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The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the
prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, ...
and
protohistory Protohistory is a period between prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the invention of writing systems. The u ...
of
humanity Humanity most commonly refers to: * Human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language a ...

humanity
. It was preceded by the
Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology ...

Stone Age
(
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek wikt:παλαιός, palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of ...
,
Mesolithic The Mesolithic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

Mesolithic
,
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
, and
Chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic
) and the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
. The concept has been mostly applied to
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...
and the
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
, but also, by analogy, to other parts of the
Old World The Old World consists of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of 's total su ...
. The duration of the Iron Age varies depending on the region under consideration. It is defined by archaeological convention. The "Iron Age" begins locally when the production of iron or
steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appe ...

steel
has advanced to the point where iron tools and weapons replace their
bronze Bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appear ...

bronze
equivalents in common use. In the
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
, this transition took place in the wake of the so-called
Bronze Age collapse The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition period in a large area covering much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly ac ...
, in the 12th century BC. The technology soon spread throughout the
Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ...
region and to
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri La ...

South Asia
. Its further spread to
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
,
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical reg ...

Eastern Europe
, and
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

Central Europe
is somewhat delayed, and
Northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern region of Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other geographic ...
was not reached until later, by about 500 BC. The Iron Age is taken to end, also by convention, with the beginning of the
historiographical record Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studies and writes about the ...
. This usually does not represent a clear break in the archaeological record; for the Ancient Near East, the establishment of the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
c. 550 BC is traditionally and still usually taken as a cut-off date, later dates being considered historical by virtue of the record by
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ge ...
, despite considerable written records from far earlier (well back into the Bronze Age) now being known. In Central and Western Europe, the
Roman conquests
Roman conquests
of the 1st century BC serve as marking for the end of the Iron Age. The
Germanic Iron Age The archaeology of Northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographical and cultural region in Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, whi ...
of Scandinavia is taken to end c. AD 800, with the beginning of the
Viking Age The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation o ...
. In the Indian sub-continent, the Iron Age is taken to begin with the ironworking
Painted Gray Ware The Painted Grey Ware culture (PGW) is an Iron Age India In the prehistory of the Indian subcontinent, an "Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapien ...
culture. Recent estimates suggest that it ranges from the 15th century BC, through to the reign of
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
in the 3rd century BC. The use of the term "Iron Age" in the archaeology of South, East, and Southeast Asia is more recent and less common than for western Eurasia. In China, written history started before iron-working arrived, so the term is infrequently used. The
Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it stretches across the south-central latitudes of between the Atlantic Ocean and the . The Sahel part o ...

Sahel
(
Sudan region Sudan is the geographic region to the south of the Sahara The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the African continent. With an area of , it is the largest hot desert in the world and the ...
) and
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
are outside of the three-age system, there being no Bronze Age, but the term "Iron Age" is sometimes used in reference to early cultures practicing ironworking, such as the
Nok culture The Nok culture (or Nok civilization) is a population whose material remains are named after the Ham Ham is pork Pork is the culinary name for the meat of a domestic pig The domestic pig (''Sus scrofa domesticus'' or only ''Sus ...
of Nigeria.


History of the concept

The three-age system was introduced in the first half of the 19th century for the archaeology of Europe in particular, and by the later 19th century expanded to the archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Its name harks back to the mythological "
Ages of Man The Ages of Man are the stages of human existence on the Earth according to Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories conce ...
" of
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'', 'he who emits the voice') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is generally regarded as the first written ...
. As an archaeological era, it was first introduced for Scandinavia by
Christian Jürgensen Thomsen Christian Jürgensen Thomsen (29 December 1788 – 21 May 1865) was a Danish antiquarian 's cabinet of curiosities, from ''Museum Wormianum,'' 1655 An antiquarian or antiquary (from the Latin: ''antiquarius'', meaning pertaining to ancient tim ...

Christian Jürgensen Thomsen
in the 1830s. By the 1860s, it was embraced as a useful division of the "earliest history of mankind" in general and began to be applied in
Assyriology Assyriology (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''Assyriā''; and , ''-logy, -logia'') is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of Assyria and the rest of ancient Mesopotamia (a region that encompassed what is now modern Iraq, northeaster ...
. The development of the now-conventional
periodization Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Institute for the Study of the Ancient Wo ...
in the archaeology of the Ancient Near East was developed in the 1920s to 1930s. As its name suggests, Iron Age technology is characterized by the production of tools and weaponry by
ferrous metallurgy Ferrous metallurgy, the metallurgy of iron and its alloys, began in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 4th millennium BC in Egypt, were made from meteorite, meteoritic Iron–nickel alloy, iron-nickel. It is not known when ...
(
ironworking Ferrous metallurgy is the metallurgy of iron and alloys. It began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 4th millennium BC in Egypt, were made from meteorite, meteoritic Iron–nickel alloy, iron-nickel. It is not kn ...
), more specifically from
carbon steel Carbon steel is a steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fract ...
.


