Bronze Age

Bronze Age

Bronze Age, period in the development of technology when metals were first used regularly in the manufacture of tools and weapons. Pure copper and bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, were used indiscriminately at first; this early period is sometimes called the Copper Age. The earliest use of cast metal can be deduced from clay models of weapons; casting was certainly established in the Middle East by 3500 BC Following the Neolithic period, the development of a metallurgical industry coincided with the rise of urbanization. The organized operations of mining, smelting, and casting undoubtedly required the specialization of labor and the production of surplus food to support a class of artisans, while the search for raw materials stimulated the exploration and colonization of new territories. This process culminated in the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Sumer. Later, the Minoan civilization and the Mycenaean civilization opened extensive trade routes in central Europe, where tin and copper were mined. This activity fostered native industries and political unification, especially in Hungary, Austria, and the Alpine region. It laid the foundations of the Iron Age civilization, which was to follow under Greek, Etruscan, and Scythian influences. In the New World the earliest bronze was cast in Bolivia c.AD 1100. The Inca civilization used bronze tools and weapons but never mastered iron.

See V. G. Childe, The Prehistory of European Society (1958, repr. 1962); J. W. Alsop, From the Silent Earth (1964); G. Clark, World Prehistory: An Outline (2d ed. 1969); A. H. Jones, Bronze Age Civilization (1975); B. Fell, Bronze-Age America (1982).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Bronze Age: Selected full-text books and articles

The Bronze Age By V. Gordon Childe Biblo and Tannen, 1930
Prehistory and the Beginnings of Civilization By Jacquetta Hawkes; Leonard Woolley Harper & Row, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "The Bronze Age: The Conditions of Civilization and the Grouping of Mankind" begins on p. 363, and "The Limits of Civilization in the Bronze Age and the Conditions of Civilized Life at the End of the Thirteenth Century BC" begins on p. 820
Thera in the Bronze Age By Phyllis Young Forsyth Peter Lang, 1997
Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History By Sarah B. Pomeroy; Stanley M. Burstein; Walter Donlan; Jennifer Tolbert Roberts Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Early Greece and the Bronze Age"
The Prehistoric Foundations of Europe to the Mycenean Age By C. F. C. Hawkes Methuen, 1940
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Seven "The Bronze Age and the European Achievement"
Prehistoric Britain By Jacquetta Hawkes; Christopher Hawkes Harvard University Press, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Three "The Early and Middle Bronze Ages" and Chap. Four "The Late Bronze Age"
Denmark before the Vikings By Glyn Daniel; Ole Klindt-Jensen Thames and Hudson, 1957
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "The Bronze Age"
The Horse and the Sword By Harold Peake; Herbert John Fleure Yale University Press, 1933
Digging Up Jericho: The Results of the Jericho Excavations, 1952-1956 By Kathleen M. Kenyon Praeger, 1957
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Seven "The Early Bronze Age: A Period of Urbanisation," Chap. Nine "Jericho in the Time of the Patriarchs," and Chap. Ten "The Tombs of Middle Bronze Age Jericho"
Out of the Desert? Archaeology and the Exodus/Conquest Narratives By William H. Stiebing Jr Prometheus Books, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "The End of the Late Bronze Age in the Eastern Mediterranean"
China before the Han Dynasty By William Watson Frederick A. Praeger, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "The Earlier Bronze Age: The Shang Dynasty," Chap. III "The Later Bronze Age: The Chou Dynasty," and Chap. IV "The Art of the Bronze Age"
Stone Tools and Society: Working Stone in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain By Mark Edmonds Batsford, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "The Place of Stone in Early Bronze Age Britain"
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