vráble (Slovakia)
Zug-Sumpf, Zug, Switzerland Central Europe

Main article: Nordic Bronze AgeMiddle Bronze Age Northern Europe
Some scholars date some arsenical bronze artefacts of the Maykop culture in the North Caucasus as far back as the mid 4th millennium BCE.


Main article: Bronze Age Britain Great Britain

Ferriby Boats
Langdon Bay hoard - see also Dover Museum
Divers unearth Bronze Age hoard off the coast of Devon
Moor Sands finds, including a remarkably well preserved and complete sword which has parallels with material from the Seine basin of northern France Bronze Age boats
The Bronze Age in Ireland commenced in the centuries around 2000 BCE when copper was alloyed with tin and used to manufacture Ballybeg type flat axes and associated metalwork. The preceding period is known as the Copper Age and is characterised by the production of flat axes, daggers, halberds and awls in copper. The period is divided into three phases Early Bronze Age 2000-1500 BCE; Middle Bronze Age 1500-1200 BC and Late Bronze Age 1200-c.500 BCE. Ireland, is also known for a relatively large number of Early Bronze Age Burials.
The Early Bronze Age: one of the characteristic artifact types of the Copper/Bronze Age in Ireland is the flat axe. There are 5 main types of flat axes, Lough Ravel c.2200 BCE Ballybeg c.2000 BCE, Killaha c.2000 BCE, Ballyvalley c. 2000-1600 BCE, Derryniggin c. 1600 BCE and a number of metal ingots in the shape of axes.


The Bronze Age in the Andes region of South America is thought to have begun at about 900 BCE when Chavin artisans discovered how to alloy copper with tin. The first objects produced were mostly utilitarian in nature, such as axes, knives, and agricultural implements. Decorative work in gold, silver and copper was already a highly developed tradition, and as the Chavin became more experienced in bronze-working technology they produced many ornate and highly decorative objects for administrative, religious, and other ceremonial purposes.


Eogan, George (1983) The hoards of the Irish later Bronze Age, Dublin : University College, 331p., ISBN 0-901120-77-4
Hall, David and Coles, John (1994) Fenland survey : an essay in landscape and persistence, Archaeological report 1, London : English Heritage, 170 p., ISBN 1-85074-477-7
Pernicka, E., Eibner, C., Öztunah, Ö., Wagener, G.A. (2003) "Early Bronze Age Metallurgy in the Northeast Aegean", In: Wagner, G.A., Pernicka, E. and Uerpmann, H-P. (eds), Troia and the Troad : scientific approaches, Natural science in archaeology, Berlin; London : Springer, ISBN 3-540-43711-8, p. 143–172
Waddell, John (1998) The prehistoric archaeology of Ireland, Galway University Press, 433 p., ISBN 1-901421-10-4