Iron Age

archaeological and historical period

The Iron Age is the period after the Bronze Age in Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. Iron production took place in Anatolia at least as early as 1200 BC, with some evidence pointing to even earlier dates.[1]

Some iron tools

In the Mesopotamian states of Sumer, Akkad and Assyria, the use of iron reaches far back, to perhaps 3000 BC.[2] One of the earliest smelted iron artifacts known was a dagger with an iron blade found in a Hattic tomb in Anatolia, dating from 2500 BC.[3] 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.

Before this time, people used bronze or flint tools, and pottery. They farmed, and lived in communities. Most of Europe, Africa and Asia reached the Iron Age by 500 BC. It is a period of prehistory because, though iron and steel continue to be important even today, the "Iron Age" is defined as ending when people began to write their history.

Iron ore is easy to find, and some iron is a Native metal but iron is hard to make into tools. It melts at a higher temperature than bronze. When blacksmiths learned how to make iron tools, they were able to make many of them. With more and better tools, people could do more. For example, more people could own a metal plough. They could farm their fields better and grow more crops. Some people invented coins to help buy and sell their crops and their iron tools.

Bronze weapons and armor were no match for those made of iron, so many peoples who did not have iron were defeated by those who did. Soldiers used iron shields and helmets in battle.


  1. Akanuma H. 2005. The significance of the composition of excavated iron fragments taken from Stratum III at the site of Kaman-Kalehöyük, Turkey. Anatolian Archaeological Studies 14: 147–158.
  2. Chisholm H. 1910. In The Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. Cowen, Richard 1999. The Age of Iron Chapter 5 in a series of essays on geology, history, and people prepared for a course of the University of California at Davis. Online version Archived 2010-03-14 at the Wayback Machine.