We explain what the Bronze Age is, what its characteristics and stages are. Also, the first civilizations, the end of the period, and more.
What is the Bronze Age?
The Bronze Age corresponds to the second of the three stages of the Metal Age, and it was a period of prehistory that ran from 3000 to 1200 BC. C. arose with the discovery of the fusion of tin with copper resulting in bronze a metal more resistant than known before.
Different human populations began in the Bronze Age at different times. While in some cultures there were advances around the discovery of metal alloys, in other parts of the world human beings did not work with metals but developed the first cuneiform writing systems, a fact that gave rise to the history of mankind.
The Bronze Age was the stage of the most significant advances in the transition from prehistory to the history of mankind, with the discovery of the smelting of metals and the emergence of states or kingdoms with large-scale societies.
Bronze Age Features
The Bronze Age was characterized by:
- The discovery of the foundry of metals.
- The formation of societies with a high population density .
- The emergence of a kingdom or government that centralizes power.
- The first complex social organization with class differentiation, with the people and the ruling class.
- The increase in military confrontations, with sophisticated weapons.
Early Bronze Age civilizations
Among the first civilizations of the Bronze Age, the following stand out:
- They stood out for inhabiting the territory of ancient Mesopotamia, which is considered the cradle of civilization due to the advances made, such as the formation of city-states and agricultural expansion due to the creation of dams and irrigation canals. In addition, they developed extensive knowledge of astronomy and mathematics and built stepped pyramids called ziggurats, such as that of Ur that worshiped the god Nanna or Moon.
- They stood out for reaching their maximum splendor towards the end of the Bronze Age, around 1900 BC. C. They managed to dominate Mesopotamia through the use of force and diplomacy. King Hammurabi, who created a set of laws that is the oldest ever found, stood out. It was called the Code of Hammurabi and consisted of the law of retaliation, that is, that the punishment imposed is reciprocal to the crime committed and on the principle of innocence until there is evidence to prove otherwise. The city of Babylon, southeast of Mesopotamia, was more powerful than the Sumerian city of Ur.
- They stood out for reaching a great urban development in the northern region of Mesopotamia, from 1300 BC. C. However, the cities were abandoned after the invasions of the Arameans who were nomads and they organized with other Semitic groups and dedicated themselves to occupying a large number of cities. The Arameans managed to settle in the northern region of Mesopotamia and part of Egypt, a territory called the Fertile Crescent.
- The Bronze Age in China developed from 1700 BC. C. and lasted for several dynasties for 1500 years. It was characterized by the work in the metallurgical industry of the bronze that prevailed, even, many years after the discovery of iron.
- The pre-Hellenic civilizations consisted of a group of cultures prior to the Greek civilization, which developed from 3000 BC. Until 1200 a. C . and that took place during the transition between prehistory and the beginning of ancient history. For example, the Cycladic civilization that was favored by the strategic geographical position of the archipelago in the Aegean Sea that connected Europe and Asia, the Minoan civilization that settled on the island of Crete, and the Mycenaean civilization that settled in the Peloponnese, the southern peninsula of the current territory of Greece, and then it reached to occupy the island of Crete and the north of the Mediterranean Sea.
Stages of the Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is the second of the three stages of the Metal Age.
The Bronze Age was divided into three main stages due to the diversity of significant advancements that prevailed. The stages are:
- Ancient Bronze Age (3000 - 2000 BC). It was characterized by primitive populations that were dedicated to hunting and fishing. Agricultural activities increased due to the use of tools made from bronze and the metal trade developed. The oldest flat axes were found.
- Middle Bronze Age (2000 - 1600 BC). It was characterized by agricultural-livestock activities, the domestication of the horse used for forced labor, and commerce was intensified by the exchange of food and metal objects considered a luxury. Evidence of numerous weapons of war was found, clashes that grew as the large cities developed.
- Late Bronze Age (1600 - 1200 BC). It was characterized by the most complex social structure, with minority groups that concentrated power and division into social strata. The warlike confrontations were larger and more intense, so sophisticated weapons and protection elements were found, such as shields and armor for the body. It was the transition period towards the Iron Age due to a great cultural transformation, with the creation of writing systems, tombs as a symbol of power, the differentiation of social status, and the construction of settlements in elevated areas protected by walls.
End of the Bronze Age
The Bronze Age period ended abruptly around 1200 BC. C. and it is not yet known what it was due to. Major civilizations, such as Mycenaean Greece, Ancient Egypt, the Hittite empire of Turkey, and the peoples that inhabited the Middle East, North Africa, and Mediterranean Europe, fell in a limited period of time.
It is estimated that the end of the Bronze Age was due to various natural catastrophes, such as major droughts and earthquakes that caused, among various consequences, hunger and chaos in societies.
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