Iron Age

Iron Age

Overview
The Iron Age is the archaeological period
Periodization
Periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide time into named blocks. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on periods of time with relatively stable characteristics...

 generally occurring after the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing agricultural practices, religious beliefs and artistic styles. The Iron Age as an archaeological term indicates the condition as to civilization and culture of a people using iron as the material for their cutting tools and weapons.
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Encyclopedia
The Iron Age is the archaeological period
Periodization
Periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide time into named blocks. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on periods of time with relatively stable characteristics...

 generally occurring after the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing agricultural practices, religious beliefs and artistic styles. The Iron Age as an archaeological term indicates the condition as to civilization and culture of a people using iron as the material for their cutting tools and weapons. The Iron Age is the 3rd principal period of the three-age system
Three-age system
The three-age system in archaeology and physical anthropology is the periodization of human prehistory into three consecutive time periods, named for their respective tool-making technologies:* The Stone Age* The Bronze Age* The Iron Age-Origin:...

 created by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen
Christian Jürgensen Thomsen
Christian Jürgensen Thomsen was a Danish archaeologist.In 1816 he was appointed head of 'antiquarian' collections which later developed into the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. While organizing and classifying the antiquities for exhibition, he decided to present them chronologically...

 for classifying ancient societies and prehistoric stages of progress.

In historical archaeology
Historical archaeology
Historical archaeology is a form of archaeology dealing with topics that are already attested in written records. These records can both complement and conflict with the archaeological evidence found at a particular site. Studies tend to focus on literate, historical-period societies as opposed...

, the ancient literature
Ancient literature
The history of literature begins with the history of writing, in Bronze Age Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.Writing develops out of proto-literate sign systems by the 30th century BC, although the oldest literary texts that have come down to us are several centuries younger, dating to the 27th or...

 of the Iron Age includes the earliest texts preserved in manuscript tradition. Sanskrit literature
Sanskrit literature
Literature in Sanskrit begins with the Vedas, and continues with the Sanskrit Epics of Iron Age India; the golden age of Classical Sanskrit literature dates to late Antiquity . Literary production saw a late bloom in the 11th century before declining after 1100 AD...

 and Chinese literature
Chinese literature
Chinese literature extends thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the mature fictional novels that arose during the Ming Dynasty to entertain the masses of literate Chinese...

 flourished in the Age. Other text includes the Avesta
Avesta
The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language.-Early transmission:The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas,...

n Gatha
Gatha
Gatha is a type of metered and often rhythmic poetic verse or a phrase in the ancient Indian languages of Prakrit and Sanskrit. The word is originally derived from the Sanskrit/Prakrit root gai , which means, to speak, sing, recite or extol. Hence gatha can mean either speech, verse or a song...

s, the Indian Vedas and the oldest parts of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

. The principal feature that distinguishes the Iron Age from the preceding ages is the introduction of alphabetic character
Alphabet
An alphabet is a standard set of letters—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme in a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic...

s, and the consequent development of written language
History of writing
The history of writing records the development of expressing language by letters or other marks. In the history of how systems of representation of language through graphic means have evolved in different human civilizations, more complete writing systems were preceded by proto-writing, systems of...

 which enabled literature
Ancient literature
The history of literature begins with the history of writing, in Bronze Age Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.Writing develops out of proto-literate sign systems by the 30th century BC, although the oldest literary texts that have come down to us are several centuries younger, dating to the 27th or...

 and historic record
Recorded history
Recorded history is the period in history of the world after prehistory. It has been written down using language, or recorded using other means of communication. It starts around the 4th millennium BC, with the invention of writing.-Historical accounts:...

.

The beginning of the Iron Age in Europe and adjacent areas is characterized by forms of implements, weapons, personal ornaments, and pottery, and also by systems of decorative design, which are altogether different from those of the preceding age of bronze. The work of blacksmith
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

s, developing implements and weapons, are hammered into shape, and as a necessary consequence the stereotyped forms of their predecessors in bronze, which were cast, but are gradually departed from, and the system of decoration, which in the Bronze Age consisted chiefly of a repetition of rectilinear patterns, gives place to a system of curvilinear and flowing designs. The term "Iron Age" has low real chronological value, for there is not a universal synchronous sequence of the three epochs in all quarters of the world. The dates and context vary depending on the geographical region; the sequence is not necessarily true of every part of the earth's surface, for there are areas, such as the islands of the South Pacific, the interior of Africa, and parts of North and South America, where the peoples have passed directly from the use of stone to the use of iron without the intervention of an age of bronze.

Chronology


Very little is known about human migration
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

 of the 12th to 9th centuries BC, but there were significant population movements. The Dorian invasion
Dorian invasion
The Dorian invasion is a concept devised by historians of Ancient Greece to explain the replacement of pre-classical dialects and traditions in southern Greece by the ones that prevailed in Classical Greece...

 of Greece is conjectured to have led to the Greek Dark Ages
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

. Groups in Anatolia and the Iranian plateau invaded the territory of the Elamite Empire. The Urartians were displaced by Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

, and the Cimmerians
Cimmerians
The Cimmerians or Kimmerians were ancient equestrian nomads of Indo-European origin.According to the Greek historian Herodotus, of the 5th century BC, the Cimmerians inhabited the region north of the Caucasus and the Black Sea during the 8th and 7th centuries BC, in what is now Ukraine and Russia...

 and the Mushki
Mushki
The Mushki were an Iron Age people of Anatolia, known from Assyrian sources. They do not appear in Hittite records. Several authors have connected them with the Moschoi of Greek sources and the Georgian tribe of the Meskhi. Josephus Flavius identified the Moschoi with the Biblical Meshech...

 migrated from the Caucasus into Anatolia. A Thraco-Cimmerian
Thraco-Cimmerian
Thraco-Cimmerian is a historiographical and archaeological term, composed of the names of the Thracians and the Cimmerians. It refers to 8th to 7th century BC cultures that are linked in Eastern Central Europe and in the area north of the Black Sea....

 connection links these movements to the Proto-Celtic world of central Europe, leading to the introduction of Iron to Europe and the Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic expansion to western Europe and the British Isles around 500 BC.