Chronology

Increasingly the Iron Age in Europe is being seen as a part of the
Bronze Age collapse The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition period in a large area covering much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly ac ...
in the
ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
, in
ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans Early modern human (EMH) or anatomically modern human (AMH) are terms used to distinguish ''Homo sapiens'' (the only extant Hominina species) that are anatomically con ...
(with the post-
Rigvedic The ''Rigveda'' or ''Rig Veda'' ( ', from ' "praise" and ' "knowledge") is an ancient Indian miscellany, collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns (''suktas''). It is one of the four sacred canonical Hindu texts (''śruti'') known as the Vedas. T ...
Vedic civilization),
ancient Iran The history of Iran, which was commonly known until the mid-20th century as Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia Anato ...
, and
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
(with the
Greek Dark Ages The Greek Dark Ages is the period of Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country locate ...
). In other regions of
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
the Iron Age began in the 8th century BC in
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...
and the 6th century BC in
Northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern region of Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other geographic ...
. 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 The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
. There is no definitive cultural break between the 13th and 12th centuries BC throughout the entire region, although certain new features in the hill country, Transjordan and coastal region may suggest the appearance of the
Aramaean The Arameans ( Old Aramaic: 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; Greek: Ἀραμαῖοι; Syriac: ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ / Ārāmāyē) were an ancient Semitic-speaking people in the Near East The Near East ( Arabic: شرق أدنى, Hebrew: המזרח הקרוב, ...
and
Sea People The Sea Peoples are a purported seafaring confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a ...
groups. There is evidence, however, of strong continuity with Bronze Age culture, although as one moves later into Iron Age the culture begins to diverge more significantly from that of the late 2nd millennium. The Iron Age as an archaeological period is roughly defined as that part of the prehistory of a culture or region during which
ferrous metallurgy Ferrous metallurgy, the metallurgy of iron and its alloys, began in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 4th millennium BC in Egypt, were made from meteorite, meteoritic Iron–nickel alloy, iron-nickel. It is not known when ...
was the dominant technology of metalworking. The characteristic of an Iron Age culture is the mass production of tools and weapons made from
steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appe ...

steel
, typically alloys with a
carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three occur naturally, ...

carbon
content between approximately 0.30% and 1.2% by weight. Only with the capability of the production of carbon steel does ferrous metallurgy result in tools or weapons that are equal or superior to
bronze Bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appear ...

bronze
. The use of steel has been based as much on economics as on metallurgical advancements. Early steel was made by smelting iron. By convention, the Iron Age in the
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
is taken to last from c. 1200 BC (the
Bronze Age collapse The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition period in a large area covering much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly ac ...
) to c. 550 BC (or
539 BC The year 539 BC was a year of the Roman calendar, pre-Julian Roman calendar. In the Roman Empire, it was known as year 215 '' Ab urbe condita''. The denomination 539 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Do ...
), roughly the beginning of
historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians hav ...

historiography
with
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ge ...
; the end of the proto-historical period. In Central and Western Europe, the Iron Age is taken to last from c. 800 BC to c. 1 BC, in Northern Europe from c. 500 BC to AD 800. In
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
, there is no recognizable prehistoric period characterized by ironworking, as
Bronze Age China The Bronze Age is a prehistoric period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical composition * Period, ...
transitions almost directly into the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, during the mid-19th ...

Qin dynasty
of imperial China; "Iron Age" in the context of China is sometimes used for the transitional period of c. 900 BC to 100 BC during which ferrous metallurgy was present even if not dominant. ImageSize = width:800 height:200 PlotArea = width:700 height:160 left:100 bottom:20 AlignBars = justify Colors = id:time value:rgb(0.7,0.7,1) # id:period value:rgb(1,0.7,0.5) # id:age value:rgb(0.95,0.85,0.5) # id:era value:rgb(1,0.85,0.5) # id:eon value:rgb(1,0.12,1) # id:iron value:rgb(1,0.4,0.4) # id:filler value:gray(0.8) # background bar id:black value:black Period = from:-1401 till:1400 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:500 start:-1200 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:100 start:-1200 PlotData = align:center textcolor:black fontsize:8 mark:(line,black) width:15 shift:(0,-5) bar:Ancient Near East color:iron from: -1200 till: -1000 text:IA1 from: -1000 till: -550 text:IA2 from:-550 till:-550 shift:(40,-4) text:
Achaemenids The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offic ...

Achaemenids
bar:Aegean color:iron from: -1100 till: -800 text:
Greek Dark Ages The Greek Dark Ages is the period of Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country locate ...
from: -800 till: -480 text: Archaic period from:-480 till:-480 shift:(45,-4) text:
Classical Greece Classical Greece was a period of around 200 years (the 5th and 4th centuries BC) in Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dar ...
bar:Central Europe color:iron from: -800 till: -450 text:
Hallstatt Hallstatt ( , , ) is a small town in the district of Gmunden, in the Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Al ...

