The Bronze Age
The Bronze Age was a period in human history when the use of bronze replaced stone for making tools and weapons. It fell between the Stone Age and the Iron Age. The Bronze Age in the Middle East began around 3300 B. C. In Europe, it began around 2000 B. C. The development of bronze brought about changes in methods of agriculture. Some people of The Bronze Age used writing. They were part of a historic period. Those who did not have a written system of recording were called prehistoric.
Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin. The mixture is much harder than each metal by itself. A greater variety of tools and weapons could be made from bronze. The bronze plough, along with irrigation, made farming much easier. Bronze axes were much more efficient for clearing greater areas of land for farming and grazing animals. More food could be grown and stored for later use. Farms became bigger, and farmers marked out boundaries for their properties. The extra food was sold or traded. People no longer depended on hunting or fishing for food.
Development of the wheel allowed people a greater ability to travel and to carry goods to market. Roads were created to help them bring the goods to market. By trading abroad, people became acquainted with those who lived farther away. The development of the potter's wheel brought about more sophisticated bowls and jars for personal use and for trading and selling. Those skilled in metalworking could also produce articles for luxuries like jewelry.
Those who bought and sold bronze and bronze products, as well as the metalworkers, became the wealthiest in each civilization. Society was divided into the very rich, middle class and poor. Visible evidence of the difference in class was revealed in the way people were buried and what items were buried with them.
Navigational tools improved so that the Bronze Age peoples could trade for bronze and bronze products. Mathematics and astronomy developed during the Bronze Age also.
Because bronze was used to make better weapons, rulers supported by armies came into power.
They set up governments and made laws. Better armor and weapons gave some people the desire to use these tools to conquer other nations. Some great battles and wars are known to us through mythology, like the Trojan War between the Greeks and the Trojans. Some come to us through the written record, like the battles in the Old Testament.
Societies entered this age at different periods in history. Some of the best known are those of Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, Mycenae and the Shang dynasty in China. The earliest methods of writing were cuneiform in Mesopotamia and hieroglyphs in Egypt. The cities of the Near East grew to populations of thousands of people.
The Sumerians in Mesopotamia began the art of agriculture around 5500 B. C. Horses and other animals were used for transportation and for food. Egypt followed soon after in agriculture because of the yearly flooding of the Nile which brought rich soil for planting. The Shang Dynasty was the first dynasty in China which we know from archaeological and written evidence. It existed from 1600-1046 B. C. It grew up along the Yellow River. It was famous for its bronze and jade artwork. The Mycenaean era in Greece was the last part of the Bronze Age in Greece. From 1600-1100 B. C., this civilization introduced advances in architecture, engineering and the art of the military. The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the three oldest in the world. It existed throughout Pakistan from 3300-1300 B. C. in the basin of the Indus River. Its people developed urban planning, handicrafts and metallurgy. Its population may have reached five million.
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