Modern archaeological evidence identifies the start of iron production as taking place in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 around 1200 BC, though some contemporary archaeological evidence points to earlier dates. Around 3000 BC, iron was a scarce and precious metal in the Near East. Iron's qualities, in contrast to those of bronze, were not understood. Between 1200 BC and 1000 BC, diffusion in the understanding of iron metallurgy and utilization of iron objects was fast and far-flung. In the history of ferrous metallurgy
History of ferrous metallurgy
The history of ferrous metallurgy began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 5th millennium BC in Iran and 2nd millennium BC in China, were made from meteoritic iron-nickel. It is not known when or where the smelting of iron from ores began, but by the end of the...

, iron smelting
Smelting
Smelting is a form of extractive metallurgy; its main use is to produce a metal from its ore. This includes iron extraction from iron ore, and copper extraction and other base metals from their ores...

 — the extraction of usable metal from oxidized iron ores — is more difficult than tin and copper smelting. While these metals and their alloys can be cold-worked or melted in relatively simple furnaces (such as the kilns used for pottery) and cast into molds, smelted iron requires hot-working and can be melted only in specially designed furnaces. Thus it is not surprising that humans only mastered the technology of smelted iron after several millennia of bronze metallurgy.

It was thought that the lack of archaeological evidence of iron production made it seem unlikely that iron production was begun earlier elsewhere, and the Iron Age was seen as a case of simple diffusion of a new and superior technology from an invention point in Near East to other regions. It is known in the present age that meteoric iron
Iron meteorite
Iron meteorites are meteorites that consist overwhelmingly of nickel-iron alloys. The metal taken from these meteorites is known as meteoric iron and was one of the earliest sources of usable iron available to humans.-Occurrence:...

, or iron-nickel alloy, was used by various ancient peoples thousands of years before the Iron Age. Such iron, being in its native metallic state, required no smelting
Smelting
Smelting is a form of extractive metallurgy; its main use is to produce a metal from its ore. This includes iron extraction from iron ore, and copper extraction and other base metals from their ores...

 of ores. By the Middle Bronze Age, increasing numbers of smelted iron objects (distinguishable from meteoric iron by the lack of nickel in the product) appeared in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.

Iron in its natural form is very soft, though harder than bronze, and is not useful for tools unless it is combined with carbon to make steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

. The percentage of carbon determines important characteristics of the final product: the lower the carbon content the softer the product, the higher the carbon content the harder the product. The systematic production and use of iron implements in Anatolia begins around 2000 BC. Recent archaeological research in the Ganges Valley, India showed early iron working by 1800 BC. However, this metal was expensive, perhaps because of the technical processes required to make steel, the most useful iron product. It is attested in both documents and in archaeological contexts as a substance used in high value items such as jewellery.

Snodgrass suggests that a shortage of tin, as a part of the Bronze Age Collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

 and trade disruptions in the Mediterranean around 1300 BC, forced metalworkers
Smith (metalwork)
A metalsmith, often shortened to smith, is a person involved in making metal objects. In contemporary use a metalsmith is a person who uses metal as a material, uses traditional metalsmithing techniques , whose work thematically relates to the practice or history of the practice, or who engages in...

 to seek an alternative to bronze. There is evidence of this in that many bronze items were recycled and made from implements into weapons during this time. With more widespread use of iron, the technology needed to produce workable steel was developed and the price lowered. As a result, even when tin became available again, iron had become the metal of choice for tools and weapons, and was cheap enough that it could replace bronze. Forged iron implements superseded cast bronze tools. Iron, as a stronger and lighter material, becomes a technological advantage for civilizations that use it.

Recent archaeological work has modified not only this chronology, but also the causes of the transition from bronze to iron. New dates from India suggest that iron was being worked there as early as 1800 BC, and African sites are turning up dates as early as 1200 BC, confounding the idea that there was a simple discovery and diffusion model. Increasingly, the Iron Age in Europe is being seen as a part of the Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

 in the ancient Near East
Ancient Near East
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia , ancient Egypt, ancient Iran The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia...

, in ancient India
History of India
The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

 (with the post-Rigvedic
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

 Vedic civilization), ancient Iran
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

, and ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 (with the Greek Dark Ages). In other regions of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, the Iron Age began in the 8th century BC in Central Europe and the 6th century BC in Northern Europe
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

. The Near Eastern Iron Age is divided into two subsections, Iron I and Iron II. Iron I (1200–1000 BC) illustrates both continuity and discontinuity with the previous Late Bronze Age. There is no definitive cultural break between the 13th and 12th century BC throughout the entire region, although certain new features in the hill country, Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

, and coastal region may suggest the appearance of the Aramaean and Sea People groups. There is evidence, however, that shows strong continuity with Bronze Age culture, although as one moves later into Iron I the culture begins to diverge more significantly from that of the late 2nd millennium.

History



During the Iron Age, the best tools and weapons were made from steel, particularly alloys which were produced with a carbon
Carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 content between approximately 0.30% and 1.2% by weight. Alloys with less carbon than this, such as wrought iron
Wrought iron
thumb|The [[Eiffel tower]] is constructed from [[puddle iron]], a form of wrought ironWrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon...

, cannot be heat treated
Heat treatment
Heat treating is a group of industrial and metalworking processes used to alter the physical, and sometimes chemical, properties of a material. The most common application is metallurgical. Heat treatments are also used in the manufacture of many other materials, such as glass...

 to a significant degree and will consequently be of low hardness, while a higher carbon content creates an extremely hard but brittle material that cannot be annealed
Annealing (metallurgy)
Annealing, in metallurgy and materials science, is a heat treatment wherein a material is altered, causing changes in its properties such as strength and hardness. It is a process that produces conditions by heating to above the recrystallization temperature, maintaining a suitable temperature, and...

