Bronze age

The Bronze Age is a period in the history of mankind , in which metal objects predominantly of bronze were produced. This period includes in Central Europe about the period from 2200 to 800 BC The Bronze Age is the middle level of the by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen developed three periodic table , the European Prehistory and Early History in the Stone Age , the Bronze Age and the Iron Age is divided. The tripartite division is according to the material used (possibly locally interrupted by short periods copper) largely on Europe , West Asia and North Africa to restrict.


The “invention” of the bronze in the 3rd Millennium BC a. The roots of the Bronze Age are in the preceding Neolithic period , in which people in their younger periods partially were already familiar with metalworking. They were limited but tasteful (purely occurring) metals such as gold, silver and copper . In the transition period to the Bronze Age is also regionally by the Copper Age or Chalcolithic spoken. Bronze is an alloy consisting of 90% copper and 10% tin , and much harder than copper.

Historically research requires the discovery and exploration of the Bronze Age took place mainly in Europe and Asia. Delineation, concept formation on individual crops, terminology and detailed studies in this area have accordingly also its focus. This effect can be found by analogy with the Stone Age research history.

Common to the Bronze Age cultures, the need to organize a “metallurgy chain” led to serious changes in the social structure. Access to and control of resources (metals, metallurgy, communications and trade routes) led to the formation of an upper class (particularly impressive with the Minoan Palace of Culture) and thus probably to a social differentiation with hereditary leadership positions. [1] It is the bronze for the first time possible to accumulate wealth, which was also easy to transport. Bronze ingots are used as means of payment. The formation of heavily fortified settlements, and the invention of the sword are often interpreted as an indication of increase in warlike or predatory confrontations.

The unequal distribution of metal deposits, in particular for the production of the required very rare tin, led to a “global” trading network, which in addition to the common goods and cultural ideas. The discovery of a Late Bronze Age trading vessel ( ship Uluburun ) impressively demonstrates the variety of goods that were traded over long distances.

Regional characteristics of the Bronze Age
Cuneiform tablet 2041/2040 BC

Southwest Asia is the starting point of European bronze technology. From there, the new material and also has the necessary know-how exported. In Palestine, the bronze production has already been demonstrated for 3300 BC, in Egypt around 2700 BC, in Central Europe around 2200 BC, and in northern Europe around 1800 BC The Bronze Age is thus represents a space-time spreading development process is, which entails a variety of archaeological cultures and non-dependent subdivisions. In general, we divide them into early, middle and late Bronze Age or Older, follow their absolute dating the general diffusion process.

In contrast to the Near Eastern European Bronze Age cultures developed already first writings. Examples are the hieroglyphics in Egypt, the cuneiform script in the Middle East and the Linear B of the Mycenaean civilization . The archaeological record can thus be supplemented with written sources for the first time, corrected and evaluated. [2]
Europe and Middle East

Like in Egypt had in Mesopotamia already high culture – developed with agriculture, writing, urban and organized political system, able to get here before the widespread copper bronze was added the new material – since about 3500 BC. The tin was probably necessary for the production from the neighboring regions in western Iran and Uzbekistan introduced. The use of bronze sat down until the second millennium BC by a broader audience. Throughout the Near East Bronze was then replaced at the latest around 1000 BC final with iron as more suitable material.
Ithyphallic sculpture of the Naqada culture, ivory, Amratian , 4 Millennium BC, height 24 cm, Louvre

The term Bronze Age, is due. Through the many written sources and the resulting preferred order of history by historical periods and dynasties, rarely used for division of Egyptian history Copper is starting about 4000 BC in the Badarian culture occupied with this from the beginning, always a certain proportion of arsenic was added. The next millennium will be in Upper Egypt from Naqada culture and in Lower Egypt of the Maadi culture dominates. Both cultures belong to the Chalcolithic period. The Bronze Age begins shortly after the beginning of the emergence of the Egyptian state, shortly before 2700 BC The first real bronze (copper and tin 7-9%) was found in vessels from the grave of King Khasekhemwy . One can the Old Kingdom (about 3000-2200 BC) and Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom (about 2000-1650 BC) and Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC v.) as Late Bronze Age designate. Only in the Middle Kingdom, it is bronze before really often, while previously copper or copper alloys dominate other than bronze. Due to the scarcity of raw materials in Egypt almost all bronze items were imported. Stone tools found throughout the period continued use.
South Arabia

The history of South Arabia is still in its infancy little. Until about 3200 BC seems to have a nomadic lifestyle to have prevailed. Then dive to permanent settlements, ceramics and agriculture. One can distinguish between different local cultures, whose inhabitants in settlements, some of which were several acres lived. The timing of the introduction of bronze is controversial, copper and copper alloy shall be attested from around 2500 BC with safety. It is believed that the metal technology was introduced from Palestine. The Iron Age began here in the first millennium BC, about the rise of a high culture.

The Bronze Age Palestine begins around 3300 BC You went a Chalcolithic period ahead with a high technical standard of metalworking (see Nahal Mishmar ). The Bronze Age Palestine is through the emergence of city-states in. Palestine lies between the former civilizations of Egypt , Syria and Mesopotamia and was greatly influenced as a transit country by this.

With the Early Bronze Age (about 3300-2000 BC), many villages were abandoned, and new settlements were built, which were already quite urban in character. Many of them were heavily fortified, suggesting warlike times. The pottery had already reached a high technical standard, the ceramics was partially painted. Few metal objects have survived from this period, but they show good knowledge alloy, although the copper still added no tin and thus not a real bronze was produced. The dead were buried in rock-cut direct mass grave plants. The country was well-organized in city-states. There were plenty of evidence for extensive trade, although this with the neighbors Egypt early subsided, as the Egyptians dealt Palestine by sea, according to Byblos to reach and Syria. From 2400 to 2000 BC, there are hardly any archaeological remains from Palestine.

