Iron and Steel Age came after the Bronze and Copper period and during it, people started using iron and steel. This period began when iron was first introduced as the main material to make weapons and tools. However, scientists believe that meteoric iron, or iron-nickel alloy, was used by various ancient peoples thousands of years before the Iron Age. It is important to mention that Iron Age did not occur in America, only in Europe, Asia and Africa.
In Europe and Asia, this period occurred after Bronze Age, while in Africa this occurred after the Stone Age. The use of iron tools stimulated the development of agriculture, crafts, trade, and human progress as a whole. The Iron Age is important since it helped many civilizations to become advanced. During this period farmers used an ‘ard’ – an iron plow to work on their fields.
During The Iron Age the rotary quern – the machine that helped to grind grains for flour, was also invented. This made the process much quicker and easier for workers.
When was the Iron and Steel Age?
The Iron and Steel Age followed the Bronze and Copper Age and lasted between 1200 B.C. and 600 B.C., depending on the region. The period first started in the Mediterranean region and Near East and marked the collapse of several prominent Bronze Age civilizations, including the Mycenaean civilization in Greece and the Hittite Empire in Turkey.
Ancient cities including Troy and Gaza were destroyed, trade routes were lost and literacy declined throughout the region. During this period, people started using iron and steel to make weapons and tools.
Actually, ancient people started using iron sporadically during Bronze Age but bronze showed as much more durable and better material. When ancient people realized they can mix iron with carbon to get steel, that is when they started using it more.
The era ended with the beginning of the historical period – the production of written sources that document history.
What weapons did people in the stone age use?
During this period various tools and weapons were in use. Some of them are:
The chariot’s primary purpose was transport on the battlefield. In battle, a heavily armored warrior could not be expected to move very quickly or mount and ride on horseback. The development of the two-horse chariot solved this problem. This way, a person driving a chariot could rapidly convey warriors to the battlefield and then retrieve them afterward.
The use of chariots was widespread at the height of the Near East Iron Age. The Hittites and Canaanites employed them, as did the Greeks and Egyptians.
Saggers were used in wars and as a tool to hunt food. Daggers in the Iron Age were sharper and shorter than swords, making them a very easy weapon to carry.
Shields and Armor
The Iron Age shield was usually oval or round. In places like Turkey, the Iron Age shield was made from iron but some Iron Age people in Britain would still have used a wooden or bronze shield.
The Iron Age shield was used for protecting the body during battles. One famous example of an Iron Age shield is the Battersea Shield, which is a bronze shield with beautiful designs on the front.
During Iron Age, shields were made from iron, bronze, or a combination of both metals. In the East, shields looked like tunics are were knee-length, while in Britain, the shield was rarely worn and was wooden or leather.
Spears are another weapon commonly used in the Iron and Steel Age. Ancient people mostly used them for hunting and in wars.
Iron Age spears were often made of wood, whilst the triangular tips (spearheads) were made with iron in order to cause as much harm as possible. Spears were fairly easy to make.
This was a light weapon, usually with a metal tip attached to a wooden shaft.
Swords also changed during the Iron and Steel age. They became less curved and shorter and ancient people started using them in wars.
During the very last ages of the Iron and Steel period, swords became longer and were used when horseriding. The horse riders kept them in sheaths, which are sword-holders carried on a person’s back.
Javelins were a very popular weapon during the Iron and Steel Age. They were similar to spears and during wars, javelins were hurdled from wooden chariots at enemies.
During Iron Age, axes changed from being short and slim. They became wider and larger and during the Iron Age, people started using them for agricultural purposes.
This period also saw the creation of axes that were only for fighting and war purposes.
Hammer is a term that covers a wide variety of striking tools such as pounder, beetle, mallet, maul, pestle, sled, and others.
These tools are now divided into hammers with long handles that could be swung and get the speed and those simpler handles. These simples handles, for example, a pavement tamper may be picked up so that it can be dropped.
They were mostly used as a tool for nailing, riveting, and smithing.
Knives developed from Paleolithic chopper and Iron Age knives came with longer and tougher blades that could be set into a handle.
Knives were used in wars (came in the form of daggers and swords), in the field, kitchen, and workshops. Later, a knife specialized for hunting also showed, along with many other knives that were created for a single purpose (goldbeater, farriers, shoemakers, and farmers).
Early Iron Age chisels were rude and solid. They came in two versions, as tanged and socketed chisels. Tanged chisels were easier to make than socketed, for which the socket had to be bent from a T-shaped forging.
During this period, chisels were used to work and carve on wood and stones.
The Iron and Still age was a very important part of the development of humankind.
During this period, people started using steel and iron to make weapons and tools and created ard and rotary quern.
The weapons and tools created from iron and steel were stronger and much more durable and that was the main reason for their use and replacement of bronze.
The most common weapons and tools used in this period were swords, knives, daggers, hammers, chisels, axes, javelins, shields and armor, and chariots.