Hallstatt
from: -450 till: 0 text: La Tène from: 0 till: 0 shift:(45,-4) text:
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
bar:Egypt color:iron from: -1070 till: -664 text:
Third Intermediate Period The Third Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a of , concentrated along the lower reaches of the , situated in the place that is now the country . Ancient Egyptian civilization followed and coalesced around 3100 ...
from:-664 till:-664 shift:(40,-4) text: Late Period bar:Italy color:iron from: -900 till: -700 text:
Villanovan The Villanovan culture (c. 900–700 BC), regarded as the earliest phase of the Etruscan civilization The Etruscan civilization () of List of ancient peoples of Italy, ancient Italy covered a territory, at its greatest extent, of roughly what i ...
from: -700 till: -265 text:
Etruscan__NOTOC__ Etruscan may refer to: Ancient civilisation *The Etruscan language, an extinct language in ancient Italy *Something derived from or related to the Etruscan civilization **Etruscan architecture **Etruscan art **Etruscan cities **Etruscan ...
from:-265 till:-265 shift:(45,-4) text:
Roman Italy (the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...

Roman Italy
bar:Northern Europe color:iron from: -500 till: 0 text: Pre-Roman from: 0 till: 400 text:
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...
from: 400 till: 790 text:
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...
from:790 till:790 shift:(40,-4) text:
Viking Age The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation o ...
bar:South Asia color:iron from: -1200 till: -650 text: PGW from: -650 till: -200 text: NBPW from: -200 till: -200 shift:(45,-4) text:
Maurya Empire The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age list of ancient great powers, historical power in South Asia based in Magadha, founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE, and existing in loose-knit fashion until 185 BCE. Quote: "Ma ...


Early ferrous metallurgy

The earliest-known iron artifacts are nine small beads dated to 3200 BC, which were found in burials at
Gerzeh The Gerzeh culture, also called Naqada II, refers to the archaeological stage at Gerzeh (also Girza or Jirzah), a prehistoric Egyptian cemetery located along the west bank of the Nile. The necropolis is named after el-Girzeh, the nearby contempor ...
,
Lower Egypt , the Red Crown of Lower Egypt Image:Lower Egypt Nomes 01.png, 350px, Map of Lower Egypt with its historical nomes Lower Egypt ( ar, مصر السفلى '; ''Tsakhet'') is the northernmost region In geography, regions are areas that are ...
. They have been identified as
meteoric iron Meteoric iron, sometimes meteoritic iron, is a native metal A native metal is any metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractu ...
shaped by careful hammering. Meteoric iron, a characteristic 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 is a process of applying heat to ore ore – psilomelane (size: 6.7 × 5.8 × 5.1 cm) ore – galena and anglesite (size: 4.8 × 4.0 × 3.0 cm) ore (size: 7.5 × 6.1 × 4.1 cm) File:OreCartPachuca.JPG, upMinecart on ...
of ores. Smelted iron appears sporadically in the archeological record from the middle
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
. Whilst terrestrial
iron Iron () is a with Fe (from la, ) and 26. It is a that belongs to the and of the . It is, on , right in front of (32.1% and 30.1%, respectively), forming much of Earth's and . It is the fourth most common . In its metallic state, iron ...

iron
is naturally abundant, its high melting point of placed it out of reach of common use until the end of the second millennium BC. Tin's low melting point of and copper's relatively moderate melting point of placed them within the capabilities of the Neolithic
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with and other materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include , and . The place where such wares are mad ...

pottery
kiln , Wrecclesham Wrecclesham is a village on the southern outskirts of the large town of Farnham Farnham is a market town in Surrey, England, within the Borough of Waverley Borough Council, Waverley.OS Explorer map 145:Guildford and Farnham ...

kiln
s, which date back to 6000 BC and were able to produce temperatures greater than .James E. McClellan III; Harold Dorn (2006).
Science and Technology in World History: An Introduction
'. JHU Press. . p. 21.
In addition to specially designed furnaces,
ancient iron production Ancient iron production refers to iron working in times from prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the invent ...
needed to develop complex procedures for the removal of impurities, the regulation of the admixture of carbon, and for hot-working to achieve a useful balance of hardness and strength in
steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appe ...

steel
. The earliest tentative evidence for iron-making is a small number of iron fragments with the appropriate amounts of carbon admixture found in the Proto-Hittite layers at Kaman-Kalehöyük and dated to 2200–2000  BC. Akanuma (2008) concludes that "The combination of carbon dating, archaeological context, and archaeometallurgical examination indicates that it is likely that the use of ironware made of steel had already begun in the third millennium BC in Central Anatolia". Souckova-Siegolová (2001) shows that iron implements were made in Central Anatolia in very limited quantities around 1800 BC and were in general use by elites, though not by commoners, during the New Hittite Empire (∼1400–1200 BC). Similarly, recent archaeological remains of iron-working in the
Ganges The Ganges ( ) (in India: Ganga ( ); in Bangladesh: Padma River, Padma ( )). "The Ganges Basin, known in India as the Ganga and in Bangladesh as the Padma, is an international river to which India, Bangladesh, Nepal and China are the riparian ...