From 2000 BC began the Middle Bronze Age, which may be described as the golden age. At the beginning of this period the population was nomadic . From 1800 BC emerged again numerous city facilities. Trade with Egypt flourished. From Jericho are many well-preserved tombs of this time in which have above all wooden objects, such as furniture and bowls found. Gold jewelry comes from other places. Discoveries of bronze weapons show that now genuine bronze was produced.

From 1550 BC, Palestine was conquered by Egypt, which signifies the beginning of the Late Bronze Age in Palestine. The city-states continued to exist, and with the advent of writing, the region now entered fully into the light of history.

The Bronze Age on Cyprus , which consists of a period of the Chalcolithic period was (roughly from 3900 BC) began around 2600 BC Cyprus is rich in copper deposits and had a special significance in international trade. Whether the word “copper” was named after the island, with its rich deposits or vice versa, is unclear. The beginning of the Early Bronze Age seems to have taken on the island of significant political change. Locations are primarily in the north of the island, and there were perhaps immigration from Anatolia. There were a few settlement finds. This period is known mainly from graves.

With the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (about 1900-1650 BC) are records of many contacts with other Mediterranean cultures. Cyprus (as Alaschia ) in cuneiform texts known. The end of the period is marked warlike. Weapon finds are common, and settlements were heavily fortified. This seems to be accompanied by political unrest in Syria and Asia Minor. Trade with Egypt and Palestine was too strong. Cyprus was now exporter of copper and small bottles that have contained any luxury albums. With the Late Bronze Age (about 1650-1050 BC) developed cities and a font. Cyprus was so into the story.
Spätkykladisches fresco of antelope from Akrotiri
Greek early

In the third millennium BC, several settlements developed on Crete to central locations of craft and trade. With the Minoan civilization created the first advanced civilization in Europe. An economically dominant elite emerged, which over the years monarchical regimes adopted. A good example is the Minoan palace culture, which soon carried over to the Greek mainland. Here begins the Bronze Age with the Helladic period , on the island of the Cyclades in the southern Aegean Sea with the Cycladic civilization . The broadcast of the Minoan palace culture led to the Greek mainland to the formation of centers of power, in particular, to the manor at Mycenae. The shaft graves dynasty coined as Mycenaean culture , the Late Bronze Age Greece.

In the western part of Asia Minor, the Early Bronze Age phase of Troy I assigned, around 2800 BC
Central and Northern European Bronze Age

See also Bronze Age (Central Europe) , Nordic Bronze Age
The current drawn by a horse chariot of Trundholm , represents an important part of the mythology of the Nordic Bronze Age

It was late in reaching the middle of the Bronze Age (about 2200 BC) and the north of Europe. For the Central European Bronze Age trade contacts to Northern Europe (Bernstein) and are in the Aegean area detected. As testimony to the brisk trade contacts including the rock paintings of valid Carschenna one Wegheiligtums on a mule track over the Alps . The Bronze Age is based on the different forms of burial primarily as Bronze Age barrows and Urnfield called. The most important find of the Early Bronze Age in Europe is the Sky Disc of Nebra . As exquisite works of art of this period considered the gold hats .

As the Nordic Bronze Age (about 1800 BC) called Bronze Age in Northern Europe and Scandinavia continued according to the spread of the bronze time delayed. Copper and tin had to be imported absence of its own deposits. Bernstein served as a desirable export and thus became the “Gold of the North”. The metal parts of the Nordic circle among the finest products obtained in the Bronze Age. As the bronze jewelry was even longer.

Central Asia

About 2200 to 1700 BC, can be found in today’s Turkmenistan and Afghanistan , the Oxus or cultural oasis in the desert Karakum . It also called by its discoverer BMAC (Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex) after the ancient name field had already demonstrates a high level of pottery and metal working. Monumental buildings were built, fields are irrigated. Even earlier than in China (from about 2300 BC) seems to have been developed a font. The reason for the downfall of the Oxus culture is still unclear.
South and East Asia

In India , the result Indus civilization or Indus civilization, sometimes after Harappa , one of the main archeological sites on Ravi (Punjab, Pakistan), or Harappan Harappan called. She was an ancient civilization which has developed around the years 2800 BC to 1800 BC along the Indus River in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. In China in the Early Bronze Age followed Xia Dynasty (about 2200 BC-1800 BC), Shang Dynasty (about 1570-1066 BC, also called Yin). From this period are the first findings of written sources in China and bronze will be processed. Over the Shang Dynasty are found then already the first objects made of iron.
Sub-Saharan Africa

In West Africa, there is not a Bronze Age, there seems a direct transition from the Neolithic to the Iron Age have taken place. Thus found themselves in the same layers of polished stone axes besides just such iron. Here, the new technology was probably the one hand via trans-Saharan routes from the Maghreb to the other from Egypt through Nubia .

In Australia and Oceania developed to colonization by Europeans no metalworking culture.
Mochica ceramics

The most common in Europe and adjacent areas after the division of history material is used primarily for the Americas is not common. Still, you can assign some pre-Columbian cultures a kind of “Bronze Age”. Was able to Chimú culture (around 1270 to 1470) the bronze production demonstrated by findings before the Inca Empire aufgingen. Their predecessors culture Mochica or Moche (1st-7th century), processed copper and a gold-copper alloy called Tumbago . The Mississippian culture (about 900-1600) is an early Chalcolithic be assigned. Known American civilizations such as the Maya , Toltecs and Aztecs never reached a wider degree of utilitarian metal except for cult equipment, but these were usually made ​​of more or less pure precious metals. Tools were however made predominantly from organic material and / or rock.

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