, tempered
Tempering
Tempering is a heat treatment technique for metals, alloys and glass. In steels, tempering is done to "toughen" the metal by transforming brittle martensite or bainite into a combination of ferrite and cementite or sometimes Tempered martensite...

, or otherwise softened. Steel weapons and tools were nearly the same weight as those of bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

, but stronger. However, steel was difficult to produce with the methods available, and alloys that were easier to make, such as wrought iron, were more common in lower-priced goods. Many techniques have been used to create steel; Mediterranean ones differ dramatically from African ones, for example. Sometimes the final product is all steel, sometimes techniques like case hardening
Case hardening
Case hardening or surface hardening is the process of hardening the surface of a metal, often a low carbon steel, by infusing elements into the material's surface, forming a thin layer of a harder alloy...

 or forge welding
Forge welding
Forge welding is a solid-state welding process that joins two pieces of metal by heating them to a high temperature and then hammering them together. The process is one of the simplest methods of joining metals and has been used since ancient times. Forge welding is versatile, being able to join a...

 were used to make cutting edges stronger.

Near East


Southeast Asia / Middle East

In Chaldaea and Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, the initial use of iron reaches far back, to perhaps 4000 BC. One of the earliest smelted iron artifacts known is a dagger with an iron blade found in a Hatti
Hattians
The Hattians were an ancient people who inhabited the land of Hatti in present-day central part of Anatolia, Turkey, noted at least as early as the empire of Sargon of Akkad , until they were gradually displaced and absorbed ca...

c tomb in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

, dating from 2500 BC. The widespread use of iron weapons which replaced bronze weapons rapidly disseminated throughout the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

 (southwest Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

) by the beginning of the 1st millennium BC.

Finds of Iron
:Early examples and distribution of non precious metal finds.
Date Crete Aegean Greece Cyprus Total Anatolia Grand total
1300–1200 BC 5 2 9 0 16 33 49
1200–1100 BC 1 2 8 26 37 N.A. 37
1100–1000 BC 13 3 31 33 80 N.A. 80
1000–900 BC 37+ 30 115 29 211 N.A. 211
Total Bronze Age 5 2 9 0 16 33 49
Total Iron Age 51 35 163 88 328 N.A. 328

 

 

Near East timeline

Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
Prehistoric (or Proto-historic
Protohistory
Protohistory refers to a period between prehistory and history, during which a culture or civilization has not yet developed writing, but other cultures have already noted its existence in their own writings...

) Iron Age Historic Iron Age

Ancient Near East



The Iron Age in the Ancient Near East
Ancient Near East
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia , ancient Egypt, ancient Iran The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia...

 is believed to have begun with the discovery of iron smelting and smithing techniques in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 or the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 and Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 in the late 2nd millennium BC
2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent propagates the use of the chariot...

 (c. 1300 BC). However, this theory has been challenged by the emergence of those placing the transition in price and availability issues rather than the development of technology on its own. The earliest bloomery
Bloomery
A bloomery is a type of furnace once widely used for smelting iron from its oxides. The bloomery was the earliest form of smelter capable of smelting iron. A bloomery's product is a porous mass of iron and slag called a bloom. This mix of slag and iron in the bloom is termed sponge iron, which...

 smelting of iron is found at Tell Hammeh
Tell Hammeh
Tell Hammeh is a relatively small tell in the central Jordan Valley, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, located where the Zarqa River valley opens into the Jordan Valley. It is close to several of the larger tells in this part of the Jordan Valley Tell Hammeh (Arabic:تـل حـمـه)is a relatively small tell...

, Jordan around 930 BC (C14 dating).

The development of iron smelting was once attributed to the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 of Anatolia during the Late Bronze Age. It was believed that they maintained a monopoly on ironworking, and that their empire had been based on that advantage. Accordingly, the invading Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

 were responsible for spreading the knowledge through that region. This theory is no longer held in the common current thought of the majority of scholarship, since there is no archaeological evidence of the alleged Hittite monopoly. While there are some iron objects from Bronze Age Anatolia, the number is comparable to iron objects found in Egypt and other places of the same time period; and only a small number of these objects are weapons. As part of the Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age, the Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

 saw the slow, comparatively continuous spread of iron-working technology in the region. The Ugaritic script was in use during this time, around 1300 BC. Ugarit
Ugarit
Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

 was one of the centres of the literate world.

Assyro-Babylonian literature, written in the Akkadian language, of Mesopotamia (Assyria and Babylonia) continues into the Iron Age up until the 6th centuries BC. The oldest Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

 inscription is the Ahiram epitaph, engraved on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram
Ahiram
Ahiram or, more correctly, Ahirom was a Phoenician king of Byblos Ahirom is not attested in any other Ancient Oriental source. He became famous only by his Phoenician inscribed sarcophagus which was discovered in 1923 by the French excavator Pierre Montet in tomb V of the royal necropolis of Byblos...

 from circa 1200 BC. It has become conventional to refer to the alphabetic script as "Proto-Canaanite" until the mid-11th century BC, when it is first attested on inscribed bronze arrowheads, and as "Phoenician" only after 1050 BC. The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

 is identical to the Phoenician alphabet and dates to the 10th century BC.

Europe


In Europe, the use of iron covers the last years of the prehistoric period and the early years of the historic period. The regional Iron Age may be defined as including the last stages of the prehistoric period and the first of the proto-historic periods. Iron working was introduced to Europe in the late 11th century BC, probably from the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, and slowly spread northwards and westwards over the succeeding 500 years. The widespread use of the technology of iron was implemented in Europe simultaneously with Asia.