Ganges
Valley in India have been tentatively dated to 1800  BC. Tewari (2003) concludes that "knowledge of iron smelting and manufacturing of iron artifacts was well known in the Eastern Vindhyas and iron had been in use in the Central Ganga Plain, at least from the early second millennium BC". By the
Middle Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
increasing numbers of smelted iron objects (distinguishable from meteoric iron by the lack of
nickel Nickel is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same nu ...

nickel
in the product) appeared in the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
,
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
and
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri La ...

South Asia
. African sites are turning up dates as early as 2000-1200 BC.Duncan E. Miller and N.J. Van Der Merwe, 'Early Metal Working in Sub Saharan Africa' ''Journal of African History'' 35 (1994) 1–36; Minze Stuiver and N.J. Van Der Merwe, 'Radiocarbon Chronology of the Iron Age in Sub-Saharan Africa' ''Current Anthropology'' 1968. Modern archaeological evidence identifies the start of large-scale iron production in around 1200  BC, marking the end of the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
. Between 1200 BC and 1000 BC diffusion in the understanding of iron metallurgy and the use of iron objects was fast and far-flung.
Anthony Snodgrass Anthony McElrea Snodgrass FBA (born 7 July 1934) is an academic An academy ( Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary or tertiary higher learning, research, or honorary membership. Acade ...
suggests that a shortage of tin, as a part of the
Bronze Age Collapse The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition period in a large area covering much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly ac ...
and trade disruptions in the Mediterranean around 1300  BC, forced
metalworkers Metalworking is the process of shaping and reshaping metals to create useful objects, parts, assemblies, and large scale structures. As a term it covers a wide and diverse range of processes, skills, and tools for producing objects on every scale: ...
to seek an alternative to bronze. As evidence, many bronze implements were recycled into weapons during that time. More widespread use of iron led to improved steel-making technology at a lower cost. Thus, even when tin became available again, iron was cheaper, stronger and lighter, and forged iron implements superseded cast bronze tools permanently.


Ancient Near East

The Iron Age in the
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
is believed to have begun with the discovery of iron smelting and smithing techniques in
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
or the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the contin ...
and
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
in the late
2nd millennium BC The 2nd millennium BC spanned the years 2000 through 1001 BC. In the Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban de ...
( 1300  BC). The earliest
bloomery A bloomery is a type of furnace A furnace, referred to as a heater or boiler in British English, is a heating unit used to heat up an entire building. Furnaces are mostly used as a major component of a central heating system. The name de ...
smelting of iron is found at
Tell Hammeh Tell Hammeh ( ar, تل حمة) is a relatively small Tell (archaeology), tell in the central Jordan Valley (Middle East), Jordan Valley, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, located where the Zarqa River valley opens into the Jordan Valley. It is the site ...
, Jordan around 930 BC (C14 dating, 14C dating). The Early Iron Age in the Caucasus area is conventionally divided into two periods, Early Iron I, dated to around 1100 BC, and the Early Iron II phase from the tenth to ninth centuries BC. Many of the material culture traditions of the Late Bronze Age continued into the Early Iron Age. Thus, there's a sociocultural continuity during this transitional period. In Iran, the earliest actual iron artifacts were unknown until the 9th century BC. For Iran, the best studied archaeological site during this time period is Teppe Hasanlu.


West Asia

In the Mesopotamian states of Sumer, Akkadian Empire, Akkad and Assyria, the initial use of iron reaches far back, to perhaps 3000 BC.Chisholm, H. (1910). The Encyclopædia Britannica. New York: The Encyclopædia Britannica Co. One of the earliest smelted iron artifacts known was a dagger with an iron blade found in a Hattians, Hattic tomb in
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
, dating from 2500 BC. The widespread use of iron weapons which replaced bronze weapons rapidly disseminated throughout the Near East (North Africa, southwest Asia) by the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. The development of iron smelting was once attributed to the Hittites of Anatolia during the Late Bronze Age. As part of the Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age, the
Bronze Age collapse The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition period in a large area covering much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly ac ...
saw the slow, comparatively continuous spread of iron-working technology in the region. It was long held that the success of the Hittite Empire during the Late Bronze Age had been based on the advantages entailed by the "monopoly" on ironworking at the time.Muhly, James D. 'Metalworking/Mining in the Levant' pp. 174–183 in ''Near Eastern Archaeology'' ed. Suzanne Richard (2003), pp. 179–180. Accordingly, the invading Sea Peoples would have been responsible for spreading the knowledge through that region. The view of such a "Hittite monopoly" has come under scrutiny and no longer represents a scholarly consensus. 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.   ImageSize = width:800 height:50 PlotArea = width:720 height:25 left:65 bottom:20 AlignBars = justify Colors = id:time value:rgb(0.7,0.7,1) # id:period value:rgb(1,0.7,0.5) # id:age value:rgb(0.95,0.85,0.5) # id:era value:rgb(1,0.85,0.5) # id:eon value:rgb(1,0.85,0.7) # id:filler value:gray(0.8) # background bar id:black value:black Period = from:-1300 till:500 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:500 start:-1300 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:100 start:-1300 PlotData = align:center textcolor:black fontsize:8 mark:(line,black) width:15 shift:(0,-5) bar:NEast color:age from: -1300 till: -600 shift:(0,5) text:
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
from: -1300 till: -1000 text:Iron Age I from: -1292 till: -1070 shift:(0,5) text:Ramesside Period, Ramesside Egypt from: -1000 till: -600 text:Iron Age II bar:NEast color:filler from: -600 till: -300 text:Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid from: -300 till: -50 text:Seleucid Empire from: -50 till: 224 text:Parthian Empire from: 224 till: 500 text:Sassanid Empire
:::''Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details'' ::: Prehistoric (or Protohistory, Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age


