The bronze age is marked as the first time in history when humans evolved from stone and started using metal for their tools. Bronze tools and weapons replaced the earlier version of stone tools. Origin of bronze age can be dated back to Ancient Sumer City in Mesopotamia. Prehistorians believe that Sumerians are the first people to use bronze tools. Humans made dozens of technological advancement during the bronze age which includes the invention of the wheel and the first writing system. In some parts of Asia and the middle east, the era lasted for nearly 3000 years ago from 3300 B.C. to 1200 B.C. The bronze age ended abruptly when several prominent bronze age civilization collapsed.
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Ancient Sumer was the first civilization to start adding copper and tin to make bronze. Bronze was durable and tough than copper, which made it a better metal for weapons and tools.
Various archaeologist and prehistorian evidence suggest the transition of copper to bronze originated back in 3300 B.C. The invention of tools made up using bronze marked an end to the preempt Stone Age.
A number of other human societies also evolved in the bronze age at different times. For instance Greece civilization started working with the bronze tools before 3000 B.C., similarly, China and the British entered the age of bronze in 1700 and 1900 B.C respectively.
One more thing occurred in the bronze age, large scale societies and communities joined under a central command under a powerful ruler. The large states and kingdom arose and interacted with each other using means of warfare, trade, migration and ideas. Some of the prominent kingdoms include Babylonia in Mesopotamia, Sumer and Athens from Greece.
Bronze age Timeline
This section of blog contains an illustrative timeline of Bronze Age.
Fourth millennium BCE
Sumer was the first city to enter into bronze age from stone age when Sumerians joined around a dozen cities and states throughout Mesopotamia. Some of the prominent cities in that region include Uruk and Eridu which is now situated in southern Iraq.
Sumerians believed themselves the black-headed ones which translate Sag-Giga in their language. Around 3300 BC they started using bronze tools. They also became proficient in canals and leaves for irrigation. Sumerians developed its new techniques of farming and writing. They invented the cuneiform script which is considered as one of the earliest forms of writing.
The people in Sumer was very keen towards literature and arts. An epic 3000 line poem known as “Epic of Gilgamesh” follows the journey king of a Sumerian King as he goes after a quest to attain eternal life and fights monster meanwhile in a forest.
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Second millennium B.C.E
With the second millennium, Babylonia also arose to prominence around 1900 B.C.E and became a pinnacle city of Bronze Age. Presently situated city in southern Iraq, Amorites is believed to be the capital of Babylon.
The Hammurabi, king of Amorite is known as the first writer to write the world’s first written legal codes. Babylon surpassed Sumerian city as the most powerful city in the region using The legal proceeding of The code of Hammurabi.
Assyria was a major military and political power is ancient Mesopotamia. At the peak of it, the Assyrian empire stretched its territory from modern-day Central Iraq to the west and east of Turkey and south in present-day Egypt. The Assyrians regularly warred against the mighty Pharaohs of Egypt and Turkey’s Hittite Empire.
The ancient City of Assur which is situated at the bank of Tiger River in present-day Iraq is known to aspire the name of Assyria.
Greece in the Bronze Age
Greece is known to become a major hub of all sorts of activity during the Bronze Age. On the region of Mediterranean, Cycladic civilization evolved on the mainland of Greece, around 3200 B.C. Cycladic civilization got their name from Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea.
After a few hundred years, the Minoan civilization evolved on a separate island of Crete. Minoans are known as the first civilization which has advanced inventions in Europe in the Stone Age.
Most of the Minoans were traders who export olive oil, timber, dye and wine to nearby Syria, Egypt, Cyprus and Greek. Minoans tried to import raw materials and especially metals such as copper, ivory, tin and other precious stones.
One other civilization that evolved during the bronze age in Greece is Mycenaean around 1600 B.C. On the Greek Mainland, the culture of Mycenaean flourished under its centre power which includes Thebes, Sparta and Athens.
Many myths related to Greek is tied to the culture of Mycenae. The Greek Literature and Greek mythology suggest that the city of Mycenae was founded under the leadership of Perseus, the great warrior who beheaded goddess Medusa. Agamemnon, the Mycenaean King fought with Troy at the famous battle of Homer’s Iliad. Although there is no valid evidence to support this myth and no further historical records of a Mycenaean King.
The collapse of the Bronze Age
The collapse of bronze age started abruptly around 1200 B.C in North Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe. Historians are not sure which reasons triggered the collapse of the bronze age, but most of the prehistorians believed that transition was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive.
Some of the most prominent civilizations which include the Hittite Empire in Turkey, Mycenaean Greece and Ancient Egypt fell within a short period of time. All the main trade routes lost and old ancient cities were abandoned. The literacy rate among people shattered.
Prehistorians, scholars and thinkers believe a combination of natural disasters may have collapsed various bronze Age Empires. Most of the Archaeological findings and evidence suggest a range of droughts in the east of the Mediterranean region for almost a period of 150 years around 1100 BC. Evidence suggests the possibility of famine, earthquakes, sociological unrest and invasions by tribes.
Bronze Age is a crucial part of human’s journey on this earth. Until inventions of bronze tools around 5000 B.C, they only had limited materials to work with like copper, stone and wood. People used these tools to make utensils, weapon, other stuff and statues with just these metals. All of them were terrible for most of the purposes. Bronze was different from the earlier use of stone tools as it was more dense, strong and repairable. Thus, making it a better option for tools and weapon than copper and stone.
Also, bronze age depicts our ancestors and a number of mythological stories. This is one of the main reason why the Bronze age is still relevant to prehistorians and archaeologist.
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