The usage of iron in northern Europe would seem to have been fairly general long before the invasion of Caesar. But iron was not in common use in Denmark until the 1st century AD. In the north of Russia and Siberia, its introduction was even as late as AD 800, whereas Ireland entered its Iron Age about the beginning of the 1st century. In Gaul, on the other hand, the Iron Age dates back some 500 years BC; whereas in Etruria
Etruria
Etruria—usually referred to in Greek and Latin source texts as Tyrrhenia—was a region of Central Italy, an area that covered part of what now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria. A particularly noteworthy work dealing with Etruscan locations is D. H...

 the metal was known some six centuries earlier. As the knowledge of iron seems to have travelled over Europe from the south northward, the commencement of the Iron Age was very much earlier in the southern than in the northern countries. Homer represents Greece as beginning her Iron Age twelve hundred years before the Common era. Greece, as represented in the Homeric poems, was then in the transition period from bronze to iron, while Scandinavia was only entering its Iron Age about the time of the Common era.

The Iron Age in Europe is characterized by an elaboration of designs in weapons, implements, and utensils. These are no longer cast but hammered into shape, and decoration is elaborate curvilinear rather than simple rectilinear; the forms and character of the ornamentation of the northern European weapons resembles in some respects Roman arms, while in other respects they are peculiar and evidently representative of northern art. The dead were buried in an extended position, whereas in the preceding Bronze Age cremation had been the rule.

European timeline


Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
Prehistoric (or Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age

Eastern Europe


The early 1st millennium BC marks the Iron Age in Eastern Europe. In the Pontic steppe and the Caucasus region, the Iron Age begins with the Koban
Koban culture
The Koban culture is a late Bronze Age and Iron Age culture of the northern and central Caucasus. It is preceded by the Colchian culture of the western Caucasus and the Kharachoi culture further east....

 and the Chernogorovka and Novocherkassk
Novocherkassk culture
The Chernogorovka and Novocherkassk cultures are Iron Age steppe cultures in Ukraine and Russia, centered between the Prut and the lower Don. They are pre-Scythian cultures, associated with the Cimmerians....

 cultures from c. 900 BC. By 800 BC, it was spreading to Hallstatt C
Hallstatt culture
The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Central European culture from the 8th to 6th centuries BC , developing out of the Urnfield culture of the 12th century BC and followed in much of Central Europe by the La Tène culture.By the 6th century BC, the Hallstatt culture extended for some...

 via the alleged "Thraco-Cimmerian
Thraco-Cimmerian
Thraco-Cimmerian is a historiographical and archaeological term, composed of the names of the Thracians and the Cimmerians. It refers to 8th to 7th century BC cultures that are linked in Eastern Central Europe and in the area north of the Black Sea....

" migrations.

Along with Chernogorovka and Novocherkassk cultures, on the territory of ancient Russia and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 the Iron Age is to a significant extent associated with Scythians, who developed iron culture since the 7th century BC. The majority of remains of their iron producing and blacksmith's industries from 5th to 3rd century BC was found near Nikopol in Kamenskoe Gorodishche, which is believed to be the specialized metallurgic
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

 region of the ancient Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

.

From the Hallstatt culture, the Iron Age spreads west with the Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic expansion from the 6th century BC. In Poland, the Iron Age reaches the late Lusatian culture
Lusatian culture
The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age in most of today's Poland, parts of Czech Republic and Slovakia, parts of eastern Germany and parts of Ukraine...

 in about the 6th century, followed in some areas by the Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

n culture.

The ethnic ascriptions of many Iron Age cultures has been bitterly contested, as the roots of Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

, Baltic
Balts
The Balts or Baltic peoples , defined as speakers of one of the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, are descended from a group of Indo-European tribes who settled the area between the Jutland peninsula in the west and Moscow, Oka and Volga rivers basins in the east...

 and Slavic peoples were sought in this area.

Central Europe


In Central Europe, the Iron Age is generally divided in the early Iron Age Hallstatt culture
Hallstatt culture
The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Central European culture from the 8th to 6th centuries BC , developing out of the Urnfield culture of the 12th century BC and followed in much of Central Europe by the La Tène culture.By the 6th century BC, the Hallstatt culture extended for some...

 (HaC and D, 800–450) and the late Iron Age La Tène culture
La Tène culture
The La Tène culture was a European Iron Age culture named after the archaeological site of La Tène on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where a rich cache of artifacts was discovered by Hansli Kopp in 1857....

 (beginning in 450 BC). The transition from bronze to iron in Central Europe is exemplified in the great cemetery, discovered in 1846, of Hallstatt, near Gmunden, where the forms of the implements and weapons of the later part of the Bronze Age are imitated in iron. In the Swiss or La Tene group of implements and weapons the forms are new and transition complete.

The Celtic culture, or rather Proto-Celtic groups, had expanded to much of Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

, (Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

) and following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans
Gallic invasion of the Balkans
Gallic groups, originating from the various La Tène chiefdoms, began a south-eastern movement into the Balkan peninsula from the 4th century BC. Although Celtic settlements were concentrated in the western half of the Carpathian basin, there were notable incursions, and settlements, within the...

 in 279 BC as far east as central Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 (Galatia
Galatia
Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia in modern Turkey. Galatia was named for the immigrant Gauls from Thrace , who settled here and became its ruling caste in the 3rd century BC, following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC. It has been called the "Gallia" of...

ns). In Central Europe, the prehistoric Iron Age ends with the Roman Conquest.

Aegean



In the Greek Dark Ages
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

, there was a widespread availability of edged weapons of iron, but a variety of explanations fits the available archaeological evidence. From around 1200 BC, the palace centres and outlying settlements of the Mycenaean culture began to be abandoned or destroyed, and by 1050 BC, the recognisable cultural features (such as Linear B script) had disappeared.

The Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

 began in the 8th century BC. It is descended from the Phoenician alphabet. The Greeks adapted the system, notably introducing characters for vowel sounds and thereby creating the first truly alphabetic (as opposed to abjad
Abjad
An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

) writing system. As Greece sent out colonies west towards Sicily and Italy (Pithekoussae, Cumae
Cumae
Cumae is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy , and the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl...