Egypt

The Iron Age in Egyptian archaeology essentially corresponds to the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. Iron metal is singularly scarce in collections of Egyptian antiquities. Bronze remained the primary material there until the conquest by Neo-Assyrian Empire in 671 BC. The explanation of this would seem to be that the relics are in most cases the paraphernalia of tombs, the funeral 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. In the Abusir, Black Pyramid of Abusir, dating before 2000 BC, Gaston Maspero found some pieces of iron. In the funeral text of Pepi I, the metal is mentioned. A sword bearing the name of pharaoh Merneptah as well as a battle axe with an iron blade and gold-decorated bronze shaft were both found in the excavation of Ugarit. A Tutankhamun's meteoric iron dagger, dagger with an iron blade found in Tutankhamun's tomb, 13th century BC, was recently examined and found to be of meteoric origin.


Europe

In Europe, the Iron Age is the last stage of prehistoric Europe and the first of the protohistory, protohistoric periods, which initially means descriptions of a particular area by Greek and Roman writers. For much of Europe, the period came to an abrupt local end after conquest by the Romans, though ironworking remained the dominant technology until recent times. Elsewhere it may last until the early centuries AD, and either Christianization or a new conquest in the Migration Period. Ferrous metallurgy, Iron working was introduced to Europe in the late 11th century BC, probably from the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the contin ...
, and slowly spread northwards and westwards over the succeeding 500 years. The Iron Age did not start when iron first appeared in Europe but it began to replace bronze in the preparation of tools and weapons. It did not happen at the same time all around Europe; local cultural developments played a role in the transition to the Iron Age. For example, the Iron Age of Prehistoric Ireland begins around 500 BC (when the Greek Iron Age had already ended) and finishes around AD 400. The widespread use of the technology of iron was implemented in Europe simultaneously with Asia.John Collis, "The European Iron Age" (1989) The prehistoric Iron Age in Central Europe divided into two periods based on historical events – Hallstatt culture (early Iron Age) and La Tène (late Iron Age) cultures. Material cultures of Hallstatt and La Tène consist of 4 phases (A, B, C, D phases). 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 and curvilinear rather than simple rectilinear; the forms and character of the ornamentation of the northern European weapons resemble in some respects Roman arms, while in other respects they are peculiar and evidently representative of northern art. Citânia de Briteiros, Citania de Briterios located in Guimarães, Portugal is one of the examples of archaeological sites of the Iron Age. This settlement (fortified villages) covered an area of , and served as a Celtiberian stronghold against Roman invasions. İt dates more than 2500 years back. The site was researched by Francisco Martins Sarmento starting from 1874. A number of amphoras (containers usually for wine or olive oil), coins, fragments of pottery, weapons, pieces of jewelry, as well as ruins of a bath and its () revealed here.


Asia


Central Asia

The Iron Age in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
began when iron objects appear among the Proto-Indo-Europeans, Indo-European Saka in present-day Xinjiang (China) between the 10th century BC and the 7th century BC, such as those found at the cemetery site of Chawuhukou.Mark E. Hall, "Towards an absolute chronology for the Iron Age of Inner Asia," Antiquity 71.274 [1997], 863–874. The Pazyryk culture is an Iron Age archaeological culture (c. 6th to 3rd centuries BC) identified by excavated artifacts and mummified humans found in the Siberian permafrost in the Altay Mountains.


