Though we sense its latent power and
undoubtedly violent past, we are also captivated
by the sculptural beauty of this ancient weapon.
It achieves a balance and order with just a touch
of humor that appeals to our artistic senses. We
are aware of its mysterious, even ominous
qualities, yet somehow the passage of time has
brought its beauty to the surface.
The Bronze Age was a period in the civilization's
development when the most advanced
metalworking (at least in systematic and
widespread use) consisted of techniques for
smelting copper and tin from naturally occurring
outcroppings of ore, and then alloying those
metals in order to cast bronze. The Bronze Age
forms part of the three-age system for
prehistoric societies. In that system, it follows
the Neolithic in some areas of the world. In many
parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Neolithic is
directly followed by the Iron Age.
The place and time of the invention of bronze are
controversial, and it is possible that bronzing
was invented independently in multiple places.
The earliest known tin bronzes are from what is
now Iran and Iraq and date to the late 4th
millennium BC, but there are claims of an earlier
appearance of tin bronze in Thailand in the 5th
millennium BC. Arsenical bronzes were made in
Anatolia and on both sides of the Caucasus by
the early 3rd millennium BC. Some scholars date
some arsenical bronze artefacts of the Maykop
culture in the North Caucasus as far back as the
mid 4th millennium BC, which would make them
the oldest known bronzes, but others date the
same Maykop artefacts to the mid 3rd
The Bronze Age in the Near East is divided into
three main periods (the dates are very
• EBA - Early Bronze Age (c.3500-2000 BC)
• MBA - Middle Bronze Age (c.2000-1600 BC)
• LBA - Late Bronze Age (c.1600-1200 BC)
Metallurgy developed first in Anatolia, modern
Turkey. The mountains in the Anatolian highland
possessed rich deposits of copper and tin.
Copper was also mined in Cyprus, Egypt, the
Negev desert, Iran and around the Persian Gulf.
Copper was usually mixed with arsenic, yet the
growing demand for tin resulted in the
establishment of distant trade routes in and out
of Anatolia. The precious copper was also
imported by sea routes to the great kingdoms of
Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.