), the influence of their alphabet extended further. The ceramic Euboean artifact inscribed with a few lines written in the Greek alphabet referring to "Nestor's cup
Nestor's Cup
The term Cup of Nestor or Nestor's Cup can refer to:#A golden mixing cup, described in Homer's Iliad, belonging to Nestor, the king of Pylos....

", discovered in a grave at Pithekoussae (Ischia) dates from c. 730 BC; it seems to be the oldest written reference to the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

. The fragmentary Epic Cycles, a collection of Ancient Greek epic poems that related the story of the Trojan War, were a distillation in literary form of an oral tradition developed during the Greek Dark Age. The traditional material from which the literary epics were drawn treats the Mycenaean Bronze Age culture from the perspective of Iron Age and later Greece.

Southern Europe



In Italy, the Iron Age was probably introduced by the Villanovan culture
Villanovan culture
The Villanovan culture was the earliest Iron Age culture of central and northern Italy, abruptly following the Bronze Age Terramare culture and giving way in the 7th century BC to an increasingly orientalizing culture influenced by Greek traders, which was followed without a severe break by the...

 but this culture is otherwise considered a Bronze Age culture, while the following Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

 is regarded as part of Iron Age proper. The Etruscans Old Italic
Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic refers to several now extinct alphabet systems used on the Italian Peninsula in ancient times for various Indo-European languages and non-Indo-European languages...

 alphabet spread throughout Italy from the 8th century. The Etruscan Iron Age was then ended with the rise and conquest of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, which conquered the last Etruscan city of Velzna in 265 BC.

Western Europe


The 'Celtic' culture had expanded to the group of islands of northwest Europe (Insular Celts
Insular Celts
The Insular Celts are the speakers of Insular Celtic languages.-Pre-Celtic Britain:Little is known of the culture and language of pre-Celtic Britain, but remnants of the latter may remain in the names of some geographical features, such as the rivers Clyde, Tamar and Thames, whose etymology is...

) and Iberia (Celtiberians
Celtiberians
The Celtiberians were Celtic-speaking people of the Iberian Peninsula in the final centuries BC. The group used the Celtic Celtiberian language.Archaeologically, the Celtiberians participated in the Hallstatt culture in what is now north-central Spain...

, Celtici
Celtici
]The Celtici were a Celtic tribe or group of tribes of the Iberian peninsula, inhabiting three definite areas: in what today are the provinces of Alentejo and the Algarve in Portugal; in the Province of Badajoz and north of Province of Huelva in Spain, in the ancient Baeturia; and along the...

 and Gallaeci). On the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

, the British Iron Age
British Iron Age
The British Iron Age is a conventional name used in the archaeology of Great Britain, referring to the prehistoric and protohistoric phases of the Iron-Age culture of the main island and the smaller islands, typically excluding prehistoric Ireland, and which had an independent Iron Age culture of...

 lasted from about 800 BC until the Roman Conquest
Roman conquest of Britain
The Roman conquest of Britain was a gradual process, beginning effectively in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, whose general Aulus Plautius served as first governor of Britannia. Great Britain had already frequently been the target of invasions, planned and actual, by forces of the Roman Republic and...

 and until the 5th century in non-Romanised parts. Structures dating from this time are often impressive, for example the broch
Broch
A broch is an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structure of a type found only in Scotland. Brochs include some of the most sophisticated examples of drystone architecture ever created, and belong to the classification "complex Atlantic Roundhouse" devised by Scottish archaeologists in the 1980s....

s and dun
Dun
Dun is now used both as a generic term for a fort and also for a specific variety of Atlantic roundhouse...

s of northern Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and the hill fort
Hill fort
A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage. They are typically European and of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Some were used in the post-Roman period...

s that dotted the island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

s. On the Iberian peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, the Paleohispanic scripts
Paleohispanic scripts
The Paleohispanic scripts are the writing systems created in the Iberian peninsula before the Latin alphabet became the dominant script...

 began to be used between 7th century to the 5th century BC. These scripts were used until the end of the 1st century BC or the beginning of the 1st century AD.

Northern Europe


The early Iron Age forms of Scandinavia show no traces of Roman influence, though these become abundant toward the middle of the period. The duration of the Iron Age is variously estimated according as its commencement is placed nearer to or farther from the opening years of the Christian era; but it is agreed on all hands that the last division of the Iron Age of Scandinavia, the Viking Period, is to be taken as from 700 to 1000 AD, when paganism in those lands was superseded by Christianity.

The Iron Age north of the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 is divided into the Pre-Roman Iron Age
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

 and the Roman Iron Age
Roman Iron Age
The Roman Iron Age is the name that Swedish archaeologist Oscar Montelius gave to a part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Netherlands....

. In Scandinavia, further periods followed up to AD 1100: the Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

, the Vendel or Merovingian Period
Vendel era
In Swedish prehistory, the Vendel era is the name given to a part of the Germanic Iron Age ....

 and the Viking Period. The earliest part of the Iron Age in north-western Germany and southern Jutland
Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

 was dominated by the Jastorf culture
Jastorf culture
The Jastorf culture is an Iron Age material culture in what is now north Germany, spanning the 6th to 1st centuries BC, forming the southern part of the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The culture evolved out of the Nordic Bronze Age, through influence from the Halstatt culture farther south...

.

Early Scandinavian iron production typically involved the harvesting of bog iron
Bog iron
Bog iron refers to impure iron deposits that develop in bogs or swamps by the chemical or biochemical oxidation of iron carried in the solutions. In general, bog ores consist primarily of iron oxyhydroxides, commonly goethite...

. The Scandinavian peninsula, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 show sophisticated iron production from c. 500 BC. Metalworking and Asbestos-Ceramic
Asbestos-Ceramic
Asbestos-ceramic refers to types of pottery manufactured with asbestos and clay with adiabatic behaviour in Finland, Karelia and Northern-Scandinavia...

 pottery co-occur to some extent. Another iron ore used was iron sand
Black sand
Black sand is sand that is black in color. One type of black sand is a heavy, glossy, partly magnetic mixture of usually fine sands, found as part of a placer deposit. Another type of black sand, found on beaches near a volcano, consists of tiny fragments of lava.While some beaches are...