East Asia

ImageSize = width:800 height:80 PlotArea = width:720 height:55 left:65 bottom:20 AlignBars = justify Colors = id:time value:rgb(0.7,0.7,1) # id:period value:rgb(1,0.7,0.5) # id:age value:rgb(0.95,0.85,0.5) # id:era value:rgb(1,0.85,0.5) # id:eon value:rgb(1,0.85,0.7) # id:filler value:gray(0.8) # background bar id:black value:black Period = from:-1300 till:500 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:500 start:-1300 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:100 start:-1300 PlotData = align:center textcolor:black fontsize:8 mark:(line,black) width:15 shift:(0,-5) bar:China color:era from: -771 till: -465 text:Spring and Autumn Period, Spring and Autumn from: -465 till: -221 text:Warring States period, Warring States from: -771 till: -221 shift:(0,5) text:Iron Age China from: -221 till: 500 shift:(0,4) text:Imperial China bar:China color:filler from: -221 till: 500 shift:(0,-7) text:Early Imperial China, (Early period) bar: Japan color:age from: -300 till: 300 text:Yayoi period, Yayoi from: 300 till: 500 text:Kofun period, Kofun bar: Korea color:era from: -500 till: -108 text:Gojoseon, Late Gojoseon bar:Korea color:filler from: -108 till: -18 shift:(0,4) text:Proto–Three Kingdoms of Korea, Proto–Kingdoms from: -18 till: 500 text:Three Kingdoms of Korea, Three Kingdoms :::''Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details'' ::: Prehistoric (or Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age In China, Chinese bronze inscriptions are found around 1200 BC, preceding the development of iron metallurgy, which was known by the 9th century BC,Derevianki, A.P. 1973. ''Rannyi zheleznyi vek Priamuria'' Therefore, in China
prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, ...
had given way to history periodized by ruling dynasties by the start of iron use, so "Iron Age" is not typically used as to describe a period in Chinese history. Iron metallurgy reached the Yangtse River, Yangtse 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 Guwei-cun of the 4th 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 has tentatively been associated with the Zhang Zhung culture described in early Tibetan writings. Iron objects were introduced to the Korean peninsula through trade with chiefdoms and state-level societies in the Yellow Sea area in the 4th century BC, just at the end of the Warring States Period but before the Western Han Dynasty began.Kim, Do-heon. 2002. Samhan Sigi Jujocheolbu-eui Yutong Yangsang-e Daehan Geomto [A Study of the Distribution Patterns of Cast Iron Axes in the Samhan Period]. ''Yongnam Kogohak'' [Yongnam Archaeological Review] 31:1–29.Taylor, Sarah. 1989. The Introduction and Development of Iron Production in Korea. ''World Archaeology'' 20(3):422–431. 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 river basin, basin. The time that iron production begins is the same time that complex chiefdoms of Samhan, Proto-historic Korea emerged. The complex chiefdoms were the precursors of early states such as Silla, Baekje, Goguryeo, and Gaya confederacy, Gaya Iron ingots were an important mortuary item and indicated the wealth or prestige of the deceased in this period. In Japan, iron items, such as tools, weapons, and decorative objects, are postulated to have entered Japan during the late Yayoi period ( 300 BC–AD 300) or the succeeding Kofun period ( AD 250–538), most likely through contacts with the Korean Peninsula and China. Distinguishing characteristics of the Yayoi period include the appearance of new pottery styles and the start of intensive rice agriculture in paddy fields. Yayoi culture flourished in a geographic area from southern Kyūshū to northern Honshū. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period; The word ''kofun'' is Japanese for the type of tumulus, burial mounds dating from that era.


