The Iron Age began around 1,200 BC. This historical period is framed in the Age of Metals, in prehistory. Its name is due to the fact that, in that historical stage, man learned to use iron.
Thanks to the development of iron tools and utensils, humanity not only experienced remarkable technological development, but also experienced important social and economic advances.
However, it must be taken into account that it does not have an origin and end common to all civilizations, since its duration varies according to different cultures. Despite this, it was determined that the Iron Age began around 1,200 BC. C. in places like the Middle East, the Mediterranean areas and India.
Although iron was already known as a metal in earlier periods, the procedures for making alloys and foundries did not take place until the Iron Age. On the other hand, iron had the advantage of being available in nature in greater quantities than bronze.
Stages of the Iron Age
We can distinguish two great stages in the Iron Age.
The first stage takes place between 1,200 BC and 1,000 BC. This is characterized by the consolidation of iron as the main metal of the time, to such an extent that it is present in all facets of daily life.
In the second stage, which ends around 550 BC, techniques for the extraction of iron will be developed. This discovery would take place by chance, as it occurred when iron ore was thrown into the fire, giving rise to wrought iron.
It is precisely at this time that iron objects are produced in large quantities.
Main characteristics of the Iron Age
Without a doubt, the Iron Age consolidates the metal that gives its name to this period as the predominant metal. Thanks to iron, mankind had a much stronger metal than bronze.
Thus, iron became the essential element when producing utensils, weapons and tools. There is no doubt that iron produced important changes on a social, cultural, economic and military level.
Among the most outstanding facts are the following:
- Arms production in large quantities.
- Population growth.
- Celtic presence and invasions in Europe.
- Fortified towns proliferate.
- Iron grants military power to the civilizations that possessed it.
- Increase in war conflicts.
- The development of casting techniques displaces bronze, which goes into the background and will be used for ornamental purposes.
- The main economic activities of the societies of the Iron Age were agriculture and livestock. Thanks to iron, improvements came when working the land.
- Higher quality weapons and tools are obtained.
What was society like in the Iron Age?
The rise of iron as the main metal led to profound social changes. Thus, at work and in war, stronger and more resistant weapons and tools were available.
Precisely iron brought evolutions in an economy based on agriculture and livestock, which now would have technical improvements. Thus, sickles and plow points emerged that allowed important advances in the agricultural field. Thanks to iron, efficiency in agriculture increased, since it was possible to harvest more and using less time.
This revolution also affected human settlements, as society is grouped in fortified towns that would be the origin of the medieval walled towns. In fact, the use of straw and wood was abandoned when building houses, giving way to stone buildings.
It is also noteworthy that, during the Iron Age, exchanges between different peoples increased thanks to the development of inventions such as the wheel and the sailing ship.