 (such as red soil). Its high phosphorus content can be identified in slag
Slag
Slag is a partially vitreous by-product of smelting ore to separate the metal fraction from the unwanted fraction. It can usually be considered to be a mixture of metal oxides and silicon dioxide. However, slags can contain metal sulfides and metal atoms in the elemental form...

. Such slag is sometimes found together with asbestos ware
Asbestos-Ceramic
Asbestos-ceramic refers to types of pottery manufactured with asbestos and clay with adiabatic behaviour in Finland, Karelia and Northern-Scandinavia...

-associated axe types belonging to the Ananjino Culture.

Asia


The widespread use of the technology of iron was implemented in Asia simultaneously with Europe. In China, the use of iron reaches far back, to perhaps 4000 years before the Common era.

Central Asia


The Iron Age in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 began when iron objects appear among the Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 Saka
Saka
The Saka were a Scythian tribe or group of tribes....

 in present-day Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 between the 10th century BC and the 7th century BC, such as those found at the cemetery site of Chawuhukou.

North Asia


The Pazyryk culture
Pazyryk culture
The Pazyryk culture is an Iron Age archaeological culture identified by excavated artifacts and mummified humans found in the Siberian permafrost in the Altay Mountains. The mummies are buried in long barrows similar to the tomb mounds of western Scythian culture in modern Ukraine...

 is an Iron Age archaeological culture
Archaeological culture
An archaeological culture is a recurring assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which are thought to constitute the material culture remains of a particular past human society. The connection between the artifacts is based on archaeologists' understanding and interpretation and...

 (ca. 6th to 3rd centuries BC) identified by excavated artifacts and mummified humans found in the Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

n permafrost
Permafrost
In geology, permafrost, cryotic soil or permafrost soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water for two or more years. Ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of...

 in the Altay Mountains
Altay Mountains
The Altai Mountains are a mountain range in East-Central Asia, where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together, and where the rivers Irtysh and Ob have their sources. The Altai Mountains are known as the original locus of the speakers of Turkic as well as other members of the proposed...

.
South Asia timeline

Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
Prehistoric (or Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age

Indian Subcontinent

The history of metallurgy in the Indian subcontinent began during the 2nd millennium BC. Archaeological sites in India, such as Malhar, Dadupur, Raja Nala Ka Tila and Lahuradewa in present day Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

 show iron implements in the period 1800 BC – 1200 BC. Archaeological excavations in Hyderabad show an iron age burial site. Rakesh Tewari believes that around the beginning of the Indian Iron Age (13th century BC), iron smelting was widely practiced in India. Such use suggests that the date of the technology's inception may be around the 16th century BC.

Epic India
Epic India
Epic India is the geography of Greater India traditionally around early 10th century BC and later on from the Sanskrit epics, viz. the Mahabharata and the Ramayana as well as Puranic literature ....

 is traditionally placed around early 10th century BC and later on from the Sanskrit epics of Sanskrit literature
Sanskrit literature
Literature in Sanskrit begins with the Vedas, and continues with the Sanskrit Epics of Iron Age India; the golden age of Classical Sanskrit literature dates to late Antiquity . Literary production saw a late bloom in the 11th century before declining after 1100 AD...

. Composed between approximately 1500 BC and 600 BC of pre-classical Sanskrit, the Vedic literature forms four Vedas (the Rig, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva). The main period of Vedic literary activity is the 9th to 7th centuries when the various schools of thought compiled and memorized their respective corpora. Following this, the scholarship around 500 to 100 BC organized knowledge into Sutra
Sutra
Sūtra is an aphorism or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Literally it means a thread or line that holds things together and is derived from the verbal root siv-, meaning to sew , as does the medical term...

 treatises.

The beginning of the 1st millennium BC saw extensive developments in iron metallurgy in India. Technological advancement and mastery of iron metallurgy was achieved during this period of peaceful settlements. One iron working centre in east India
East India
East India is a region of India consisting of the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Orissa. The states of Orissa and West Bengal share some cultural and linguistic characteristics with Bangladesh and with the state of Assam. Together with Bangladesh, West Bengal formed the...

 has been dated to the first millennium BC. In Southern India (present day Mysore) iron appeared as early as 12th to 11th centuries BC; these developments were too early for any significant close contact with the northwest of the country. The Indian Upanishad
Upanishad
The Upanishads are philosophical texts considered to be an early source of Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main or old Upanishads...

s mention metallurgy. and the Indian Mauryan period saw advances in metallurgy. As early as 300 BC, certainly by AD 200, high quality steel was produced in southern India, by what would later be called the crucible technique
Crucible steel
Crucible steel describes a number of different techniques for making steel in a crucible. Its manufacture is essentially a refining process which is dependent on preexisting furnace products...

. In this system, high-purity wrought iron, charcoal, and glass were mixed in crucible and heated until the iron melted and absorbed the carbon.

The origins of the Brāhmī script
Brāhmī script
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

 dates to the 6th century BC. The contact of the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 region with the Near East occurred with the expansion of the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 under Darius the Great to the Indus valley. The script to write an Indo-Aryan languages occurred is shows up in the reign of Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka
Edicts of Ashoka
The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 269 BCE to 231 BCE. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Bangladesh, India,...

 in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BC. The Bhattiprolu script
Bhattiprolu Script
The Bhattiprolu script is a variant of the Brahmi script which has been found in old inscriptions at Bhattiprolu, a small village in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, South India...

 have been found in old inscriptions located in the fertile Krishna river
Krishna River
The Krishna River , is one of the longest rivers in central-southern India, about . It is also referred to as Krishnaveni in its original nomenclature...

 delta and the estuary region where the river meets the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

. The inscriptions date to before 100 BC, putting them among the earliest evidence of Brahmi writing in South India.
Sri Lanka

The protohistoric Early Iron Age in Sri Lanka lasted from 1000 to 600 BC. Radiocarbon evidence has been collected from Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura, , is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic...

 and Aligala shelter in Sigiriya
Sigiriya
Sigiriya is a large stone and ancient rock fortress and palace ruin in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures...