South Asia

ImageSize = width:1000 height:125 PlotArea = width:900 height:80 left:65 bottom:20 AlignBars = justify Colors = id:time value:rgb(0.7,0.7,1) # id:period value:rgb(1,0.7,0.5) # id:age value:rgb(0.95,0.85,0.5) # id:era value:rgb(1,0.85,0.5) # id:eon value:rgb(1,0.85,0.7) # id:filler value:gray(0.8) # background bar id:black value:black Period = from:-1200 till:-200 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:500 start:-1200 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:100 start:-1200 PlotData = align:center textcolor:black fontsize:8 mark:(line,black) width:15 shift:(0,-5) bar:India color:era from: -1200 till: -200 text:Iron Age India bar:Period color:era from: -1200 till: -300 text:Janapadas bar:Period color:era from: -700 till: -300 text:Maha Janapadas bar:Dynasty color:era from: -1200 till: -832 text:Brihadratha, Brihadratha Dynasty bar:Dynasty color:era from: -832 till: -667 text:Pradyota dynasty, Pradyota Dynasty bar:Dynasty color:era from: -667 till: -413 text:Haryanka dynasty, Haryanka Dynasty bar:Dynasty color:era from: -413 till: -345 shift:(-30,-5) text:Shishunaga dynasty, Shishunaga Dynasty bar:Dynasty color:era from: -345 till: -321 shift:(0,4) text:Nanda Dynasty bar:Dynasty color:era from: -321 till: -200 shift:(20,-5)text:Maurya Dynasty :::''Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details'' ::: Prehistoric (or Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age Iron was being used in Mundigak to manufacture some items in the 3rd millennium BC such as a small copper/bronze bell with an iron clapper, a copper/bronze rod with two iron decorative buttons,. and a copper/bronze mirror handle with a decorative iron button. Artefacts including small knives and blades have been discovered in the Indian state of Telangana which have been dated between 2,400 BC and 1800 BC The history of metallurgy in the Indian subcontinent began prior to the 3rd millennium BC. Archaeological sites in India, such as Malhar, Dadupur, Raja Nala Ka Tila, Lahuradewa, Kosambi and Jhusi, Allahabad in present-day Uttar Pradesh show iron implements in the period 1800–1200 BC. As the evidence from the sites Raja Nala ka tila, Malhar suggest the use of Iron in c.1800/1700 BC. The extensive use of iron smelting is from Sonbhadra district, Malhar and its surrounding area. This site is assumed as the center for smelted bloomer iron to this area due to its location in the Karamnasa River and Ganga River. This site shows agricultural technology as iron implements sickles, nails, clamps, spearheads, etc. by at least c.1500 BC Archaeological excavations in Hyderabad show an Iron Age burial site. The beginning of the 1st millennium BC saw extensive developments in iron metallurgy in India. Technological advancement and mastery of iron metallurgy were achieved during this period of peaceful settlements. One ironworking centre in East India has been dated to the first millennium BC.Early Antiquity By I.M. Drakonoff. 1991. University of Chicago Press. . p. 372 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 Upanishads 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 steel, crucible technique. In this system, high-purity wrought iron, charcoal, and glass were mixed in a crucible and heated until the iron melted and absorbed the carbon. The protohistoric Early Iron Age in Sri Lanka lasted from 1000  BC to 600  BC. Radiocarbon evidence has been collected from Anuradhapura and Aligala shelter in Sigiriya. The Anuradhapura settlement is recorded to extend by 800 BC and grew to by 700–600 BC to become a town. The skeletal remains of an Early Iron Age chief were excavated in Anaikoddai, Jaffna. The name 'Ko Veta' is engraved in Brahmi script on a seal (insignia), 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 inscriptions in south India. It is also speculated that Early Iron Age sites may exist in Kandarodai, Matota, Pilapitiya and Tissamaharama.


Southeast Asia

ImageSize = width:800 height:80 PlotArea = width:720 height:55 left:65 bottom:20 AlignBars = justify Colors = id:time value:rgb(0.7,0.7,1) # id:period value:rgb(1,0.7,0.5) # id:age value:rgb(0.95,0.85,0.5) # id:era value:rgb(1,0.85,0.5) # id:eon value:rgb(1,0.85,0.7) # id:filler value:gray(0.8) # background bar id:black value:black Period = from:-1300 till:500 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:500 start:-1300 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:100 start:-1300 PlotData = align:center textcolor:black fontsize:8 mark:(line,black) width:15 shift:(0,-5) bar:Vietnam color:era from: -771 till: -221 shift:(0,5) text:Sa Huỳnh culture from: -221 till: 500 shift:(0,4) text:Óc Eo culture bar:Vietnam color:filler from: -221 till: 500 shift:(0,-7) text:Imperial Vietnam bar: Philippines color:era from: -771 till: -221 shift:(0,5) text:Sa Huỳnh culture, Sa Huyun culture from: -500 till: -108 text:Igorot society, Ifugao society bar:Philippines color:filler from: -108 till: -18 shift:(0,5) text:History of the Philippines, Ancient Barangay's from: -18 till: 500 text:History of the Philippines (900-1521), Archaic epoch bar: Indonesia color:era from: -500 till: -108 text:Prehistory of Indonesia bar:Indonesia color:filler from: -108 till: -18 shift:(0,4) text:Buni culture from: -18 till: 500 text:Tarumanagara, Early Kingdoms :::''Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details'' ::: Prehistoric (or Protohistory, Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age Archaeology in Thailand at sites Ban Don Ta Phet and Khao Sam Kaeo yielding metallic, stone, and glass artifacts stylistically associated with the Indian subcontinent suggest Indianization of Southeast Asia beginning in the 4th to 2nd centuries BC during the late Iron Age. In Philippines and Vietnam, the Sa Huynh culture showed evidence of an extensive trade network. Sa Huynh beads were made from glass, carnelian, agate, olivine, zircon, gold and garnet; most of these materials were not local to the region and were most likely imported. Han-Dynasty-style bronze mirrors were also found in Sa Huynh sites. Conversely, Sa Huynh produced ear ornaments have been found in archaeological sites in Central Thailand, as well as the Orchid Island.Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd.,


