The Bronze Age, the time in the development of any
human culture, before the introduction of iron, when most
tools and weapons were made of bronze.
Chronologically, the term is of strictly local value, for
bronze came into use, and was again replaced by iron,
at different times in different parts of the world. It
generally succeeds a culture's Copper Age.
Archaeological discoveries since 1960 have upset
traditional theories concerning the origins of copper and
bronze technologies. It had been thought that the use of
bronze had originated in the Middle East, but
discoveries near Ban Chiang, Thailand, indicate that
bronze technology was known there as early as 4500
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This preceded the working of bronze in the Middle East
by several hundred years. Bronze objects have been
found in Asia Minor that date from before 3000 BC. At
first this alloy was used sparingly, mostly for decorative
purposes; the tin needed to make it was not available in
Regular imports of tin from Cornwall in Britain during the
2d millennium BC, however, made possible wider use
of bronze in the Middle East, and it was eventually
utilized for tools and weapons.
Raw copper was being pounded into tools and
ornaments as early as 10,000 BC. Later discoveries at
Rudna Glava in Yugoslavia have shown that copper was
in use there in 4000 BC, although bronze was not made
at that time.
There exist in Europe the evidences of three
different ages of human development:
1. The Stone Age, which dates back to a vast
antiquity. It is subdivided into two periods: an age of
rough stone implements; and a later age, when
these implements were ground smooth and made
in improved forms.
2. The Bronze Age, when the great mass of
implements were manufactured of a compound
metal, consisting of about nine parts of copper and
one part of tin.
3. An age when iron superseded bronze for
weapons and cutting tools, although bronze still
remained in use for ornaments. This age continued
down to what we call the Historical Period, and
embraces our present civilization; its more ancient
remains are mixed with coins of the Gauls, Greeks,
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By 3000 BC bronze began to be used in Greece. In China
the Bronze Age did not begin until 1800 BC. The
pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas had no bronze
technology until about ad 1000.
The Bronze Age in the Middle East and the eastern
Mediterranean has been divided into three phases early,
middle, and late.
The early phase is characterized by increased use of the
metal, from the sporadic to the common. It was the time of
the Sumerian civilization and the rise of Akkad to
prominence in Mesopotamia; it also generated the
spectacular treasures of Troy.
Babylon reached its height of glory during the middle Bronze
Age. Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece were major
late-Bronze-Age civilizations. The Bronze Age there ended
about 1200 BC, after which iron technology became