. The Anuradhapura settlement is recorded to extend 10 hectares by 800 BC and grew to 50 hectares by 700 - 600 BC to become a town. The skeletal remains of an Early Iron Age chief was excavated in Anaikoddai, Jaffna
Jaffna
Jaffna is the capital city of the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna district located on a peninsula of the same name. Jaffna is approximately six miles away from Kandarodai which served as a famous emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical...

. The name 'Ko Veta' is engraved in Brahmi script on a seal buried with the skeleton and is assigned by the excavators to the 3rd century BC. Ko, meaning "King" in Tamil, is comparable to such names as Ko Atan and Ko Putivira occurring in contemporary Brahmi
Brahmi
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

 inscriptions in south India. It is also speculated that Early Iron Age sites may exist in Kandarodai, Matota, Pilapitiya and Tissamaharama.
East Asia timeline

Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
Prehistoric (or Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age

China


In China, Chinese bronze inscriptions are found around 1200 BC. The development of iron metallurgy was transpired by the 9th century BC. The large seal script
Large Seal Script
Large Seal script or Great Seal script is a traditional reference to Chinese writing from before the Qin dynasty, and is now popularly understood to refer narrowly to the writing of the Western and early Eastern Zhou dynasties, and more broadly to also include the oracle bone script...

 is identified with a group of characters from a book entitled Shĭ Zhoù Piān (ca. 800 BC). Iron metallurgy reached the Yangzi Valley toward the end of the 6th century BC. The few objects were found at Changsha and Nanjing. The mortuary evidence suggests that the initial use of iron in Lingnan belongs to the mid-to-late Warring States period (from about 350 BC). Important non-precious husi style metal finds include Iron tools found at the Tomb at Ku-wei ts'un of the fourth century BC..

The techniques used in Lingnan are a combination of bivalve moulds of distinct southern tradition and the incorporation of piece mould technology from the Zhongyuan. The products of the combination of these two periods are bells, vessels, weapons and ornaments and the sophisticated cast.

An Iron Age culture of the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 has tentatively been associated with the Zhang Zhung culture
Zhang Zhung culture
Zhang Zhung, Shang Shung, or Tibetan Pinyin Xang Xung, was an ancient culture and kingdom of western and northwestern Tibet, which pre-dates the culture of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet. Zhang Zhung culture is associated with the Bon religion, which in turn, has influenced the philosophies and...

 described in early Tibetan writings.
Korea



Iron objects were introduced to the Korean peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

 through trade with chiefdoms and state-level societies in the Yellow Sea
Yellow Sea
The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

 area in the 4th century BC, just at the end of the Warring States Period but before the Western Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 began. Yoon proposes that iron was first introduced to chiefdoms located along North Korean river valleys that flow into the Yellow Sea such as the Cheongcheon and Taedong Rivers. Iron production quickly followed in the 2nd century BC, and iron implements came to be used by farmers by the 1st century in southern Korea. The earliest known cast-iron axes in southern Korea are found in the Geum River
Geum River
The Geum-gang River is located in South Korea. It is a major river that originates in Jangsu-eub, North Jeolla Province. It flows northward through North Jeolla and North Chungcheong Provinces and then changes direction in the vicinity of Greater Daejeon and flows southwest through South...

 basin. The time that iron production begins is the same time that complex chiefdoms of Proto-historic Korea
Samhan
The Samhan period of Korean history comprises confederacies of Mahan, Jinhan, and Byeonhan in central and southern Korean peninsula, during the final century BCE and the early centuries CE....

 emerged. The complex chiefdoms were the precursors of early states such as Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

, Baekje
Baekje
Baekje or Paekche was a kingdom located in southwest Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla....

, Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

, and Gaya
Gaya confederacy
Gaya was a confederacy of territorial polities in the Nakdong River basin of southern Korea, growing out of the Byeonhan confederacy of the Samhan period.The traditional period used by historians for Gaya chronology is 42–532 CE...

 Iron ingots were an important mortuary item and indicated the wealth or prestige of the deceased in this period.
Japan


The Yayoi period
Yayoi period
The is an Iron Age era in the history of Japan traditionally dated 300 BC to 300 AD. It is named after the neighbourhood of Tokyo where archaeologists first uncovered artifacts and features from that era. Distinguishing characteristics of the Yayoi period include the appearance of new...

 is an era in the history of Japan
History of Japan
The history of Japan encompasses the history of the islands of Japan and the Japanese people, spanning the ancient history of the region to the modern history of Japan as a nation state. Following the last ice age, around 12,000 BC, the rich ecosystem of the Japanese Archipelago fostered human...

 from about 300 BC to AD 300. Distinguishing characteristics of the Yayoi period include the appearance of new pottery styles and the start of an intensive rice agriculture in paddy fields. The Yayoi followed the Jōmon period
Jomon period
The is the time in Japanese prehistory from about 14,000 BC to 300 BC.The term jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. This refers to the pottery style characteristic of the Jōmon culture, and which has markings made using sticks with cords wrapped around them...

 (14,000 BC to 300 BC) and Yayoi culture flourished in a geographic area from southern Kyūshū
Kyushu
is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands. Its alternate ancient names include , , and . The historical regional name is referred to Kyushu and its surrounding islands....

 to northern Honshū
Honshu
is the largest island of Japan. The nation's main island, it is south of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu across the Kanmon Strait...

.