Sub-Saharan Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa, where there was 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 iron in tool substances. Early evidence for iron technology in Sub-Saharan Africa can be found at sites such as KM2 and KM3 sites, KM2 and KM3 in northwest Tanzania and parts of Nigeria and the Central African Republic. Nubia was one of the relatively few places in Africa to have a sustained Bronze Age along with Egypt and much of the rest of North Africa. Very early copper and bronze working sites in Niger may date to as early as 1500 BC. There is also evidence of iron metallurgy in Termit, Niger from around this period. Nubia was a major manufacturer and exporter of iron after the expulsion of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt, Nubian dynasty from Egypt by the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Assyrians in the 7th century BC. Though there is some uncertainty, some archaeologists believe that iron metallurgy was developed independently in sub-Saharan West Africa, separately from Eurasia and neighboring parts of North and Northeast Africa. Archaeological sites containing iron smelting furnaces and slag have also been excavated at sites in the Nsukka region of southeast Nigeria in what is now Igbo people, Igboland: dating to 2000 BC at the site of Lejja (Eze-Uzomaka 2009) and to 750 BC and at the site of Opi (archaeological site), Opi (Holl 2009). The site of Gbabiri (in the Central African Republic) has yielded evidence of iron metallurgy, from a reduction furnace and blacksmith workshop; with earliest dates of 896-773 BC and 907-796 BC respectively. Similarly, smelting in bloomery-type furnaces appear in the
Nok culture The Nok culture (or Nok civilization) is a population whose material remains are named after the Ham Ham is pork Pork is the culinary name for the meat of a domestic pig The domestic pig (''Sus scrofa domesticus'' or only ''Sus ...
of central Nigeria by about 550 BC and possibly a few centuries earlier. Iron and copper working in
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
spread south and east from Central Africa in conjunction with the Bantu expansion, from the Cameroon region to the African Great Lakes in the 3rd century BC, reaching the Cape of Good Hope, Cape around AD 400. However, iron working may have been practiced in Central Africa as early as the 3rd millennium BC. Instances of
carbon steel Carbon steel is a steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fract ...
based on complex preheating principles were found to be in production around the 1st century AD in northwest Tanzania.Peter Schmidt, Donald H. Avery
Complex Iron Smelting and Prehistoric Culture in Tanzania
Science 22 September 1978: Vol. 201. no. 4361, pp. 1085–1089
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Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
from: -1000 till: -500 text:Nok culture, Nok from: -1000 till: 500 text:Bantu expansion
:::''Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details'' ::: Prehistoric (or Proto-historic) Iron Age Historic Iron Age


Image gallery

File:Broborg Knivsta kommun 8448.jpg, Broborg Knivsta, prehistoric castle


See also

* Blast furnace * Fogou * Metallurgy in pre-Columbian America * List of archaeological periods * List of archaeological sites * Roman metallurgy


References


Further reading

* Jan David Bakker, Stephan Maurer, Jörn-Steffen Pischke and Ferdinand Rauch. 2021. "doi:10.1162/rest a 00902, Of Mice and Merchants: Connectedness and the Location of Economic Activity in the Iron Age." ''Review of Economics and Statistics'' 103 (4): 652–665. *Chang, Claudia. ''Rethinking Prehistoric Central Asia: Shepherds, Farmers, and Nomads''. New York: Routledge, 2018. * Collis, John. ''The European Iron Age''. London: B.T. Batsford, 1984. * Cunliffe, Barry W. ''Iron Age Britain''. Rev. ed. London: Batsford, 2004. * Jeannine Davis-Kimball, Davis-Kimball, Jeannine, V. A Bashilov, and L. Tiablonskiĭ. ''Nomads of the Eurasian Steppes in the Early Iron Age''. Berkeley, CA: Zinat Press, 1995. * Finkelstein, Israel, and Eli Piasetzky. "The Iron Age Chronology Debate: Is the Gap Narrowing?" ''Near Eastern Archaeology'' 74.1 (2011): 50–55. * Jacobson, Esther. ''Burial Ritual, Gender, and Status in South Siberia in the Late Bronze–Early Iron Age''. Bloomington: Indiana University, Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, 1987. * Mazar, Amihai. "Iron Age Chronology: A Reply to I. Finkelstein". ''Levant'' 29 (1997): 157–167. * Mazar, Amihai. "The Iron Age Chronology Debate: Is the Gap Narrowing? Another Viewpoint". ''Near Eastern Archaeology'' 74.2 (2011): 105–110. * Medvedskaia, I. N. ''Iran: Iron Age I''. Oxford: B.A.R., 1982. * Shinnie, P. L. ''The African Iron Age''. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. * Tripathi, Vibha. ''The Age of Iron in South Asia: Legacy and Tradition''. New Delhi: Aryan Books International, 2001. * Waldbaum, Jane C. ''From Bronze to Iron: The Transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age in the Eastern Mediterranean''. Göteborg: P. Aström, 1978.


External links

; General
A site with a focus on Iron Age Britain
from resourcesforhistory.com
Human Timeline (Interactive)
Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History (August 2016). ; Publications * Andre Gunder Frank and William R. Thompson
Early "Iron Age economic expansion and contraction revisited"
American Institute of Archaeology, San Francisco, January 2004. ; News
"Mass burial suggests massacre at Iron Age hill fort"
Archaeologists have found evidence of a massacre linked to Iron Age warfare at a Fin Cop, hill fort in Derbyshire. BBC. 17 April 2011 {{Authority control Iron Age, Articles which contain graphical timelines 2nd-millennium BC establishments Historical eras