Before the Iron age came the Stone Age and Bronze Age. These milestones in human history cover different ancient civilizations as they learned about and developed the tools, techniques, and methods of working with other materials.
During the Stone Age, humans discovered how to use rocks and stones to create stone tools and weapons. They even learned how to carve the stone to make stone wheels that could be used for grinding grains and for other purposes like transportation.
As humans became more advanced and skilled in their abilities, along with the discovery of metals in the earth, it paved the way for the Bronze Age. During this period, humans advanced their skills and knowledge by learning how to use bronze in different ways to make all sorts of bronze tools, cooking utensils, weapons, and more.
During the Bronze Age, it is believed that humans did encounter iron but, initially, overlooked it because it was not as durable as bronze. They probably viewed it as inferior because they did not yet understand the properties of iron or how to make it more durable.
What Was the Iron Age?
The Iron Age started sometime around 1200 BC and ended sometime around 800 AD. The long span was due to different civilizations transitioning from bronze to iron at different times. For example, countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region and South Asian region were the first to transition to iron from bronze around 1200 BC during the early Iron Age.
Greece and Egypt moved into the Iron Age around 1100 BC. In Italy and Central Europe, as the Bronze Age collapsed, the people transitioned to using iron around 900 BC. In Northern Europe, the start of the Iron Age did not begin until 500 BC.
The reason for the delayed start in different regions had to do with knowledge and education of working with different materials. In the Middle East and Asian countries, people discovered they could make iron stronger by smelting it with carbon. The end product, of course, was steel.
Once they developed the techniques and methods to make superior steel products, the goods and knowledge about how they were made slowly spread to other regions. As these regions adapted and their metalsmiths began working more with iron, eventually, they, too, transitioned into the Iron Age.
Northern European countries were among the last to make this transition, due to the time it took for information to spread from one country to the next. By around 1 BC, the Iron Age was over in all regions except in Northern Europe. Here, the Iron Age continued until around 800 AD, with the rise of the Viking Age.
Why Is the Iron Age Named the Iron Age?
Throughout ancient history, three general historical periods were classified by the types of materials being crafted and used by humans—stone, bronze, and iron. During the Stone Age, humans worked primarily with stone.
Sometime during the Stone Age, humans discovered that they could combine copper and tin to make bronze. As they continued to experiment and uncover new techniques, eventually the Stone Age collapsed and was replaced by the Bronze Age.
The same thing happened with iron during the Bronze Age. The collapse of the Bronze Age is also believed to have occurred from interruptions in trade routes, famine, natural disasters, and invasions by nomadic tribes.
With supplies of bronze and tin harder to obtain, civilizations turned to using iron as an alternative. Once they discovered they could smelt iron with carbon to make steel, the Iron Age began.
What Are the Most Notable Things that Happened During the Iron Age?
As different countries became more skilled at iron smithing, they started to gain an advantage over less-advanced countries. Many different empires began to rise during the Iron Age, with the development of more permanent cities and settlements.
Before the Iron Age, while different regions did have established cities, like Athens in Greece and Rome in Italy, other regions consisted of smaller tribes and nomads that migrated and moved around, never settling in one area.
When people did settle in one place, they started to build more sturdy buildings and homes. Iron doors and windows started to become more common since they were stronger and more durable and protective than wooden doors.
With the knowledge of steel also came the creation of new weapons. Arming themselves with these new weapons, it led people to engage in many large-scale conflicts and invasions.
For instance, the Roman Empire had its beginnings in 509 BC with the end of the monarchy and the formation of a republic. Rome was already well into the Iron Age, with almost 300 years of developing new methods, techniques, and skills working with iron and creating steel.
Eventually, this led to military conquests and the expansion of the early republic. Around 264 BC, Rome had begun a period of military conquests referred to as the Punic Wars. Around the period from 149 BC to 146 BC, during the Third Punic War, Rome was also expanding eastward, resulting in the fall of Macedonia.
The Roman conquests helped fuel the growth of its empire and arts, culture, technological advances, and wealth. As Rome grew, so, too, did its skills and knowledge in other areas like Roman architecture, aqueducts, cement, arches, roads, and drainage.
Eventually, other regions, namely Western Europe and Northern Europe, acquired similar knowledge and skills working with iron and creating steel. They, too, created iron weapons and used these to fight back against Rome’s expansion efforts. Conflicts and wars between empires continued throughout the Iron Age.
Another iron product that was discovered during the Iron Age was wrought iron. Wrought iron has a very low carbon content. Around 200 BC, wrought iron was initially invented in Asian countries. Eventually, the skills and knowledge required to smelt wrought iron spread to other regions.
Why Is Iron Still Popular Today?
Even though the Iron Age ended around 800 AD, iron continues to be a popular choice for crafting iron tools, weapons, doors, windows, building supports, machinery, and more. Wrought iron and steel are very durable and strong.
In the 1970s, the mass production of wrought iron declined in favor of large-scale steel production. However, wrought iron is still produced to this day by hand by many ironsmiths. They handcraft wrought iron doors, windows, railings, and other such products for residential and commercial applications.
Long after the Iron Age, steel gradually became a popular construction material used for building supports, especially in commercial buildings and skyscrapers. Steel also was used by Henry Ford and other automotive manufacturers to build the first automobiles. Even today, steel is still widely used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries.
We hope you have enjoyed learning more about the Iron Age and its influences on the development of ancient civilizations. Without the Iron Age, we would not have iron products, steel, or wrought iron today.
To find wrought iron doors, windows, and other products for your home or business, please feel free to browse our online inventories or contact Universal Iron Doors at 818-771-1003 for further information or a free quote today! We can also design and create custom iron doors and iron products for your home or business.