The succeeding Kofun period
Kofun period
The is an era in the history of Japan from around 250 to 538. It follows the Yayoi period. The word kofun is Japanese for the type of burial mounds dating from this era. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period...

 lasts from around 250 to 538. The word kofun is Japanese for the type of burial mound
Tumulus
A tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgrab or kurgans, and can be found throughout much of the world. A tumulus composed largely or entirely of stones is usually referred to as a cairn...

s dating from this era. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka period
Asuka period
The , was a period in the history of Japan lasting from 538 to 710 , although its beginning could be said to overlap with the preceding Kofun period...

s are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period
Yamato period
The is the period of Japanese history when the Japanese Imperial court ruled from modern-day Nara Prefecture, then known as Yamato Province.While conventionally assigned to the period 250–710 , the actual start of Yamato rule is disputed...

. Iron items, such as tools, weapons, and decorative objects, are postulated to have entered Japan during this era or the late Yayoi period, most likely through contacts with the Korean Peninsula and China.

Africa


In Africa, where there was been no continent-wide universal Bronze Age, the use of iron succeeded immediately the use of stone. Metallurgy was characterized by the absence of a Bronze Age, and the transition from "stone to steel" in tool substances. Sub-Saharan Africa has produced very early instances of carbon steel found to be in production around 2000 years before present in northwest Tanzania, based on complex preheating principles. The Meroitic script
Meroitic script
The Meroitic script is an alphabetic script originally derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs, used to write the Meroitic language of the Kingdom of Meroë/Kush. It was developed in the Napatan Period , and first appears in the 2nd century BCE. For a time, it was also possibly used to write the Nubian...

 was developed in the Napatan Period
Napata
Napata was a city-state of ancient Nubia on the west bank of the Nile River, at the site of modern Karima, Northern Sudan.During the 8th to 7th centuries BC, Napata was the capital of the Nubian kingdom of Kush, whence the 25th, or Nubian Dynasty conquered Egypt...

 (c. 700–300 BC).

Africa Timeline


Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
Prehistoric (or Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age

Ancient Egypt


In the Black Pyramid of Abusir
Abusir
Abusir is the name given to an Egyptian archaeological locality – specifically, an extensive necropolis of the Old Kingdom period, together with later additions – in the vicinity of the modern capital Cairo...

, at least 3000 BC, Gaston Maspero
Gaston Maspero
Gaston Camille Charles Maspero was a French Egyptologist.-Life:Gaston Maspero was born in Paris to parents of Lombard origin. While at school he showed a special taste for history, and by the age of fourteen he was already interested in hieroglyphic writing...

 found some pieces of iron, and in the funeral text of Pepi I, the metal is mentioned. A sword bearing the name of pharaoh Merneptah
Merneptah
Merneptah was the fourth ruler of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt for almost ten years between late July or early August 1213 and May 2, 1203 BC, according to contemporary historical records...

 as well as a battle axe with an iron blade and gold-decorated bronze shaft were both found in the excavation of Ugarit.

Iron metal is singularly scarce in collections of Egyptian antiquities. Bronze remained the primary material there until the conquest by Assyria. The explanation of this would seem to lie in the fact that the relics are in most cases the paraphernalia of tombs, the funereal vessels and vases, and iron being considered an impure metal by the ancient Egyptians it was never used in their manufacture of these or for any religious purposes. It was attributed to Seth, the spirit of evil who according to Egyptian tradition governed the central deserts of Africa.

Sub-Saharan




Discoveries of very early copper and bronze working sites in Niger, however, can still support that iron working may have developed in that region and spread elsewhere. Iron metallurgy has been attested very early, the earliest instances of iron smelting in Termit, Niger
Niger
Niger , officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east...

 may date to as early as 1200 BC. It was once believed that iron and copper working in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 spread in conjunction with the Bantu expansion
Bantu expansion
The Bantu expansion or the Bantu Migration was a millennia-long series of migrations of speakers of the original proto-Bantu language group...

, from the Cameroon region to the African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes
The African Great Lakes are a series of lakes and the Rift Valley lakes in and around the geographic Great Rift Valley formed by the action of the tectonic East African Rift on the continent of Africa...

 in the 3rd century BC, reaching the Cape
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

 around AD 400.

Sub-Saharan Africa has produced very early instances of carbon steel found to be in production around 2000 years before present in northwest Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

, based on complex preheating principles. These discoveries, according to Schmidt and Avery (archaeologists credited with the discovery) are significant for the history of metallurgy.

At the end of the Iron Age, Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

 became a major manufacturer and exporter of iron. This was after being expelled from Egypt by Assyrians, who used iron weapons.

India Timeline


Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
Prehistoric (or Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age

Gallery

Iron Age Examples

See also


General:Fogou
Fogou
A fogou or fougou is an underground, dry-stone structure found on Iron Age or Romano-British defended settlement sites in Cornwall. Fogous have similarities with souterrains or earth-houses of northern Europe and particularly Scotland including the Orkney Islands...


Lists: List of archaeological periods, List of archaeological sites
Metallurgy: Blast furnace
Blast furnace
A blast furnace is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting to produce industrial metals, generally iron.In a blast furnace, fuel and ore and flux are continuously supplied through the top of the furnace, while air is blown into the bottom of the chamber, so that the chemical reactions...

, Roman metallurgy
Roman metallurgy
Metals and metal working had been known to the people of modern Italy since the Bronze Age. By 86 BC, Rome had already expanded to control an immense expanse of the Mediterranean...


Other: Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
The synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures gives a rough picture of the relationships between the various principal cultures of prehistory outside the Americas, Antarctica, Australia and Oceania...


Further reading

  • Waldbaum, Jane C. From Bronze to Iron. Göteburg: Paul Astöms Förlag (1978): 56-8

External links


General

Publications

News
  • Mass burial suggests massacre at Iron Age hill fort. Archaeologists have found evidence of a massacre linked to Iron Age warfare at a hill fort
    Fin Cop
    Fin Cop is a hill and associated Iron Age hill fort close to Ashford in the Water in Derbyshire, England.The fort shows evidence of hurried construction, indicating a defensive response to a real threat, rather than the more usual assumption that such forts were a display of status and...

    in Derbyshire. BBC. 17 April 2011