The Bronze Age: characteristics and evolution of metals

The Bronze Age: characteristics and evolution of metals

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Continuing with the Ages of Prehistory, we should mention that the birth of civilization and the development of advanced cultures both in Europe, the Middle East and the East Asian region, took place at the time of the Bronze Age.

This period of time is part of the archaeological system of prehistory created in 1820 by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen, taking as reference three prehistoric technological revolutions. Thus, before the Bronze Age is the Stone age, and after her began the Iron Age.

The Bronze Age

The Bronze Age It was a period of time that spans from the 6th millennium BC, when there are references to copper smelting; and ends according to the entry in the History of each region, entering, for example, in the 1st millennium BC. in Europe, while in Egypt and Mesopotamia it does so when writing is developed.

This entire era was characterized by the use of metals as the main hard materials in the manufacture of implements and weapons. This period managed to end with many new advances made in the field of metallurgy, and for this reason it is also called “Age of metals”.

The archaeological evidence from the Bronze Age lets us know that cultures located in Egypt, the Near East and the Mediterranean they already had viable writing systems. In Egypt there were hieroglyphs, in the Near East there was already the cuneiform, and in the Mediterranean we would find Linear B.

Cultures in the ancient Near East took it upon themselves to practice agriculture intensively throughout the year, they invented the potter's wheel and a centralized government with codes of laws. Not only that, but the concepts of social stratification, slavery and organized warfare.

The advances that took place at the social level in these spaces during that time served as a way of laying the foundations so that later all the extensive study of astronomy and mathematics could take place.

The development of metallurgy in the Bronze Age

Something very important that the Bronze Age was the evolution of the study of metallurgical processes, resulting in the discovery of the bronze alloy. Some metals, especially if we talk about copper under specific conditions, lead and tin, can be recovered from their respective minerals by heating the rocks in the smelting process. Between the 5th and 6th millennia BC, the first evidences of this type of extractive metallurgy were recorded in different deposits in present-day Serbia.

Upon discovering that the combination of copper and tin creates bronze, which is far superior in properties, the Bronze Age, making tools, weapons, and building materials much more durable than stone and copper predecessors.

The alloy with tin did not emerge until approximately 3,500 BC, because before this the so-called “arsenic bronze” made up of copper and arsenic was used, and they were mixed naturally or artificially.

However, tin bronze prevailed over arsenic bronze not only because the alloy was noticeably stronger and easier to cast, but also because the alloying process could have been more easily controlled.

Although bronze was originally used for the production of weapons, workers of this metal quickly began to apply the alloy to produce art in a way that had not been seen before, especially when we consider the method of production of hollow sculptures to through the lost wax process.

Art in the Bronze Age

There are certain works of art that stand out in the Bronze Age. One of them is "The Dancer", dating from approximately 2,500 BC, found from Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley.

This is probably the first bronze statue in the world, being named after the position in which it is located, giving the impression of being dancing.

The girl shown in this sculpture is nude, shows bracelets and a necklace, and is in a naturalistic position with her right hand on her hip, while holding an object in her left hand, which rests against her thigh.

Culture in the Bronze Age

The culture of the Bronze Age It is distinguished from the culture of the other archaeological ages by its characteristic metallic objects, which include flat shafts, triangular daggers, winding rings, paddles, disc pins, and bracelets with spiral ends.

All these pieces are distributed in a wide area of ​​Central Europe.

The call "Nebra Sky Disk”, From 1,600 BC. approximately, it is another quite characteristic object of the Bronze Age. It consists of a disc with a blue-green patina with golden symbols that have generally been interpreted as a sun or a full moon, as well as a starry sky and a cluster that has been interpreted as the Pleiades.

This disk may have been used as an astronomical instrument, and it is likely that it was an item of great religious importance.

Image tools: Stanislav Khokholkov on Shutterstock

Video: Prehistoric copper smelting in a pit!